Days of Change


December 11, 2015

This week brought talk of a possible brokered Republican Convention in 2016. The theory goes like this. Donald Trump is at maximum media exposure and name recognition and is polling somewhere around 40%. If he continues at that level, he could win a lot of three-way primaries. In fact, Trump could pile up delegates pretty fast in winner-take-all states.

Under the rules of the convention, anyone with less than half the delegates would need other delegates released from candidates who don’t have a chance. In the case where no one has a majority of delegates, there would be a brokered convention, or another ballot, neither of which is a great option.

The Democrats developed a different system after the chaos of 1968. Besides the regular delegates, there are┬ámany unpledged, or “super” delegates. They can choose their loyalties up to the convention itself. Barack Obama was greatly helped by super delegates publicly supporting him, signalling to Democrats that he was the choice of nominee against the Republicans in 2008. Even though she ran in all the states, Hillary Clinton had almost no support from the party by the end. At the convention, Obama’s narrow majority of delegates was presented as a mandate.

The Republicans will need to do a lot more to take Trump out and it will probably be ugly. If Trump has fewer than half the delegates fully committed to him, it’s possible that the other candidates could get behind one candidates with the second largest number of delegates and beat Trump in a second ballot. However, we already know that Ben Carson will not be a party to such and action, making it even less likely that could happen.

I still think most of this talk is premature. Iowa doesn’t look especially good for Trump. There are still too many GOP contenders to make a competitor to Trump apparent. Bad mouthing the Republicans or other candidates could sour Republican primary voters on Trump. Or Trump could run away with all the primary wins and blow everyone else out of the water.


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