Open Thread: Chances Of A Brokered Convention?

I’m a policy wonk, not a political horse-trader. But in this comment, Doug suggests that a brokered convention is becoming unlikely. I’m not sure I believe that, as there are still three candidates in the race, and it won’t take too much for them to split what’s left.

Huckabee has done very well in the South, which could help him in MS, LA, TX, KY, NC and VA, especially since his momentum will carry him well as LA and VA as they hold primaries within the next week.

Romney has done well in the Rocky Mountain states and Northeast, though I’m not sure how that will translate to the Pacific Northwest and rust belt states. He and Huck could be battling for SD and NE, and I’m not sure where WI will fall.

For McCain, the “matching-funds” issue is still lingering. If he can’t get out of the matching funds and his campaign goes dark, he might have trouble reaching 1191.

Now, I’m not sure which of the remaining states are “winner-take-all” states, and I’m not sure what the polling data is currently revealing in any of those states. But intuitively, I don’t see McCain having such an overwhelming advantage, assuming the other two stay in the race, that he is virtually guaranteed to reach 1191. There’s a lot of establishment resistance to his candidacy, although like Radley Balko, I’m not sure why, and between Romney and Huckabee, they could win enough states to keep the game alive, and they’re both in a situation that I can’t see them dropping out of the race.

So as a policy wonk, I want to open this up to the readership here. What are the chances of a brokered convention at this stage in the game?

  • Doug Mataconis

    One thought, John McCain will win Virginia for two reasons.

    1. Romney and Huckabee will split the conservative vote, although I expect Huckabee to do better than Romney in the rural parts of the state that are the most conservative (and also the most religious)

    2. McCain will win Northern Virginia, largely because Republicans here are more moderate than the state as a whole, and he’ll win the Tidewater region thanks to his military connections (Norfolk is the site of a major Naval base for those who don’t know).

    Winning big in those two regions will be enough to win the state — as the Democrats have learned here over the past several election cycles — and all of the delegates at stake (Virginia is winner take all).

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  • Kevin

    Here’s another, McCain will win Louisiana easily for the following reasons:

    1) McCain’s strong in South Louisiana which has the bulk of the Republican votes.

    2) There will be low turnout and the only candidates that generate enthusiasm are McCain among RINOs and Huckabee among evangelicals.

    3) The entire GOP establishment in Louisiana is backing McCain.

    4) The Christians of Louisiana, Catholic and Protestant, simply won’t vote for a Mormon.

  • Kevin

    Another thing:

    5) A lot of veterans in Louisiana, and they’ll back McCain.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Yea, I forgot to mention the veteran factor in Virginia as well. We’ve got tons of vets here in Northern Va — not to mention all the people who work at Quantico, the Pentagon, and Ft. Belvoir. They’ll all go heavy for McCain.

  • Jeff Molby

    Louisiana doesn’t matter. Unless someone gets a clear majority in the primary, the delegates are selected based on the caucuses that were held two weeks ago.

  • Kevin


    Let’s be frank, the LA GOP rigged the Caucuses for McCain. Therefore, McCain will win Louisiana.

  • Brant

    There are not three candidates in the race. There are four. Ron Paul still has plenty of money and will be factor in many states even if he doesn’t win any. He has beaten each of the other three at least once.

  • Kevin


    I will be more of a factor in the presidential race than Ron Paul.

  • Brad Warbiany


    Ron Paul will be *ZERO* factor unless the convention is brokered, correct? After all, he’s got 16 delegates and hasn’t won a single state.

    Assuming the convention isn’t brokered (which is the discussion here), how do you assume he’ll be a factor?

  • Doug Mataconis


    There’s one other thing to keep in mind even if the convention is brokered.

    Under the GOP’s convention rules, if there is no winner on a first (or second ?) ballot, the only candidates who can be considered from that point forward are ones who’ve won at least 5 state primaries or caucuses. Paul would be shut out of a brokered convention.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Here’s RNC Rule 40(b)

    Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of five (5) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.

    As I read it, if a candidate doesn’t win at least five states their name won’t even be called during the nominating phase of the convention.

  • Kevin


    Ron Paul has won around zero states and I see nothing that demonstrates he will improve his standing.

  • Doug Mataconis


    I agree completely.

  • newman

    Ron Paul’s website is claiming he has 42 delegates.

    He still has raised more than 5 million dollars in about the last month, and he says he’s not dropping out.

    So even if his chances are next to nothing, he’s still a factor in the race.

  • Doug Mataconis

    Their math includes delegates in states where the process isn’t final yet so claiming they have 42 delegates is, to say the least, deceptive.

    5 million ? Obama raised 32 million. And what happened to the 23 million the campaign claimed it needed before Super Tuesday ?

    As Brad asked amy, outside of a brokered convention (which won’t happen and, even if it did, Paul would not be allowed to participate) how is Ron Paul a factor in this race going forward ?

  • SC

    About the only way Ron Paul is going to be a factor at all in the rest of the race MIGHT be as a spoiler if there is a particularly close state primary (i.e. if say two other candidates are neck-and-neck, Paul might draw that crucial one or two percent of votes away from one of them that would give the other the win), but that’s about it.

  • TerryP

    I don’t really know the rules but if Romney drops out his delegates come up for grabs I assume. In at least two states (Montana and Nevada) Paul finished second to Romney. It may be possible that the Romney delegates in those states as well as others could move to Paul instead of McCain or Huckabee, especially if our economy starts crashing and the war in Iraq starts taking a turn for the worse. Paul might look pretty good at that time for fiscal conservatives. The chances of this happening are remote but who knows. The Romney people do not like McCain or even Huckabee and while they may think Paul is a bit of a kook, they may back him just to piss the other candidates off.

    My guess is that Huckabee backs out later as well to take a position with McCain, possibly Vice President, and then McCain easily has enough delegates to win making how many Paul has a moot point. But I still think his candidacy will have some weight in just being a bit of a protest vote against McCain and for fiscal conservatism. Paul could start picking up some pretty big numbers, though not anywhere near enough to stop McCain from getting the nomination.