Republican Primary: Your guide to a Brokered Convention or Floor Fight!!! takes no political position or endorses any candidate. Be sure to follow my blog or circle me on google+

What happens if none of the candidates receive a majority of the delegates and super delegates by convention?

There is a distinct possibility that none of the GOP candidates make it to convention with majority of the delegates if the remaining candidates stay in. This is not good for a party because it leaves candidates fighting each other versus the other party. This is one of the reasons why people will switch parties to vote in a primary to keep the fight going.
According to the associated press, Trump is leading with 82 delegates, Cruz has 17, Rubio has 16, Kasich has 6, and Carson has 4.  1237 are needed and 2,340 are left.  Trump has a clear lead but is 1237 is a long ways to go.  So what happens if he does not make it before convention.  To understand what happens one needs to understand the process.

The Process

Candidates run in each primary and caucus.  The people in the states are not actually voting for a candidate but are voting for a delegate to represent them at convention. So if you vote for Kasich, you are actually voting for a delegate who will vote for Kasich.  This is called a pledged delegate.  Most states award their delegates proportionally. but some are winner take all.    After all states and territories have their primary or caucus a meeting of the delegates occurs at a state convention or simple meeting.  After this the delegates go to the convention and vote.  The first vote at convention a pledged delegate is required to, though there are ways around this, to vote for the candidate they are pledged to. Also, even if a candidate has left the race, his delegates are still pledged and that candidate cannot allocate their delegates to another candidate.

Super Delegates

In the GOP process each state has 3 delegates that are unpledged.  These are party chairmen and high party officials.  They may choose who they support at any time up to convention.  The general point of super delegates is to swing for a nominee in the instance there are problems with a nominee in order to help the party.  Candidates court the votes of these delegates to add to their total. 

Delegate Poaching

After the primary or caucus has occurred a convention or meeting occurs to select delegates and pledge them to a candidate.  Candidates can try to poach delegates at these conventions by trying to change delegates minds or gathering delegates from candidates that have dropped out.  All of these delegates are supposed to be pledged, but Ron Paul demonstrated in the past few elections his ability to poach pledged delegates and raise his vote count.  

Candidate tactical options.

 If it appears that there is no clear path to 1283 then the candidates can employ several tactics.  
1. Super delegates-   A candidate can court the vote of unpledged and pledged super delegates.  Inform them that they need to swing votes to them to gain a majority so the party can unify and stop infighting.
2. Poach delegates-  A candidate will do the same thing they will with super delegates but contact pledged delegates and inform them they need to certify their pledge elsewhere.  Pick up any delegates that were randomly left pledged to undecided.
3. Get endorsements from former candidates- A candidate can contact former candidates and try to get their public endorsement and get that candidate to try to urge his delegates to switch.
4. Promise cabinet positions or VP spot- A candidate can ask another candidate who is still running to drop and ask their supporters to switch by pledging them a high cabinet position or even a spot as vice president on the ticket.
5. Broker ahead of convention-   A candidate will meet with all candidates and party leaders and get all to drop but one and figure out what everyone gets out of it.
6. Shape public opinion- A candidate must get out, spend money, and convince the public that he or she is the best nominee.

Brokered Convention and Floor Fight

So no candidate has the majority and no one has organized a process to make it a clean convention.  It is now time for the candidates to fight for every vote they can. Once the first ballot is cast the delegates are released and their can be several votes after this.  The 1952 Democratic convention went 103 ballots before deciding a candidate. So after the first vote the slate is clean and ANYONE can try to get delegates.  So if party leaders and delegates look at the current candidates and do not like any of them they can begin a movement to "draft" a person, sometimes against their will.(This is where the Sherman phrase, "I will not seek nor accept my party's nomination" comes from.)  This means a person who was not even running for president can start snagging up delegates.  So a candidate has to organize surrogates to go down to the floor whip votes and fight off other surrogates. This process becomes very ugly and with modern media capturing everything on camera, this can be a black eye on a party. The longer this process goes the more unorganized a party appears and the less likely their candidate is to win.  The last person nominated at a brokered convention to win was Franklin Roosevelt in 1924. 

History of floor fights.

 Below here I am going to paste in a history of floor fights from wikipedia.  I think it has an excellent synopsis of the history of brokered conventions.
Before the era of presidential primary elections, political party conventions were routinely brokered. The Democratic Party required two-thirds of delegates to choose a candidate, starting with the first Democratic National Convention in 1832, and then at every convention from 1844 until 1936. This made it far more likely to have a brokered convention, particularly when two strong factions existed. The most infamous example was at the 1924 Democratic National Convention (the Klanbake), where the divisions between Wets and Drys on Prohibition (and other issues) led to 102 ballots of deadlock between frontrunners Alfred E. Smith and William G. McAdoo before dark horse John W. Davis was chosen as a compromise candidate on the 103rd ballot. Adlai Stevenson (of the 1952 Democratic Party) and Thomas E. Dewey (of the 1948 Republican Party) were the most recent "brokered convention" presidential nominees, of their respective parties. The last winning U.S. presidential nominee produced by a brokered convention was Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1932.

Conventions close to being brokered[edit]

Since 1952, there have been many years when brokered conventions were projected but did not come to pass:
  • The Democratic Party's 1968 convention might have been brokered if Robert F. Kennedy had not been assassinated. He had won most of the primaries, but not enough delegates were then selected by primaries to determine the presidential nominee. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had decided against running for a second term, still controlled most of the party machinery and used it in support of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who did not contest the primaries. If Kennedy had lived, the convention likely would have been divided between him and Humphrey's supporters.
  • In 1976, the Republican primaries gave President Gerald Ford a slight lead in both popular vote and delegates before the Republican National Convention, but he did not have enough delegates to secure the nomination. A brokered convention was predicted but Ford managed to receive the necessary support on the first ballot to edge Ronald Reagan. That is the last time a Republican presidential convention opened without the nominee having already been decided in the primaries.[5]
  • In 1980, Senator Ted Kennedy, challenging incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination, fell short in the primaries, but he was still angling for delegates to switch over to him when he arrived at the Democratic convention in August. However, Carter won handily on the first ballot, and Kennedy finally dropped out of the running a few hours later.
  • In 1984, as a result of the Democratic primaries, former Vice President Walter Mondale was the clear frontrunner but remained 40 delegates short of clinching the nomination. His nomination had to be formalized at the convention, being the last time that any presidential convention opened without the nominee having already been decided in the primaries. However, a convention fight was unlikely, as rival Gary Hart was lobbying for the Vice Presidential slot on the ticket and was resigned to the likely possibility that Mondale would receive the nomination. Mondale indeed received the overwhelming support of superdelegates on the first ballot to become the Democratic presidential candidate.[6]
  • In 1988, a brokered convention was predicted for the Democrats. There was initially no clear frontrunner since Gary Hart had withdrawn. Also, Michael DukakisAl Gore, and Jesse Jackson each won multiple primaries on Super Tuesday.[7] Dukakis was named the frontrunner by the media, as he drew support from all sections of the nation while other candidates' support was largely limited to their native regions, and he maintained the momentum and secured the nomination in the next round of primaries.
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