Is the GOP headed for a brokered convention?

As you all know today Republicans and Democrats in Iowa will caucus and throw their support behind the candidate of their choice. The nomination season is finally upon us.

I’ve been thinking and talking with people about who might win the two Party’s nomination. The Democratic race has always been a three person race and I think in the end my friends on the other side will nominate Barack Obama.

The Republican race however is very much up in the air. Rudy Giuliani appeared to be the front runner for some time, then Fred Thompson joined the race and threatened for a while, McCain was popular, unpopular now appears to be popular again. Huckabee climbed out of the second tier and became a factor and Romney’s warchest and relatively error free campaign make him a factor as well. In short, there is no front runner and I think the GOP might be headed into the National Convention later this year without a nominee.

Based on what I’ve found, a GOP candidate needs to secure 1,259 out of 2,516 delegate votes to secure the nomination. Some States’ primaries are winner take all, others are proportional and still others hold caucus and elect delegates by either county or state conventions.

Distributing delegates based on the most recent Real Clear Politics averages we see that through Super Tuesday the candidates claim the following delegates:

Giuliani 223
Huckabee 74
Romney 60.9
McCain 47
Thompson 42.9
Paul 6.3
Hunter 0

There remain 516 delegates voting on Super Tuesday for which I couldn’t readily find polling data. There are a few things we can safely assume such as McCain takes Arizona (winner take all), Huckabee wins Arkansas (winner take all by Cong. district), and we’ll give Romney half of Mass. (proportional primary). Distributing those 108.5 delegates we end up with this:

Giuliani 223
Huckabee 108
McCain 100
Romney 72.4
Thompson 42.9
Paul 6.3
Hunter 0

I don’t see Giuliani doing well in many of the other Super Tuesday states which means other candidates gain on him. Thompson and Huckabee will fight over the other southern states while McCain and Romney need to keep pace to stay in the race.

As you can see, no clear front runner emerges after February 5, when the bulk of the delegates will be alloted. A good ‘ole fashion brokered convention is very likely, which would make interesting television but could cause a bloodbath within the GOP if we’re not careful.

Real Clear Politics
New York Times
My spreadsheet used to distribute delegates.


  1. StevePerkins says:

    This is the political blog equilvalent of a Penthouse Forum letter (do they still publish those? I haven’t been through my Dad’s sock drawer in a couple decades…). Much like being invited to judge an oral sex contest, brokered political conventions are entertaining to think about but not likely to occur in reality.

    Half of the politically active posters on THIS BLOG barely know anything about the candidate they support or despise. John Q. Apathy knows even less than that. The #1 criteria that people tend to look for in a candidate is whether they’re in the lead. People want to vote for the ultimate winner, and are eager to jump on the same bandwagon as their neighbors whether they know what it’s about or not (check the dictionary under “Thompson, Fred”).

    There are seven states holding primaries or caucuses prior to Super Tuesday. Unless there is a near perfect split, SOME candidate will have won a majority of those contests. At that point, one of two things will happen: either the Super Tuesday candidates will ratify the front-runner, or they’ll vote for Rudy like they were planning to do all along anyway. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I don’t think we’ll ever again see a Presidential primary that’s still an open question beyond Super Tuesday.

  2. I don’t disagree with you Steve but adjusting my numbers to be pre-Super Tue. you pretty much just take away most of Rudy’s numbers (which mostly come from NY, FL and CA on Super Tue.) and you still don’t have a clear front runner pre-Super Tue.

    It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.

  3. Icarus says:

    I’m so confused right now.

    GOPeach is fantasizing about Buzz changing for gym class. Now Steve is reading Buzz’s posts and fondly remembering letters to Bob Guccione.

    Buzz, you’ve got the mojo in overdrive.

  4. drjay says:

    i’m going to show my ignorance a little here…does the gop have all the “superdelegates that can do whatever they want the way the dems do (elected officials, party officials, etc…) if we do then an open convention would be even more unlikely than it is now…also as the thompsons (he will drop out if he does super poor tonite) hunters drop out they will likely shuttle any delegates they have toward the front runner as well…

  5. Dave says:

    We will have a clear winner by the end of the night on Super Tuesday. I don’t see a real chance to have a contentious, brokered convention.

  6. Brian Laurens says:

    It really depends on tonight.

    If Huckabee wins, and then McCain takes NH it is highly possible. That would put SC in a near deadheat between the two. Rudy would also have a tough fight in FL.

    If Romney wins, he takes NH and eliminates McCain, Michigan and Nevada would also go for him putting momentum going into SC extremely high. Romney would bounce right into FL and Feb as the nominee.

    I would love to have a real convention that mattered, while it’s possible, it isn’t probable.

  7. rugby_fan says:

    I think the GOP Convention will be brokered.

    Icarus I’ve often said Buzz is on the rise. Soon enough he will have his own blog, maybe he’ll even blog on the front page.

    A smart man would invest a lot of money in Buzz 2.0 manufacturing.

  8. Bull Moose says:

    If Thompson comes in 4th I think he drops out and endorses McCain. 3rd place tonight in Iowa would be a huge win for McCain. He would then win NH despite Mitt Phony’s negative ads. This would lead to a likely battle with Huckabee in SC before heading back up to Michigan and down to FL. That’s a long time for Rudy to not be in play.

    If Rudy loses FL I think he drops out and also endorses McCain.

    I could see a McCain/Huckabee or McCain/Guiliani ticket w/ Fred Thompson starring as Attorney General.

    What I would love to see is him go bipartisan in a serious way and appoint Sam Nunn as Secretary of Defense and Joe Biden as Secretary of State.

    Did I leap that far into the future? WOW! My optimism knows no boundaries!

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