The perils of a contested convention

In both conventions, the tide turned when favorite sons — candidates with little support beyond their state delegations — moved toward the eventual nominee, Republican Gov. Harold Stassen of Minnesota to Gen. Eisenhower and Gov. Paul Dever of Massachusetts (along with former Secretary of Commerce Averell Harriman) to Mr. Stevenson.

That’s less likely in 2016, as the nearest equivalent to a favorite son, Mr. Kasich, who thus far has won only his own state, is planning a convention strategy designed to win on a second, third or perhaps even later ballot. Mr. Kasich and Mr. Cruz know that many convention delegates will wander far from their first-ballot commitments once the contest moves into later ballots.

The South Carolina delegates, all claimed by Mr. Trump, could drift to other candidates, especially since many of them will be chosen next month at a state convention whose membership was chosen long before Mr. Trump emerged as a serious contender. In Iowa, where Mr. Cruz prevailed in the caucuses, the delegate-selection process isn’t complete and in truth has only begun.

So there will be great implications for the Iowa GOP’s own convention this spring, when the party chooses 15 statewide delegates plus three party officials to travel to Cleveland along with the 15 selected according to the February caucus results. The result, on the second ballot if not on the first, could look a lot different from the final caucus results.