How the GOP nominee could be decided at a brokered convention

GOP strategists think that if a single candidate fails to win two of the first four races — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — the elections that take place immediately after those states vote could turn out any number of ways. And because RNC rules require the states that hold elections before March 15 to award their delegates proportionally, the later races could have a significant influence on the outcome of the nomination process.

“If one candidate wins one winner-take-all [state] and a couple other candidates win other winner-take-all [states], you can see a scenario where it’s possible that nobody would have 50 percent of the delegates going into the convention,” Munisteri says, acknowledging that the Paul campaign is preparing for a lengthy fight. “The key strategy for us is to focus on the immediate states while at the same time being prepared to react quickly to the later states.”…

Only one scenario could produce such an outcome, Dawson estimates. “You’ve got to have somebody in second or third place win California [which allocates 172 delegates], then you’ve got a conversation,” he says. “But how does that happen? Beats the hell out of me.” TV-ad time in California costs an enormous amount of money, far too much for a typical defeated candidate to afford.

Defeated or not, Jeb Bush will not have a typical war- hest. “For the first time in many years, California could be in play,” says a delegate who sat on the RNC Rules Committee in 2012.