There seems to be a growing number of people who are dissatisfied with the GOP slate of candidates. As a result there have been whisperings about a brokered convention and a compromise (savior) candidate. On the surface a brokered convention seems like it would be exciting……however there are two reasons to believe that it wouldn’t be:
- There will most likely be a clear front runner before the convention.
- There is no one else.
First: In opposition to recent history Republicans seem unwilling to rally behind the front runner and quickly wrap up the nomination process. Three candidates have won at least one state and the candidate in second place (according to delegates) has not won a single state! This muddled state of affairs is why some people are talking about a brokered convention. Despite this there are a few things that are clear. Mitt Romney has been the consistent front runner who has beaten back several challengers. First it was Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich. Now he faces Rick Santorum. Romney is a talented politician; he is also well funded and well organized. Even if Romney doesn’t completely vanquish Santorum and secure a majority of delegates, he will likely still head into the convention as the clear delegate leader.
Second: Those who are wishing for a brokered convention are secretly (or not so secretly) hoping that a new candidate will emerge. Common names that get thrown around are: Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels. It is possible that one of these men could swoop into the convention and snatch up the nomination, but that is unlikely. It is unlikely because -with the exception of Daniels- they don’t want to run, at least not yet. Jeb Bush, Christie and Daniels are very popular within the Republican Party and they could have won the nomination if they ran. But, they chose not to run. Why? Because they did not think that they could win in November against President Obama, and they did not want to hurt their chances for a future run. The exception is Daniels. He said he could win and wanted to run. However, Daniels said that he would not run because his family asked him not to. So if Christie, Bush and possibly others were hedging their bets against running this year it would seem unlikely that they would pursue the nomination even if there is a brokered convention. It is a good thing too. In this day and age I don’t think that voters would respond positively to having their votes thrown out in favor of some one who didn’t even bother to run.
What will most likely happen: Romney will go to the convention with a clear delegate lead, but not a majority. At the convention the delegates will vote for their favored candidates and no one will be nominated on the first ballot. After that Romney will make a deal with one of the others (most likely Ron Paul) and will quickly secure the necessary delegates to claim a majority and the nomination. In fact this deal may even be negotiated before the convention. So there it is, no great convention battle, no savior candidate, just cold blooded politics.
Brokered conventions were common in the 19th century, however there has not been a seriously contested convention in over a generation. Politics have changed quite a bit since then, and so have convention rules. They have been made more open and more public, and therefore more difficult to broker. This will make it easier for the leading candidate to secure the nomination and avoid drama by striking a deal with one of his competitors.