A brokered convention is more plausible this year than it has been for a generation, as the fight drags on for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
The scenario leaves many GOP insiders petrified of the damage the party could suffer. Yet some dissenting voices insist there would be a silver lining to the cloud. They hold out the possibility of a convention of such drama and intrigue that it would energize party activists and mesmerize the broader public.
“It could turn into a free-for-all, and be somewhat unseemly, and no-one wants that,” Keith Appell, a Republican strategist who is not aligned with any candidate, said. “But if it is done in a fairly orderly way, it could be a good thing. It would be exciting, and it would be something of a new experience for most people in terms of conventions.”
A brokered convention takes place when no candidate has secured enough delegates over the course of the primary process to clinch the nomination outright. The ultimate decision is then made on the convention floor, with delegates who are not legally bound to a particular candidate being the target of fierce persuasive tactics.
Republicans have not experienced such a scenario since 1976, when incumbent president Gerald Ford narrowly held off a strong challenge from Ronald Reagan.