Odds of a brokered convention? Either side.

I’ve been speculating about this in various threads for a while now, but as things move along it seems like it deserves its own space.

Republican side. It’s a four way race. The Pubs have some significant winner take all primaries and of them Guillianni will likely a few.

“Front-runner” is over-optimistic of his camp I think, but getting enough to stay a factor seems likely. Call him 10-15% of the delegates.

McCain and Romney might both keep slogging at it through “March madness” anyway, each probably coming out with 30% of the delegates more or less (McCain more, Romney less). McCain may start getting some momentum after SC but I wouldn’t be sure.

And Huckabee will stay in it picking up 15 to 20%.

A real possibility of no plurality.

The Dem side. Obama will go into Super Tuesday likely bouncing off a sizable win in SC. Given the way Democratic delegates are allocated (see for example that Obama got more delegates out of Nevada than HRC did despite losing the plurality and currently leads the delegate count dspite his winning only one state outright), it could stay neck and neck even if he loses the popular vote in the big states like California and New York. Between the ones that Edwards will pick up and the 20% of delegates that are unpledged unelected superdelegates, neither of them may have over 50% of the delegates and be neck and neck in total delegates and popular vote overall. That could leave Edwards as kingmaker or the superdelegates deciding the nominee in newly smoke-free back rooms. And some bitter arguments over whether to seat delegates from MI and FLA that will have gone basically uncontested to HRC.

How likely are these possibilities for either side?

My gut reaction is that brokered conventions are a political junkie fanwank, with the emphasis on WANK, and are not going to happen. Only true political junkies, and that includes all professional political writers, look forward to this.

For the remaining 99.99% of the citizenry, a convention that is full of conflict, drama, and deal-making may be “exciting television” but is also a a sign of a political party that is unfit for office. Examples include the 1968 and 1972 Democratic Conventions, the 1992 Republican Convention (well, just Pat Buchanan’s speech), and the 2000 Reform Party Conventions (plural!).

Actually thinking about the OP - and putting on my Political Junkie hat - the Republican nomination race is looking interesting, in ways that usually only happen to Democratic candidates. Things could be neck and neck until the end of the primaries. I suspect the Republican candidates will come to some kind of agreement before the convention. If they don’t, and if their convention is “exciting television”, they’re going to lose big time.

On the Democratic side, I think the nomination will be decide by Tsunami Tuesday, or very soon thereafter. I doubt any second or third place campaign will be able to raise enough money to keep going after that. If somehow the nomination race goes on until the convention, and the Democrats convention is “brokered”, then the Democrats will lose the general election. Historians will be talking about that turn-around for a long time, but as a Democrat I think one cannot overestimate the Democratic Party’s ability to lose an election no matter how big the lead early on.

Edwards has 50 delegates so far (with most of those being superdelegates), and appears unlikely to pick up many more, as the Dem race has solidified as the two-person race the MSM have wanted all along.

2,025 delegates are needed to win, which means there’s over 4000 delegates altogether. We’ll have a brokered convention if Hillary’s and Obama’s delegate totals differ by less than Edwards’ total. Even if Edwards doubles his total - an outcome that’s already appearing unlikely - the chance that Hillary and Obama will be separated by such a slender margin at the end is remote.

No brokered Dem convention.

Rudy may win CT. He probably won’t win NY, I think.

On the GOP side, Fred Thompson just gave it his best shot in SC, and came away empty. So it’s down to a four-candidate race.

But each of the four has good chances of picking up substantial numbers of delegates on Super Tuesday and before. The four are within six points of each other in RCP’s averages; anyone could win it. Each stands to win at least some states on Super Tuesday; none of them will have the time to personally campaign nontrivially in even half the Super Tuesday states, and nobody seems to have money to pay for ads in most of those states, either. No matter whether Rudy wins or loses FL, he’s got a good chance of coming away with the three NYC-area states, and their winner-take-all delegate troves, totalling 183 delegates (out of 2380 total). If he wins Florida, that’s up to 240, or over 10%. That’s the fourth-place candidate in this race.

McCain is the only guy who has the possibility of putting away the GOP race on Super Tuesday or soon afterwards, and it really depends on his (a) winning Florida, and (b) turning that into enough of a bandwagon that he’s able to win states where he isn’t able to spend time in, or run ads in.

I think it’s possible, but I still think it’s iffy. For one thing, McCain has won two primaries in open-primary states, and without his edge among independents and crossover Dems, he’d have won none. He’s yet to have won a plurality of Republicans in a primary, as strange as that may seem.

But about half the Super Tuesday states are closed primaries, so McCain has to start managing that trick soon if he’s to win this thing. Otherwise, there’s a fairly low ceiling on how well he can do.

Huckabee’s got a bit of a ceiling problem, too: he’s just not doing that well amongst non-evangelicals. But there’s a lot of them in the Southern and border states. He’ll add to his current 40 delegates by winning most or all of Arkansas’ (district WTA) 34, plus he should win some Congressional districts in Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee (216 delegates total), which are all district WTA. He should come out of Super Tuesday with 150+ delegates, minimum.

And Romney excites nobody, yet he leads in delegates with 59 so far. He’ll get Utah’s (winner-take-all) 36 delegates, and probably a hefty share of MA’s (proportional) 43, plus a decent handful in other states where he’s competitive. So I’d expect him to come out of Super Tuesday with a minimum of 150 delegates, and possibly a few hundred.

To avoid the prospect of a prolonged nomination fight and the possibility of a brokered convention, McCain needs to hold everybody close to their minimums. I’d personally say the odds against a brokered convention are getting fairly short by the standards of the last 35 years - maybe 3 or 4 to 1 against.

On the Democratic side, I see a very small chance of a brokered convention. At this point, it’s a two person race, and it comes down to mega-Tuesday. If Clinton is perceived (i.e. anointed by the media) as having scored a fairly clear win, Obama is out. If Obama is perceived as having won or tied, he’ll been seen as having broken the front-running Clinton in the big game, and should be able to leverage that into wins in most of the remaining states. Yes, there is some gray area between the two, but the perception should solidify shortly after the results are counted.

On the Republican side, there’s a good chance of there not being a clear winner until late in the game (and perhaps until the convention) if Giuliani wins Florida. If he loses Florida, he’s out (whether he quits or not, nobody will vote for him), and though Romney and Huckabee each have their constituencies, McCain is the only guy with broad-based appeal and seen to be the front-runner. With so many winner-takes-all primaries, McCain should be able to score in states with the majority of delegates.

If Giuliani wins Florida, it will be a muddle. Even with a narrow win, his Florida-only strategy will be seen as having worked, and he’ll get a boost. Though he wouldn’t win New York in the general election, he’ll take it in the primary, and I doubt any of the others have the war chest to buy in the New York media market to challenge him in the neighboring states where he’ll be concentrating. Because of his name recognition and a boost from Florida, he’ll get a lot of support around the country, even though his poll numbers have been dropping to date.

Because nobody will have the money to compete everywhere (or even much of anywhere), everyone will focus where they’re strongest and in a few battleground states. As such, there will be a big patchwork of results, with everybody coming out with something. If nobody has a near majority, each candidate will stay in the race with hopes of brokering their share into a VP nod at least. At that point, it will be a state by state slog until one of them actually captures the delegates needed to win, either by winning them outright or making a deal to give one of the others the VP slot. If that doesn’t happen, watch for fireworks on the convention floor.

I think it’ll be fascinating, from a game-theoretic perspective, to see who actively campaigns where, in the states like IL, MO, PA, MN, etc., that aren’t a particular gimme for anyone.

Both parties, zero chance.

Dems: Edwards will probably drop out after getting crushed in SC. If he doesn’t, he’ll be a laughingstock and a non-factor. All Clinton has to do is win about 55% of the delegates on Super Tuesday, which she has the organization and the money and the poll numbers to do, and it’s over.

GOP: Thompson, Giuliani, and Huckabee are all circling the drain. McCain is already inching ahead of Giuliani in the latest Florida polls, and will probably move further ahead as he spends more time there and enjoys an SC boost. If Giuliani loses FL by even one vote, he’s out. Huckabee couldn’t win a primary on the friendliest possible turf; he’ll soon be out. Republicans will note McCain’s appeal to independents and will increasingly perceive him as the only candidate with even a ghost of a chance to beat the hated Hillary in the fall. By 2/6 he’ll probably be the presumptive nominee.

I understand the fascination with brokered conventions. I love reading about the old-time conventions in history books (great example: Happy Days are Here Again, about the 1932 Dems, by Steve Neal). I’m old enough to remember when conventions held at least some drama–as a 12-year-old boy I watched with rapt fascination as the 1972 Democrats tore themselves apart in credentials fights and voted for 79 different candidates for Vice President.

But those days are over, and they aren’t coming back–not this year, nor ever. Parties with fractured conventions lose elections. As we move further into the primary season, there will be overwhelming, unrelenting pressure on trailing candidates to drop out. The conventions will be infomercials, this year and every year.

The only way I can see a brokered convention for the Republicans would be if McCain wins a majority of votes in the primaries, but dies (or has a debilitating stoke) before the convention. McCain’s in good health, so it’s not going to happen. Needless to say this would be a tragedy for the GOP and any chance of a victory in November.

Speaking as a Missourian, I kind of wonder myself when we’ll see a candidate, & if we see none before Feb 5, who will win here.

Nitpick: there has to be a plurality, unless there’s an exact tie at the top. There might not be a majority, though.

With 58 WTA delegates, it would surprise me if nobody showed up.

This I agree with

This is probably true, but I’m not sure it is 100%. If Edwards drops out and endorses Barack, the Feb 5 primaries could be quite close. Since they are all proportional, getting 55% will only give a lead of 200 delegates or so. If Obama is viewed as viable at this point, having withstood the Clinton onslaught, it is certainly possible he can win enough contests from there out to win the nomination.

As for the Reps, well, it seems like it’s McCain’s to lose. They looked desperately for the next Reagan and couldn’t find him. So they defaulted to the runner-up last time. It’s like a Dole repeat.

Well, I think I heard Romney’s coming through. I don’t know if the Dems are paying us any attention, though.