Observers who had hoped for a contested convention on the Republican side might still get a taste of that as deep rifts appear within the GOP, whose new motto might as well be “divided we stand”. Presumptive nominee Donald Trump lashed out at Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who came out on Thursday with a stunning announcement that he was not ready to endorse the belligerent billionaire. Trump responded by immediately threatening to remove Ryan from his position as Chairman of the convention, and controversial former VP nominee Sarah Palin chimed in that Ryan should be removed from office for not supporting the frontrunner. The GOP’s eight year, obdurate stance on obstructionism and being “the party of no” has finally brought home its biggest prize: chaos and divisiveness within its own ranks.
A brokered convention is held when a candidate has not clearly won the majority vote of delegates securing their position on the ballot. Typically found in elections where there are deep splits within the Party, as there with the GOP in 2016. In addition, brokered conventions are held if the front runner coming into the election is weak, lacks support, and is expected to lose the November election.
Most people know all about the primaries, because they get so much media attention. But people often forget that the final say comes down to the delegates. In fact, there is no law that states delegates cannot overrule the general population if the majority rules in favor of a certain decision. In addition, there have been several cases held by the Supreme Court siding with the political parties First Amendment rights giving the party a win against state law.
A History of Brokered Conventions
The United States has not had a brokered convention since 1952 when Adlai Stevenson (of the 1952 Democratic Party) and Dwight Eisenhower (of the 1952 Republican Party) faced the process in their respective parties. Since then, no other brokered conventions have been held during the presidential nominations.
Modern Convention Politics
Some are concerned with the modern process of a brokered convention because of the ever changing rules depending on the level of voting. For example, if the convention goes beyond the “first ballot” then the underlying rules and regulations change quite a bit. In addition, each state has their own rules when it comes to how delegates are chosen and which delegates are allowed to vote in a convention, causing a wider range of support potential.
Another factor of a brokered convention in 2016 is that the participants of the convention will be much different than those who participated in such events in the past. For example, modern participants would include campaign participants, political consultants, and other groups to help decide the final outcome. Making this process a wider net of potential influence.
Democratic Impact of a Brokered Convention
If the Democratic Party goes to a brokered convention, what can we expect to see during the process? Actually the process of a Democratic brokered convention is similar to the standard voting platform. A majority vote is required by the convention delegates to determine the winning candidate. If a majority vote is not agreed upon, the balloting will continue until a majority vote has been established.
Republican Impact of a Brokered Convention
The Republican party is a bit more complicated, and the “rules” of the convention can change and often times will change much more frequently. For example, the Rule 40b of the RNC states that a candidate must have the majority votes of at least 8 states to win the nomination, however if the candidate fails to get the required number of votes, the chairman calls for a recast roll of states until a candidate obtains the necessary count.
To add to the confusion and complexity, on March 16, 2016, John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House, stated that if the nominations held a brokered convention, when would support the current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. This raised concern and debate by implying the Republican Party is not bound to select a candidate who is participating in the current primary election process.