Could 2016 finally be the year of the brokered convention?! Mike Hunt Ray Rice thinks it might be, but Hanley is skeptical:

That scenario assumes the candidate isn’t determined prior to the convention. While the sheer number of candidates increases that probability, let’s remember that 1) it hasn’t happened in the modern primary era, and 2) we’re still a year away from the convention, and 5-6 months away from the first primaries (god willing and the states don’t go crazy). Candidates are going to start disappearing from any real consideration before that first convention, and then money will stop flowing to those who show poorly early on and redirect to the candidate the money likes, most likely producing a winner before the last primaries (unless all the states suddenly compress them so tightly there’s no time for that process to take place).

While recognizing the mathematical possibility of a brokered convention, I’d wager against it.

So would I. But I’d wager against it just a little bit less than usual, if Trump sticks around. Which I would also bet against, but things are not going According To Plan. And Trump has the potential – albeit a very unlikely one – to keep all of the oxygen out of the room until Iowa. He can keep the frontrunner seat warm, with little danger of other candidates being intimidated.

The most important thing is that Trump will not get the air of inevitability a leader would, if he is on top. That will encourage more candidates to try to stick around because the writing won’t be as clearly on the wall. Fundraising will push some candidates out almost immediately, but it’s easy to imagine an unusual number saying “Hold on until Super Tuesday, then I’ll show them!” and nobody will know what to do because of the Trump factor. So even if we wins Iowa and New Hampshire, you’re probably looking at at least three other candidates and maybe more. (There were four enduring candidates in 2012, including Ron Paul.)

The second most important thing is that the natural nominee is somebody that almost nobody has confidence in. There was definitely a dearth of confidence in Mitt Romney, but (a) not this much and (b) there were no other viable candidates. If Bush can’t convince people that he is Their Guy – which I think is possible – there is no other logical successor.

This is especially true given the oddity of the schedule. Won’t everyone coalesce around the most popular not-Trump? That assumes any sort of consistency, and the early schedule has one state that plays to the strengths of other candidates. Scott Walker is in a good position to be the top NTC in Iowa, Jeb or Kasich in New Hampshire, Cruz in South Carolina, and Rubio in Nevada. After that all hell breaks loose on Super Tuesday with a lot of delegates proportionally assigned. This is also where Trump is likely to struggle if his campaign has been going well up to this point.

Now, most likely Super Tuesday will declare the top NTC. In 2012, it sort of set up Santorum as the primary anti-Romney, but Gingrich still hung in there. Things could drag on. Especially if it’s one of those things where Jeb kinda does well enough to hang around but not well enough to inspire confidence, leaving hope for Kasich, Walker, or Rubio boosters. And since Trump does have the air of invincibility, he can be leading and have it still be considered a wide open race. (If somebody else is leading, it’s over.) If there’s much more dithering after that, and Trump does not have a majority…

All of this is very unlikely, of course. But short of the death of a frontrunner, this is the closest to a plausible scenario I have ever been able to really imagine. The combination of Trump and Jeb with potentially low ceilings make everything more complicated. So, too, may the proliferation of candidates, but I don’t expect that to last.

And even more glorious than anything? We could go into a brokered convention having no idea at all knowing who is going to win.

My money would be on Mitt Romney.


Category: Statehouse

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

9 Responses to Broken Convention!

  1. It certainly would be an interesting convention to watch.

  2. Abel Keogh says:

    If Biden gets in the race on the other side you could have two brokered conventions. And the Democratic one would be a lot more bloody.

    • trumwill says:

      I think it takes a Trump-sized knot for it to happen. Between Hillary and Joe, it’ll be Hillary unless she falls apart, and Joe if she does. I don’t think it’ll be competitive like 2008.

      • Dr X says:

        The Chicago burbs were crawling with coyotes a few years ago. A lot turned up in the city, too. Weirdest case, a coyote walked into a Quiznos sandwich shop in downtown Chicago (the Loop) and climbed into a beverage fridge.

        https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=kbYIPXIX5f8

        Working in the burbs, I had a sighting or two a week, especially around a forest preserve I used to pass through. Twice I came within a few feet of running one down with my car. Last couple of years, though, I haven’t spotted any. They’re still out there, but I’ve wondered if the population has declined a bit.

  3. Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

    For the record, the dates of the Privileged Four have been set:

    February 1: Iowa
    February 9: New Hampshire
    February 20: South Carolina
    February 23: Nevada

    What also helps Trump is that any primary held after March 14 can be winner take all. This benefits Trump as long as he remains the leader, because he doesn’t need a majority in any particular state to win. He can very easily win a majority of the delegates without winning a majority of the primary votes.

    Then again, Hillary Clinton received more votes in 2008 than Barack Obama, and all it got her was Secretary of State.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if more states chose to allocate their delegates proportionally in order to try to thwart Trump.

    • trumwill says:

      My guess is that if Trump actually makes it to Iowa, he’s going to underperform there in a pretty big way, at which point instead of a 20-30%er he’s going to be a 10-15%er at which point he’s going to have difficulty winning states.

      Which is my way of saying… if keeping the ball away from Trump is the goal, as well as avoiding a brokered convention, they might be better off avoiding proportionality.

    • Michael Drew says:

      “The Privileged Four.” Heh. I like that.

  4. JHanley says:

    I’d wager against it a little less than usual, too. As I hinted, both the sheer number of candidates and the recent compression of the primary elections will both make it harder, at the margin, to sufficiently narrow down the field to make for a brokered convention. I think it’s still too much at the margin to bet in favor of a brokered convention, but the odds have increased enough that I’d put less money down against it.

    And if it does happen, I’ll be mildly surprised, rather than stunned.

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