Can GOP candidates wheel and deal with their delegates before the first ballot?

This of course only matters if after the primaries no one has an outright majority.

There has been talk on podcasts I’ve been listening to about the fact that delegates are bound only on the first ballot, and most of them are not actually hard-core supporters of the candidate they are bound to, but just Republican stalwarts in their state who are being rewarded by the party with a nice trip to the national convention. Their speculation is that since they are only bound to their particular candidate on the first ballot, the second ballot could go very “establishment” even if the majority of delegates are pledged to non-establishment candidates.

But of course the delegate counts will be known well before the convention is gaveled into order. What I’m wondering is if candidates control their bound slates of delegates on the first ballot. Could a coalition of candidates make a deal to combine forces and compel their delegates to go along with the plan? The most obvious scenario, which seems like it would be the least controversial, is for the top two to agree to run as a ticket with the leading delegate winner at the top and the other one as running mate. This would still forestall some kind of weirdness like Romney or Ryan swooping in and grabbing the nom on the second ballot.

But what if number two conspires with three and four, and two and three run as a ticket, with four being promised Secretary of State? Maybe Trump has 40% of the delegates, Cruz has 25%, Rubio has 20%, and Kasich has 7%. Can those latter three conspire to muscle Trump out on the first ballot? Or does everyone just have to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged on the first ballot, and then vote as they like afterward?

Fascinating question. And I’m sure I don’t know anything relevant to the answer.

But this gives me an idea:

Given that, what’s to prevent the “establishment” operatives from packing the delegate ranks with, say, Kasich supporters? After all, each state’s party leadership hand-picks the delegates according to whatever criteria they want.

As long as the actual front runner of the primaries doesn’t clinch the nomination on the first ballot, the reveal on the second ballot is that all the delegates are really closet Kasich men & women.

I’m not seriously suggesting Kasich would be the “establishment” choice, but you can see how, at least theoretically, the party leadership could arrange an outcome very far at odds with what happened over the course of the primaries.

In one sense it’s a trick they can only get away with once. But cornered people sometimes do desperate things. And the RNC establishment has definitely got to be feeling cornered now, and I’ll wager will be even more cornered going forward.

As well, they can console themselves with the idea that their conservative voters who feel cheated by Candidate Kasich sure aren’t going to defect to the Dems. They’ll whine, they’ll complain, they may even stay home on election day. But they won’t abandon the Republican movement come 2018 & 2020.

Could happen! But I think it’s the state parties that pick those delegates, not the national RNC.

Here’s a link:

That page, and other pages linked to it, will tell you how each party allocates how many delegates each state gets and how delegates are selected.

Interesting, thanks. I’m surprised that despite its seeming to be so thorough, it doesn’t answer my original question. The closest I found was this:

But it’s still not clear if that just means they are bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to, or if the candidate can direct them to vote for someone else after making a deal.

Washington Post

*I believe this applies only to bound delegates. There will also be unbound delegates, who can vote individually.

BTW, promising a position in return for support is illegal.

It can still be agreed to under the table.

But fine, let’s imagine there was no such deal–just a coalition of candidates that did not want to allow Trump (or maybe Cruz) to become the nominee, even though he had the largest plurality of delegates. That would be predicated on candidates’ being able to control their delegates on the first round, and there is still no answer on that.

I can find no backing for the notion that candidates can control bound delegates on the first round. I found evidence against it. Unless you can find a cite that says it’s possible, I’ll stick with saying that it is impossible.

Evidence against it? Please share!

Post #6. If you’re not reading other peoples’ answers why bother to ask a question?

I read all the posts. I even responded specifically to that one. I don’t see how that says what you are claiming it does.

That doesn’t leave any wriggle room, to my eyes.

It does to me, because I don’t know what “bound to candidates” means. You are apparently sure it means they must vote for those candidates and no other, while the language sounds to me like it could be like bound/indentured servants who can be directed to vote otherwise by the candidate to whom they are bound.

Certainly in those classic political films Gore Vidal wrote, like The Best Man, that was the way conventions were portrayed.

These rules were written after the 2012 election, not in the Neolithic.

Mmkay, but they are not clear about the point I am raising. I get that they got very concerned about faithless delegates or stealth delegates after 2012, but this is quite different, as it would treat delegates as a candidate’s pawns on a political chessboard.

I don’t know what you mean by that. So here’s my take.

You don’t seem to understand how rigged the game is.

There has never been a brokered convention in the history of the primary era. The last second ballot took place in 1952. Not having a candidate set several months before the convention has been seen as certain death by the leaders of both parties for their adult lifetimes. Conventions are infomercials that are as scripted and smoothly run as a Cirque de Soliel performance. One deviation can be crippling and possibly mean death.

Everything - everything - is set up to ensure the party’s candidate is serenaded and lauded with the maximum amount of propaganda. There won’t be a second ballot this year either, because nobody will ever let it get that far. That’s one reason the rules are written as they are: they are more insurance that nothing any rogue candidate can try will interrupt the coronation.

Your scenario won’t happen not just because it’s the stuff of political novels. It won’t happen because the house rules won’t let it happen.

This rant ignores the possibility that no one candidate will have more than 50% of the delegates after the primaries are over. If you think it’s so rigged as to make that impossible, then you are off in tinfoil hat territory.

And in 1976, it should be noted, the GOP Convention was more than just a prepackaged dog and pony show:

The convention will be held in 2016, not at any time in the past.

And here is an interesting twist: In 2012 Mitt Romney’s people put it an interesting little rule: Rule 40(b). They put it there because they were afraid Ron Paul would challenge President Mittens in the 2016 primary. It says that no candidate’s name shall be put into nomination unless he has a majority (NOT a plurality) in 8 states.

Consider this scenario: Jeb! sweeps the vote in Guam, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. No other candidate has a majority in 8 states. Jeb!'s name will be the only one placed in nomination at the convention.

The Republicans can still change this rule. Many pundits said that they would surely change it at their winter meeting. They actually voted to change it…and then they voted to change it back.

I understand that there will be another opportunity to change it about a week before the convention. There will be another opportunity for shenanigans. Say Donald is in the lead, but holds a majority in 10 states. Jeb! is far behind and holds a majority in 12 states. They can vote to change the threshold to 11 states.