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Apr 28, 2016

The Election Process Part 2

Brokered Conventions and Electoral Colleges
As 2016 primaries and caucuses continue on the dates set by individual states, there isn’t a clear nominee for either Republicans or Democrats. The delegate counts are widen between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, and superdelegates are projected to give Clinton an even stronger edge. Three people remain in the Republican race: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. It appears less possible throughout the delegate process that the frontrunner, Trump, will be able to gain the minimum 50 percent of delegates in order to win the Republican nomination. A brokered Republican convention appears imminent. 

What is a brokered convention?
A brokered convention is also called a contested convention. This type of convention occurs only when none of the candidates for president has won a majority of the delegates through primaries and caucuses. Republican presidential candidates must win at least 1,237 of the 2,472 available delegates. Democratic presidential candidates must win at least 2,383 delegates during caucuses and primaries.

Trump leads in the delegate count, Cruz follows and Kasich garners a small measure of votes at caucuses and primaries. There is a great deal of speculation as to why he remains in the race. The National Review says in an article titled, “The Insane Campaign of John Kasich,” that neither the GOP establishment nor the media are calling Kasich out for staying in a race that he cannot possibly win. Mitt Romney claims that a vote for Kasich is equivalent to a Trump vote, according to the article. As recently as April 11 in the Washington Times, Ohio Governor Kasich is claiming to give Republicans the best chance to win against either Clinton or Sanders. This suggests that he believes a brokered convention could mean that he becomes the Republican nominee whose name is on the November presidential ballot.

How does a brokered convention work?
There are two rounds of voting in a brokered convention. 

Round one. Delegates are typically required to vote for whichever candidate(s) they pledged to support during their state’s caucus or primary, but this depends on the rules for each specific state. A USAToday article points out that the 99 Florida delegates, for example, must vote for Trump, who won the March 15 primary.

Approximately five percent of delegates are unpledged at Republican conventions. Regardless of primary and caucus results, those delegates can vote for whomever they want.

After the delegate count, if no candidate has won the majority of delegates, it’s possible that total chaos will follow. A floor fight to determine the nominee is expected to involve rules fights, demonstrations among the delegates, multiple ballots, and the introduction of nominees who didn’t even enter the race for the presidency. 

Round two or more. Delegates are unbound and can vote for whomever they want during all rounds following the first. Between votes, negotiations occur. Arguments will likely be made by party leaders who suggest that their choice for presidential nominee would have the best chance of beating the presumed winner of the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. No one is required to vote a certain way, which means that the process can go on for an incredibly long period of time. The voting comes to an end when one nominee has finally won at least 51 percent of delegate votes.

Brokered conventions in the past: In 1952, Adlai Stevenson was chosen as the Democratic nominee after three rounds of voting. In 1920, it took 103 rounds before John W. Davis was finally selected as the Democratic nominee.

How likely is it that a person who didn’t run for president will be the nominee?
Stephen Wayne is a professor of government at Georgetown University, and he is quoted in USAToday College saying that he doesn’t believe there will be a brokered Republican convention and that Trump will be successful in gaining a majority of delegates. Clearly, Trump has a long way to go between now and the final primary elections on June 7 in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. Right now, none of the three candidates has a true, clear path to victory.

As quoted in The Hill, Curly Haugland of the Republican National Committee’s Rules Committee recently and famously said that there has been a false perception created by the media that voters select the nominee and that political parties actually make that choice.

Many expert opinions have been published, and there is no real consensus as to whether the result of a brokered Republican convention will be that the ultimate nominee is someone other than those currently in the race. There is, however, a very real possibility that the results of primaries and caucuses will be completely scrapped in the selection of the Republican presidential nominee. This event would no doubt create tremendous division between voters and the powers that be in their party. Many say it would fracture the Republican Party. 

How does the Electoral College system work?
The Electoral College system is frequently criticized because it sometimes prevents the nominee with the most votes from becoming president. Proponents favor the system because it ensures that smaller states have a proportionately equal say in the election process. There are detailed variations from state-to-state, which is another component that makes the entire election process very confusing. The Huffington Post provides examples of various scenarios that complicate the process, in a recent article about Electoral Colleges.

That being said, here is how the Electoral College system works:
There are 538 electors in the Electoral College. The nation’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and 3 electors assigned to the District of Columbia total 538 electors. On November 8, 2016, voters who cast their votes choose the candidate who will receive their state’s electors. Whichever candidate receives the majority, or 270 electoral votes, becomes the President.

About the Writer

Stephanie McHugh

Contributing Writer

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