Lion of the Blogosphere

What happens at a contested Republican convention?

According to Rule 40(e) from the rules of the previous convention:

If no candidate shall have received such majority, the chairman of the convention shall direct the roll of the states be called again and shall repeat the calling of the roll until a candidate shall have received a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the convention.

What’s not known is how much time is allotted between each “roll of the states” to allow nominees time to campaign.

Now let’s consider Rule 40(b):

Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these rules or any rule of the House of Representatives, to demonstrate the support required of this paragraph a certificate evidencing the affirmative written support of the required number of permanently seated delegates from each of the eight (8) or more states shall have been submitted to the secretary of the convention not later than one (1) hour prior to the placing of the names of candidates for nomination pursuant to this rule and the established order of business.

Since it’s likely that only Cruz and Trump will go to the convention having won eight states, then delegates for Rubio and Kasich are unbound and can vote for anyone they want. Cruz might even win on the first round of voting if 100% of the unbound delegates vote for him. He would certainly win on the second round of voting. (See my previous post explaining that a significant percentage Trump’s delegates are not actually Trump supporters, and would in almost all likelihood vote for Cruz in a Trump v. Cruz matchup.)

However, apparently the RNC is allowed to change the candidate eligibility rules before any voting takes place. They would have to do that if they wanted anyone besides Cruz or Trump to compete. (We determined in the previous paragraph that Cruz would win without a rule change, thus the real reason for the rule change would be to stop Cruz and not to stop Trump who already lost.)

Even if they change the rules, remember there are 2,472 delegates, and they each get to make up their own minds as to who they will vote for. A bunch of guys in the legendary “smoke-filled room” can’t decide who the delegates vote for.

How long does a contested convention take? In 1880, James Garfield was finally nominated on the seventh day of the convention, after 36 ballots.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 8, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Politics

19 Responses

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  1. My dream would be Trump wins 3rd party. A big F U to the republitards and the democrats. If he’s not in the race what’s the use in voting and what does it say about America actually being a democracy.

    Lazy Hero

    March 8, 2016 at 3:29 pm

  2. “…apparently the RNC is allowed to change the candidate eligibility rules before any voting takes place. They would have to do that if they wanted anyone besides Cruz or Trump to compete.”

    So unless Trump can somehow use his famous deal making skills, if he doesn’t come in with the required number of delegates, 1,237, to win the nomination, then GOPe will just alter the rules to game the system so someone else will win.

    Mike Street Station

    March 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm

  3. The GOP establishment hates Trump, of course, but they aren’t exactly in love with Cruz either. I wonder if they could pick somebody else?

    Black Death

    March 8, 2016 at 5:07 pm

  4. Your posts have now scared me to death and I covered my 800 share “No Cruz” position and went long 250 shares of Cruz. I am still long 800 Trump shares.

    I think Trump gets over the majority with the big blue winner take all states (CA, OH, IL, NY) but I am a lot less sure than before.

    For ID, I agree Cruz will likely win, but Trump current pays 3-1 so I went long Trump.


    March 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

  5. I clicked on the link. In 1880, the runner up in delegates, Blaine, combined with a favorite son candidate from Ohio, Sherman, behind an acceptable third candidate who hadn’t been in the race, to deny an unprecedented third nomination and probable third term to Grant. However, in 1880 Blaine was considered to be the reform candidate and the “stalwarts” were behind Grant.


    March 8, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    • James Blaine was a cool guy, and he wrote an excellent history book about his time in Congress. He’s one of the most important politicians from the 19th century who no one has heard of (perhaps only behind Henry Clay).

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 8, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      • Blaine was known by his followers as “The Plumed Knight,” which has a stirring effect on the 19th-century ear but just sounds sort of ridiculous today.

        Garfield, of course, was assassinated, which sets an ominous precedent.


        March 8, 2016 at 8:31 pm

  6. Can Cruz give Trump his delegates in exchange for the VP nod or Scalia’s seat?

    The Undiscovered Jew

    March 8, 2016 at 5:53 pm

  7. It would look bad if Trump clearly had the most votes going into the convention, but lost the nomination because of party elites. Cruz would need momentum among the hoi polloi.


    March 8, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    • “It would look bad if Trump clearly had the most votes going into the convention, but lost the nomination because of party elites. Cruz would need momentum among the hoi polloi.”

      At this point I see no way anyone but Hillary wins the election. GOP can nominate Trump, have the GOPe sit out the election, and he loses. Or they steal the nomination from Trump and he tells his supporters to stay home.

      I think the most likely outcome is still Trump wins the nomination, just barely, 1/4 of the GOPe supports him as normal like with Romney McCain, half does the bare minimum and nominally supports him but spends no money, etc, and 1/4 actively opposes him, votes 3rd party, endorses Hillary, etc.

      To the extent Trump loses, it will likely be Cruz, who will go down worse than Dole did in ’96.

      There just isn’t any scenerio where the GOP comes out with a nominee as good as Romney, who of course lost but did a respectable job.

      I love Trump but in the end he decided to be a cheap-ass and garner media and support by saying stupid and inflammatory things rather than do like Perot and actually spend substantial person funds. Now the GOPe has declared unconditional war. Maybe he can still win the nomination, but no Republican is going to be president.


      March 8, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      • Romney was a shitty nominee. He did a terrible job. He didn’t fight hard, and didn’t attack Obama on obvious vulnerabilities.


        March 10, 2016 at 3:25 pm

  8. Notice that 40(b) says a majority of the delegates for 8 states. Not that you won 8 states or got a plurality in 8 states. A Majority of the delegates. Cruz has won 6 states but only has a majority of delegates in Texas, Maine, and Kansas. Rubio has won 2 and has a majority in Puerto Rico (However it is interesting that it says a majority of delegates in 8 STATES. Does Puerto Rico even count? It’s not a state). Trump has won 12 states and has a majority of delegates in SC, Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia, & Tennessee. So he is over half way there. It is possible that Trump will be the only one to win a majority of delegates from 8 states even if he does not win an outright majority of all delegates. Then it will be interesting to see if they change the rule.


    March 8, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    • They would have to change the rules at that point to stop Trump. I am sure they will do it.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      • Except that it is highly improbable that rule 40(b) has anything to do with the results of the primary and caucus process. The delegates are bound for the first vote, after which (if no majority) the floor would be opened for nominations. Prospective nominees would have to have gathered the support of a majority of the assembled delegates from 8 States to be eligible to be nominated. Then they vote again. If no majority, rinse and repeat. No rules would need to be changed.

        (Caveat: I’ve not studied the Convention rules at all, I base this on my understanding of parliamentary rules generally )


        March 8, 2016 at 7:32 pm

  9. We are really in uncharted waters if no one gets a majority on the first ballot. There hasn’t been a GOP convention that has gone more than one ballot since 1952 because the Republicans have decided that these things should be dainty affairs culminating in a coronation of whoever’s “turn” it is. This explains putzes like McCain and Romney, and even Dubya (who history will regard far higher than he is now) who won only because Gore and Kerry were even bigger putzes.

    Since the outcomes of these events (full disclosure: I have been a delegate or alternate to three GOP conventions myself) are pretty much guaranteed before they begin, that is reflected in the kinds of people who get to become delegates in the first place. The 1880 convention to which you refer was a meeting of a relatively new party, and its participants were (for one thing) all male and the party bosses of their local fiefdoms, so the convention was a deliberative body which could indeed go for 36 ballots before cutting a deal.

    In contrast, when the outcome is preordained, the whole thing becomes a big party, like a trip to Disney World, and delegate positions are awarded to innocuous, often politically naïve individuals who have simply knocked on a lot of doors, made a lot of phone calls, and addressed a lot of envelopes: people like 70-year old Mrs. Ida Mae Folderol of Duck Flat, NE, rewarded for her 45+ years of service to the party.

    Now I have known a lot of Ida Mae Folderols over the years, and they are for the most part, very sweet and sincere ladies for whom attending a national convention (at her own very considerable expense, and making a big dent in her budget, since all too many of us Republicans are not exactly rich), is the greatest experience of their political lives. However, I question their capability to make judgments affecting our national future, which they would have to make on subsequent ballots after which they are unbound.

    This promises to be real interesting.


    March 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    • Can you tell us more about this? Do you think that Ida Mae will vote for Trump, Cruz, Kasich, Rubio or Romney?

      Also, now that everyone suddenly realizes that delegates might actually be voting for real, will they change who gets appointed?

      What happens if it take more than four days?

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      • The GOP rules provide for base allocation of delegates paralleling that of the electoral college: three for each congressional district, six at-large for each state, with bonus delegates awarded for such as carrying the state at the last presidential election, GOP governor, GOP senators, majority of House delegation, majority in state legislature, etc. This distorts the process because it allocates a heavily GOP district in Kansas the same representation as a district in the south Bronx.

        The delegates themselves are chosen by different methods, including direct primary (in NJ for example), and district and state party conventions. In states with only a preference primary (Oregon for example), the delegates chosen must reflect the election outcome in each district. It’s very possible that many of the delegates have already been chosen, especially since the convention is being held earlier this year, in July.

        As for Ida Mae, most of the ones I’ve known have been motivated by pro-life concerns, so I think that will weigh heavily in their decisions. Apart from that, your guess is as good as mine.

        And if the convention lasts longer than four days, all hell will break loose. I would imagine that the Cleveland venue is already booked for events after those four days, and it will be interesting to see what happens if they need to stay in session. Also, no doubt many delegates have jobs, family, and other responsibilities to attend to, and are limited in what they can afford (I can tell you that if I didn’t have family or friends to stay with during the ones I went to I couldn’t have afforded it either), unlike the Democrats, who live and breathe politics and for whom earning a living is secondary (like Bernie, for example).


        March 9, 2016 at 5:30 pm

  10. Do delegates get to do whatever they want in the send round? Or do they have to do what their candidate wants? So, for example, would Carson and Christie get to assign their delegates to Trump?


    March 9, 2016 at 12:51 am

    • They do whatever they want the entire convention. There is only ONE thing they are required to do for their candidate: in the first round of balloting, if the candidate they are bound to is running, they have to vote for their bound candidate. Otherwise they do whatever they want. Carson and Christie can’t even assign their delegates in the first round of balloting.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 9, 2016 at 9:17 am

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