A brokered Republican convention?

posted at 8:05 am on November 29, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Given the changes to the rules regarding apportionment of delegates, some political observers are beginning to fantasize about the possibility of a brokered convention next year if none of the current field of candidates succeed in garnering enough delegates to lock up the process. And who wouldn’t like that? The prospect of smoke filled back rooms, wheeling and dealing, tense replays of speeches.. it’s a ready made Movie of the Week! Howard Megdal, at Salon, makes precisely this argument, and in fact argues that it might be the perfect cure for what ails you.

Several candidates who aren’t Mitt Romney are likely to be on the ballot in all 50 states. If a majority of the party agrees on nothing more than Not Mitt Romney, the real Mitt Romey cannot enter April with a majority of delegates. If Romney is able to climb to even 30 percent nationally in the pre-April states — something he hasn’t done in a single national poll — and wins a corresponding percentage of the vote, he would still have only 349 delegates. That means he would need to capture 868 of the 1,217 winner-take-all delegates to capture the nomination through the primary process. His only hope is that the other candidates have dropped out.

The GOP leadership and the rank and file would have the opportunity to nominate a compromise candidate who hasn’t been in the race at all: John Thune, Chris Christie or Jeb Bush, someone who can cite Romney’s unpopularity and moderate record as the basis for breaking their previous vows not to run. Suddenly, the Democrats would face a fresh conservative face who would receive just two months of scrutiny before Election Day.

And running against a president saddled with mediocre approval ratings, whose reelection prospects seem largely buoyed by his uninspired opponents, the Republicans would go into the general election with a sense of dynamism, not disappointment. A brokered convention in Tampa is shaping up the GOP’s best-case scenario.

I’m sure this sounds exciting to a lot of base voters who may be disillusioned with the current crop of candidates. Who knows what might happen in a case like that? (The author exhibits the requisite restraint to avoid mentioning Sarah Palin riding into the convention hall on a polar bear, wearing a necklace made of the teeth of the Democratic leadership.) The scenario is designed to be exciting, much like one of the final episodes of The West Wing. But as Doug Mataconis points out, it’s probably not nearly as probable as Megidal imagines.

There’s only one problem with Megidal’s analysis, it seems to be based on what has become a common misunderstanding of what the new GOP rules actually mean. As Josh Putnam pointed out back in August, many GOP states are not actually pure winner-take-all in their delegate allocation. Instead, they allocate delegates based on Congressional District, with a bonus number of delegates going to the statewide winner, and at-large delegates that are awarded proportionally. These states will not be required to change their allocation rules even if they hold their primaries before April 1st. This was the allocation system that was in place in many GOP states in 2008 and it’s what allowed John McCain to lock down the nomination so early even though many of his victories were by relatively small margins on the statewide ballot. There’s no reason to believe that the same thing couldn’t happen in 2012, and even less reason to believe that such a system would allow the nomination process to be dragged out all the way to Tampa, as entertaining as that might be.

Further, as Doug points out, there is an obvious downside to short sheeting the primary process. As bloody as the current battles may be, they do serve the purpose of thinning the herd and getting any possible dirty laundry out of the way well in advance of the summer campaign season. Would we really want to be finding all the warts and scars of the final nominee that close to the election?

Still, the rule changes may well result in a much longer primary, going deep into the spring without one early, big dollar favorite locking it all up as soon as the votes are cast in South Carolina in Florida. I’m not sure if that’s entirely good for the party’s prospects, but it will certainly provide a more entertaining spectacle for those of us covering it.

MORE: Michael Barone isn’t buying it either.

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Still, the rule changes may well result in a much longer primary, going deep into the spring

Perhaps the NC primary will actually mean something this time around.

I was reduced to voting for the Huckster (*shudder*) in 08 because he was the only not-McCain left in the race at that point.

mankai on November 29, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Not… gonna… happen…

Sorry, Tingles and the rest of the LSM…

Khun Joe on November 29, 2011 at 8:11 AM

Brokered? Unless it’s Sarah I’m staying home. She’s not on the ballots an I doubt she’ll jump in -even if drafted. I’d have to hold my nose for Newt and go to confessionafterward. If the GOP selects the pretenciple -Romney, I wait for the fall of the nation as an indie.

300 million people and we can’t find one moral constitutional conservative who hasn’t compromised himself/herself into a none of the above candidate?
Spare me the speech about Obama will win. We heard that standard GOP fear factor last time -it’s their default mantra when they give us RINO dejours.

Don L on November 29, 2011 at 8:17 AM

Pardon my ignorance, but I’m going to ask a stupid question. How does a brokered convention work as far as getting a newly chosed candidate on the ballot in all 57 states?

Would the convention-chosen candidate’s name automatically be placed on the ballots, no need for signature collecting or jumping through any other state hoops as is done in the primaries?

Fallon on November 29, 2011 at 8:18 AM

Fallon on November 29, 2011 at 8:18 AM

I’m going from memory here, but since it seems every four year someone suggests a brokered convention is in the works you’d think I’d have this down by now…

If a candidate is still in the race the delegates are bound to vote for that candidate at the convention. But if the candidate exits the race then the delegates can vote for whomever they want.

Or something like that.

JohnTant on November 29, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Fallon, I believe the nominee would actually be selected there at the convention based on who the delegates vote for (or caucus)

cmsinaz on November 29, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Fallon on November 29, 2011 at 8:18 AM

Technically, since their isn’t an official nominee until after the convention, the system is set up to allow for a convention before requiring filing for ballot inclusion.

Anecdotally… since all those wacky 3rd-party candidates manage to get on ballots after their conventions, I’m sure the major parties have the system down.

mankai on November 29, 2011 at 8:38 AM

Put aside the “changes in the rules” – voters are going back
and forth on their support for candidates because there is not
ONE whom we trust to get this country out of this mess. The only
one who would have done it, and has the record of reform to prove
it, is not running.

Gingrich is the only one who talks a good game. However, do we
trust him to not cave to extreme liberal compromise once he is
in office? Not so much. Is half an Obama health care bill,
half cap and tax, etc. only half as bad as the original bills?
I want those bills to disappear. I also want a chainsaw
taken to EPA, the education departments and any other unnecessary
tax dollar gulping entity.

I would roll on the floor pounding my fists while alternately
laughing and crying incessantly if Jeb Bush became our nominee
after all is said and done. There would go immigration reform.

Amjean on November 29, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Palin/Rubio 2012.

trigon on November 29, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Not going to have a brokered convention. This is just a sales job to keep us interested in the by now far boring conventions. Last excitement at a convention was wondering if Ford was going to be Reagan’s VP, and have a sort of two headed presidency.

I’ve heard this tune far too many times.

rbj on November 29, 2011 at 9:04 AM

300 million people and we can’t find one moral constitutional conservative who hasn’t compromised himself/herself into a none of the above candidate?
Spare me the speech about Obama will win. We heard that standard GOP fear factor last time -it’s their default mantra when they give us RINO dejours.

Don L on November 29, 2011 at 8:17 AM

Hahahahahaha!!!! You and those who hold the same view as you are in the smallest portion of the tiniest iota of a miniscule minority that your non participation wont even be statistically measurable.

“300 million people and we”

lol

HILARIOUS!

The one value you will have will be to serve as someone for the rest of rational Americans to laugh at!

“300 million people and we”

ROTFLMMFAO!!!

csdeven on November 29, 2011 at 9:31 AM

the system is set up to allow for a convention before requiring filing for ballot inclusion..

mankai on November 29, 2011 at 8:38 AM

So, it doesn’t really matter who was on the primary ballots (except to try to lock in delegates), it’s only after the convention that the candidate is officially on the ballot? And, (in my champagne wishes and caviar dreams) it really could be anyone if it is a brokered convention?

Like the evil stepmother in Cinderella, I said “if”.

Fallon on November 29, 2011 at 9:35 AM

I decided long ago to write in Dan Quayle, so leave me out of this.

Just A Grunt on November 29, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Don L on November 29, 2011 at 8:17 AM
Sarah does things for ‘Sarah’.

Her motives are no more noble or pure than any other politician….and that’s all she is…a politician.

I still support Perry-but he’s toast.
Go Newt(If Perry drops out).

annoyinglittletwerp on November 29, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Best thing about brokered convention, Mitt would not become the nominee!

ConservativePartyNow on November 29, 2011 at 10:32 AM

There are two factors that make a brokered convention possible:

Mitt Romney has the resources and organization to run a long campaign.

Ron Paul has devoted followers, who will vote for him in primaries, even if he has no shot. That could be enough to prevent anyone from getting fifty percent in a lengthy two-man race.

Mister Mets on November 29, 2011 at 10:55 AM

The author exhibits the requisite restraint to avoid mentioning Sarah Palin riding into the convention hall on a polar bear, wearing a necklace made of the teeth of the Democratic leadership.

Nice!

csdeven on November 29, 2011 at 9:31 AM

It’s the small 20% minority of liberals who abuse the court systems, education institutions, media outlets and the voting process (17th amendment?) that give the illusion of hegemony. This is a right-leaning country whether you like it or not.

You can now get up off the floor, compose yourself and reattach your ass.

the_souse on November 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM

As bloody as the current battles may be, they do serve the purpose of thinning the herd and getting any possible dirty laundry out of the way well in advance of the summer campaign season.

I haven’t seen much thinning of the herd so far. Look at Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer, both good guys but so far down in the polls that one can only marvel at their persistence. Look at Herman Cain, whose attorney has all but admitted Cain’s long-term relationship with a woman not his wife–and yes, Newt! supporters, philandering does hinder electability.

Maybe so many are sticking around because they don’t want to be the first to drop out. No one likes looking or feeling like a quitter.

troyriser_gopftw on November 29, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Maybe so many are sticking around because they don’t want to be the first to drop out.

troyriser_gopftw on November 29, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Oh dear, you’ve already forgotten T-Paw.

Fallon on November 29, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Oh dear, you’ve already forgotten T-Paw.

Fallon on November 29, 2011 at 11:09 AM

You’re right. I can’t explain it. It was if he was never there.

troyriser_gopftw on November 29, 2011 at 11:34 AM

CROSS POSTED

29 Nov 2011

HA Candidate Support update (379 explicit or implicit declarations, (previous 384), Numbers include a few new declarations, but several moving out of one group and becoming uncommitted at the present time. Ginrich has now moved into a position of having more HA supporters than his two nearest competitors. Please note that the tendency of the percentages going down for certain candidates is a result of more declarations of support for other contenders as opposed to withdrawal or transfer of current support. If you have a question as to where I currently you please email at the email provided below.

CAIN (119) [Current 31.4%, Previous, 32.0%, High 43.6% ]

GINGRICH (171) [Current 45.1%, Previous, 43.5%, High 45.1%]

PERRY (45) [Current 11.9%, Previous, 12.0%, High 17.6%]

ROMNEY (34) [Current 9.0%, Previous, 9.9%, High 18.5%]

BACHMANN (1) [Current 0.2%, Previous, 0.5%, High <5.0%]

PAUL (4) [Current 1.0%, Previous, 1.0%, High <5.0%]

HUNTSMAN (2) [Current 0.5%, Previous, 0.5%, High <5.0%]

SANTORUM (1) [Current 0.2%, Previous, 0.3%, High <5.0%]

LAWN GNOME (1) [Current 0.2%, Previous, 0.3%, High <5.0%]

Thanks to our moderators for posting recent entries that have new/more people to declare their support for their favorite candidate. The Palin Camp below has changed due to several previous or current supporters being identified over the last week, still a high percentage of uncommitted.

PALINISTa’s (96) – [Cain (2) = 2.0%; was 2.8%, Gingrich (17) = 17.7%; was 18.4%, Perry (5) = 5.2%; was 5.7%, Santorum (1) = 1.0%; was 1.1%, Uncommitted (71) = 74.0%, was 72.5%]

Percentages might exceed 100% due to rounding. If for any reason I have you under the wrong candidates tent, I have you listed under more than one candidate, or you would like to throw your name behind a different candidate you can update me at prov22.17-21@juno.com (three people have updated this way.
Provided as service towards eventual coalescing behind he/she who saved the people from Him Who Is No Longer Mentioned (HWINLM)…except descriptively as The Destoyer, PBHO, TOTUS.

RedLizard64 on November 29, 2011 at 11:38 AM

I would estimate the chances of a brokered convention at about 10%.

The long series of debates has enabled many voters to know and “vet” these candidates, for better or for worse, before they vote in primaries or caucuses. Bachmann, Perry, and Cain each had a few weeks of popularity before committing gaffes that relegated them to single digits. Santorum and Huntsman never really caught on, while Ron Paul has his typical 10-15% following in polls that never carries over into primary votes. Gingrich is now the most popular Not-Romney candidate, and time will tell if he can endure the intense scrutiny of a long campaign.

Santorum and Huntsman will probably drop out after the first few primaries/caucuses if they don’t break 5%, and Bachmann and Cain will probably drop out a few weeks later, if they can’t find a new reason for voters to support them over Romney or Gingrich. Ron Paul will probably slog along until the convention, never getting more than 5% in any primary and a handful of delegates, but not enough to make a difference.

Perry probably has enough campaign money to stay in the race well beyond the Florida primary, while Gingrich has less money, but donors might jump on his bandwagon due to his recent surge in the polls. Romney has lots of money, and a consistent 20%+ support base, and can continue has campaign until the convention.

After the first few primaries and caucuses, the race will probably come down to Romney, Gingrich, and maybe Perry, if he can present some new ideas cogently enough to capture supporters of the “dropout” candidates. A lot will depend on what currently “undecided” voters and supporters of Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, and Huntsman do. If Romney’s support in actual primaries remains less than 30%, whichever of Gingrich or Perry is far behind will probably drop out and endorse the other. The only chance for a “brokered convention” is if Gingrich and Perry split the non-Romney vote fairly evenly, and neither is willing to drop out and endorse the other.

Steve Z on November 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM

LAWN GNOME (1) [Current 0.2%, Previous, 0.3%, High <5.0%]

Gnome is a city in Alaska–this is a secret vote for Palin! :)

Steve Z on November 29, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Hahahahahaha!!!! You and those who hold the same view as you are in the smallest portion of the tiniest iota of a miniscule minority that your non participation wont even be statistically measurable.

csdeven on November 29, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Then perhaps its time the Republican moderates go to the general WITHOUT the conservative base since you think we’re so small and unneeded!

At least I won’t have to listen to bullies like you pushing conservatives to vote for the moderate flavor of the month, else “its a vote for Obama”! Since you say you can carry it without us, be my guest…

I think its time for the base to consider splitting from the Republican party. Apparently there are a lot of people who seem determined to repeat history 154 years later…

dominigan on November 29, 2011 at 12:35 PM

I’m not sure if that’s entirely good for the party’s prospects, but it will certainly provide a more entertaining spectacle for those of us covering it.

posted at 8:05 am on November 29, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

I’m with Jazz on this one. I’m not sure if a long, drawn-out process is a benefit or not either. Last time around in 2008, it wasn’t – the Democratic Party Propaganda Corps (also known as the Drive-by Media) spent all their time attacking the Republican VP nominee and there was absolutely no vetting whatsoever of the virtually unknown Democrat Presidential candidate. So if the media has less time to think up ways to destroy the eventual nominee, that is a good thing. on the other hand, a late entry means that the media has more time to play shill for Teh Won, and the Republican candidate has less time to point out Obama’s abysmal performance to the ignorant Jersey Shore watching, Drive-By Media following fools who decide elections in this country.

However, I do agree that as far as the brokered convention idea, the Salon writer is engaging in some wishful thinking. Of course, this would be wonderful for the media – more time to push the ‘Republicans are s-c-a-r-y’ meme. But I don’t see it happening.

StoneHeads on November 29, 2011 at 3:05 PM

The most ridiculous story to come down the pike every four years is the “brokered convention.” Why? Because the media would LOVE for it to happen, regardless of whether its Dems or Repubs. It’d be cool, so they push for it.

The fact of the matter is that this will NEVER happen…it is a non-story.

According to this theory, shouldn’t it have happened between Obama and Hillary last year, as it went down to the final states?

It ain’t ever going to happen.

Repeat: It ain’t ever going to happen.

asc85 on November 29, 2011 at 3:56 PM