Road to GOP Brokered Convention 2016

This thread is about the odds, prospects and strategies of a GOP brokered or contested convention, where no candidate wins during the first ballot. Also establishment maneuvering and machinations.

Trump and Cruz are unacceptable Presidential candidates for the GOP establishment. Trump is ideologically unreliable when he is not heretical. Cruz is difficult to work with. Some members of the establishment might feel that a catastrophically failed Presidency would be worse than a lost Presidential election. Jimmy Carter, who appointed Paul Volcker thereby curbing inflation and kept the Iranian hostages alive, was a terrific GOP punching bag for years afterwards. That’s politics.

So to deny Trump the win, the establishment wants to keep Kasich, Cruz and Rubio in play, all to drain support from Trump. In some states that could backfire - if for example Rubio takes 17% in a state with a proportional representation with a 20% minimum that could help Trump more than it hurts him.* And in winner take all states, the math becomes less clear. Still, I suspect for the next couple of weeks, the party bigwigs** will want to keep the existing chess pieces on the board. Whether the donor class is capable of such strategizing is less clear and much more relevant. They can’t even organized a decent ad-bomb against Trump after all.

3 scenarios:

  1. No brokered convention, victory in first ballot.

  2. June ends without a decisive victory for any candidate, but the writing is on the wall.

  3. Genuine uncertainty about the outcome in early to mid July. The convention occurs during July 18–21.

Does Trump even want the Presidency? Who knows? I’m pretty sure he would love to be a kingmaker - that’s what winnahs do. And that means Rubio and Cruz lose. Probably Kasich as well. Romney is no longer a Trump friend. So I opine that Paul Ryan’s odds, currently set at 1%, might actually be higher. 3%? Is there anybody that Trump likes other than Hillary? I don’t think the Donald likes Christie that much, but maybe we should give the porker from New Jersey one half of a percent odds.

adaher has this thread: Possible GOP nominees in case of brokered convention.

Exapno Mapcase weighed in last Fall:

Well I guess it’s not zero. But could the GOP survive a brokered convention? Can they survive Trump? And what the hell does that mean?

Also: Contested convention: Can delegates choose a non-candidate?. A: Yes. In fact they can even change the rules before the convention, though that would be a disaster for the organization.

Also: How will the GOP establishment try to kill the Trump nomination?

  • h/t Lord Feldon
    ** Ha! There are no party bigwigs. There are however a few opinion leaders.

Current predictit odds are 45% for a brokered convention. I don’t know for sure that Trump can’t win on a second ballot. The first ballot will of course be predictable. All delegates vote as pledged. But the second ballot, Trump will still be on it, and if he’s close, he just needs some other delegates to vote for him in the second round. After the second round he’s probably toast if he doesn’t get a majority.

Nice post adaher. That’s a viable scenario.

  1. Trump wins on second ballot.

(Not mutually exclusive with number 2.)

**MfM approved post: **
Ibn discusses Kasich. I add emphasis.

Trump still has the ability to be kingmaker though, as he can threaten a third party bid. Even with sore-loser laws, he can still complicate things greatly for the Republicans. He could even split the party.

** Jan Brewer? Sheriff Arpaio? Paul LePage? **
What he can’t do is build a new third party. Trump is a great sales guy but he’s terrible at execution. Witness his string of failed businesses and failed properties like the Plaza. He would need to attract other leaders -managers who can run and provide a face for the organization. That would be hard.

there’s not gonna be a brokered convention; the GOP would both lose the election and their electorate and they know it; hence why at the debate Thursday, all of them said they’d vote for Trump over Hillary (or abstention). At least if Trump loses, the GOP lives to fight another day.

Heck, even if its brokered, Trump would probably still win in the end; he’ll have both a plurality of delegates and a plurality of popular votes (or potentially majority depending on who is still in during the latter primaries). Probably puts Cruz (or even Rubio) on the ticket to get them to give him their delegates.

It may destroy the party but it still has to be done. You can’t hand the nomination to a guy who got only a third of the popular vote and fell short of a majority of delegates. When that happens the only correct approach is to find someone broadly acceptable to most of the party. Marco Rubio actually has the best approval numbers of any Republican in the race among Republican voters. But given his performance I don’t think he’ll be nominated, although VP is a very good possibility.

You know who everyone in the party seems to like? Paul Ryan. I think that once Ryan’s name gets put in nomination, it’s a done deal. I don’t think the party wants Romney as much as Romney thinks it does, whereas Ryan has already proven that he can gain broad support by actually getting the House to vote him Speaker.

So don’t call this a prediction, since literally anything can happen at a brokered convention, but I think Ryan/Rubio could be the ticket coming out of it.

I’d also note that predictions that the party will tear itself apart can be overstated at times. If the compromise ticket is one that no one is happy with, everyone grumbles and the GOP goes meekly down to defeat. But if it’s a fairly exciting ticket with broad appeal to the party base, which Ryan/Rubio would be, then divisions will heal fairly quickly.

Ah yes, I thought this was familiar, back in December I pointed that we are headed to a Republican brokered convention or a broken one.

With the strength shown by Cruz I do picture a convention that will be either a Brokered or a Broken one that will make the convention of 1992 about “culture wars” to look like child’s play.

Just imagine Pat Buchanan’s clones talking about their values and their support of Trump - or anyone that they manage to pull out of their convention hats -.

Everyone else will know it will be so fake and so many will be part of the support the nominee charade that a new circle of hell for false political witnesses will be open.

GIGO brings up a good point. Since no one candidate will be in charge, the convention will be pretty out of control as far as speaking slots go. A lot’s going to get said that could be damaging.

But I make a point to not fear such things. People should know that the Republican Party has religious and xenophobic nutjobs in it. Just as people should know that the Democrats have people who will boo cardinals, want to remove God from the platform, and want to jettision support for Israel. Remember the last Democratic convention, where they were declaring motions passed on what should have been pretty uncontroversial things, yet there was pretty loud opposition on the floor?

A solid piece of analysis along with implicit conditional predictions, is better than a straight-up prediction. After the convention, we might learn something from this post (and if there’s no brokerage after all, no harm no foul).

Again, nice work. Predictions are fun as a game, but their real value is in what they teach you after events play out.

As pointed in the article, it was a rare thing and it did not last.

I do not think that what we will see in the Republican convention to be bottled up as quickly.

As I understand it, if Trump (or whoever wins a plurality) doesn’t win on the first ballot, he no longer has any pledged delegates, let alone a plurality. This is where the “brokering” comes in.

Though I do agree that a candidate emerging from such a process that won only a small percentage of the vote would be problematic. If I were the Dems I’d claim that “all that the Republicans have left is the guy that everyone rejected in the primaries*, and now they want you to elect him president”.

This is the thing. Of the four characters left standing, any of them would be problematic. Trump is an idiot and a bigot, Cruz is insane and unpopular with the party, and Rubio and Kasich thus far have little popular support. All I can say is, the chickens have come home to roost in the Party of Stupid.

  • Or wasn’t even in them.

Rubio is actually pretty much everyone’s second choice. He is still the most broadly acceptable candidate for party faithful.

But you’re right about the optics of nominating someone who couldn’t win that much popular support in the actual voting, which is why a non-candidate might be the best option, at least at the top of the ticket.

Hmm. As of today, Cruz and Rubio have more delegates than Trump does, right? Would having them on the same ticket solve that optics problem?

The Other Waldo Pepper: They might also look at vote totals. There might be a lot of ways to justify a preferred conclusion.

I wonder if some sort of ranked choice voting system would make Rubio (or another candidate) look more plausible. Even if it were held in only a few states. There will be plenty of uneasiness with the primary system in 2017+, at least among the establishment.

Ok. Say we have the following:

  1. 50% chance of brokered convention

  2. 50% chance of brokered convention and genuine uncertainty. Trump has lost here, according to my assumption. (There could be genuine uncertainty + Trump victory, but I’m carving that out at this stage.)

  3. 50% chance of Ryan being selected under such circumstances.

That gives Ryan 12.5% odds. But 1) is a little high. And Ryan might not hunger for the Presidency, although we know he’d take the VP slot. So cut it in half and round up: 7%. Pretty good for a guy who hasn’t campaigned yet. Heck 5% is fantastic.

You left off the most self-destructive option, that the party changes the rules specifically in order to prevent Trump from winning the first ballot. They’d be idiots to do that, of course, but then, they’ve done plenty of other idiotic things recently.

Kind of an empty critique if we don’t know what the cardinal was actually saying. Maybe it was something stupid.

Separation of church and state. Kind of a neat idea, actually.

Your cite refers to the issue of whether or not Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, not to “jettisoning support of Israel”. Most sources consider Tel Aviv the capital, and most countries conform to the United Nations view that Jerusalem should be a special international protectorate. Where is the US embassy in Israel located?

I think it would be crazy for the GOP to nominate someone who either didn’t run this year, or dropped out early. A party’s nominee needs the legitimacy of having demonstrated broad support. If the GOP nominates their own Hubert Humphrey equivalent, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

If it comes to a contested convention, the party’s pretty much stuck with choosing among those candidates who come out of the primaries with a delegate total that’s at least in the upper three figures.

What if that’s no one but Trump, and Trump himself only won a third of the vote? Your reasoning is sound except for the fact that they could head into the convention with NONE of them having demonstrated broad support.

I just don’t see how you build a successful campaign based on “two thirds of Republicans didn’t like you”. In that situation it might be better to just start with someone new, or at least someone familiar who has demonstrated that he can appeal to most of the party.

problem with this logic that if Trump has a plurality of votes but not majority somehow making him less legitimate is that many primary candidates in both parties win pluralities instead of majorities: see John McCain, Obama (well he lost the pop vote to Hillary), Nixon in 1968 (like Obama also lost the pop vote, got 37% to Reagan’s 38%) and several others.

But they won the delegates. As I said in another thread, if the rules are on your side you argue the rules, if the popular will is on your side you argue the popular will. Trump is on his way to being able to argue neither.

I’m going to stick with what I said last fall, as quoted in the OP. Trump has a clear path to a first ballot majority. Neither Cruz nor Rubio are viable opponents, and that changes only slightly if one of them drops out to back the other, a low probability event.

Whether he wins first ballot or not, the rest of my prediction looks good: the Republican Party is dead. The GOP was a coalition of establishment leaders. That they cannot work collectively to head off a maverick with minority support inside the party, that they can’t find a viable establishment candidate to back, that they are publicly denouncing the leader in delegates and votes inside their party means that there is no national Party. That is in addition to the fact that one Speaker of the House was chased from office for being an establishment politician and that the current one seemingly has no means to control at least 100 members of his caucus. Unprecedented, I believe.

Nothing but a collection of state fiefdoms remain. They can continue to exist for a while, since the Democrats have mostly abdicated their role as a countrywide opposition party. The Republicans pursue elections down to the individual town level, provide support for candidates, and flood the races with money: i.e. they do what parties are supposed to do. So we are in a weird position in which the Democrats can cohere nationally but not locally and the Republicans can cohere locally but not nationally. No wonder gridlock prevails.

I didn’t expect the Republicans to fall apart this quickly. Yet they’ve been setting themselves up for a demagogue and Trump is perfect in the role. There won’t be a brokered convention because the party doesn’t know how to fight its own message - they undoubtedly never thought they would need to. But in hindsight this day has been foretold since the primary defeat of Eric Cantor. Somehow Trump saw this before anyone else. That’s impressive.