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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    The Possibility of a Brokered Convention

    By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
    Posted on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 08:04:12 AM EST
    Tags: Republican National Committee, Campaign For Liberty, Presidential Primaries, Newt Gingrich (Virginia), Ron Paul (Texas), Mitt Romney (Massachusetts), Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania), primary process, brokered convention, sixteen times before, questionable inevitability (all tags)

    Last week, I received a fairly interesting e-mail from Matt Kibbe over at FreedomWorks.  The subject line ("BROKERED CONVENTION:  Who Would You Support?") I'll admit was an attention getter.

    According to the letter:

    "As the Presidential race heats up, the GOP Establishment is trying to control the process and tell you that this race is all over with only few states and a miniscule number of delegates already decided.  That is simply not true.  It is still very likely that no candidate receives a majority of the delegates heading into the Republican National Convention.  If this happens and you were a delegate to the convention, you would have the opportunity to support ANYONE, whether they are currently in the race or not."

    On that note, let's grab a cup of coffee and go below the fold, shall we, because this could get fairly interesting.

    Back on August 6th, 2010, the RNC adopted a revision to Rule 15b with regard to the timing of the presidential primary elections for 2012 and onward.  A key element of the new primary schedule is that any contest held before April 1st is not supposed to be winner-take-all.  Whether proportionately or by congressional district, in the states and territories that vote before April Fool's Day, any candidate who does well is supposed to come away with some delegates that (by the rules) should be committed to him at the Republican National Convention.  2,286 voting delegates are available this year, so a candidate must accumulate 1,144 votes to win the nomination.

    With Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, and Maine now on the record in the republican presidential primary sweepstakes, the accumulated "soft total" count of elected delegates is projected thus (according to The Green Papers):

    • Mitt Romney:  105 delegates (6 IA + 7 NH + 2 SC + 50 FL + 14 NV + 6 MN + 12 CO + 8 ME) plus 18 RNC party delegates
    • Rick Santorum:  43 delegates (6 IA + 3 NV + 17 MN + 13 CO + 4 ME) plus 1 RNC party delegate
    • Newt Gingrich:  42 delegates (4 IA + 23 SC + 6 NV + 4 MN + 4 CO + 1 ME) plus 3 RNC party delegates
    • Ron Paul:  36 delegates (6 IA + 3 NH + 5 NV + 10 MN + 4 CO + 8 ME) plus 1 RNC party delegate
    • Uncommitted (available):  3 IA (formerly committed to Rick Perry) and 2 NH (formerly committed to Jon Huntsman)

    Now, I'll freely admit that there are other places out there (such as RealClearPolitics and Wikipedia, among others) that use different metrics for determining who stands where in the primary campaign - Wikipedia, notably, includes the RNC "party delegates" (aka "superdelegates") who aren't bound by anything other than their own personal choice - but really, any tracking site that does a reasonably faithful job of sticking to the state-by-state rules is going to be reliable enough for conversation purposes; just know what's being used for source information.

    The RNC's intention behind the change to the delegate awarding rules is that the republican nominee wouldn't be awarded until late in the contest, certainly not before April 3rd (the first authorized winner-take-all contests, in Maryland, District of Columbia, Wisconsin, and Texas).  On paper the concept seems very sound, as this means that the politically savvy members of the republican primary electorate will have plenty of time to weed through the field and theoretically select the best candidate to hand BHO his pink slip come this November.

    Of course, the media elites note the fact that WMR has somewhere between 120 and 123 projected pledged delegates out of the 1,144 that he needs to secure the nomination (~10.58%), note that he has this number as 8 of the 56 contests in the primary campaign are complete (~14.29%), and are thus trumpeting the inevitability that Romney will arrive at convention with the nomination firmly in hand, even if that won't be locked up until the Utah Primary (June 26) is in the books.

    The reality, of course, is a tad messier.

    See, the word "projected" isn't there for show.  According to the RNC rules, with the exception of four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada), no state is supposed to be allowed to hold a binding contest before March 1st without being penalized 50% of their delegation.  (That New Hampshire and South Carolina are being penalized is due to them violating the RNC's rule that no state is supposed to hold a binding contest before February 1st.)  This means that Rick Santorum, for all the media fuss otherwise, has yet to win a state where the results were actually binding, including Missouri!

    So, if we strip out all the non-binding states, and add back in the "party delegates" who've already publicly committed, then our "secured delegates" running total would look like this (using the Green Papers' numbers again):

    • Mitt Romney:  91 delegates (18 RNC + 7 NH + 2 SC + 50 FL + 14 NV)
    • Newt Gingrich:  32 delegates (3 RNC + 23 SC + 6 NV)
    • Ron Paul:  9 delegates (1 RNC + 3 NH + 5 NV)
    • Rick Santorum:  4 delegates (1 RNC + 3 NV)

    All of a sudden, Senator Santorum isn't looking as formidable as his press releases would have us believe.  And Michigan, where he seems to be doing well (though his alleged lead over Romney is questionable), is a hybrid primary.  Michigan awards two delegates per congressional district on a district-by-district basis, plus two at-large delegates on a proportional basis, to any candidate who gets at least 15% of the statewide popular vote.  (And exactly how that goat rodeo will work is going to require a whole separate blog post.)  This means that, no matter who actually dominates Michigan's Republican Presidential Primary, the odds are high that all four candidates are walking away with at least one delegate.

    Newt Gingrich's appeal of the Florida results may also be a factor here.  According to a Gingrich campaign memo, NLG intends to challenge the results based on the Republican National Committee's rules that state that no contest can be winner-take-all prior to April 1, 2012, and will request that the RNC enforce the proportional awarding of the RPFL delegates.  And if the RNC does enforce its rules, then the projected proportional awarding of the Florida delegation would look like this:

    • Mitt Romney:  23 Florida delegates (which reduces his hard total to 64 delegates)
    • Newt Gingrich:  16 Florida delegates (which increases his hard total to 48 delegates)
    • Rick Santorum:  7 Florida delegates (which increases his hard total to 11 delegates)
    • Ron Paul:  4 Florida delegates (which increases his hard total to 13 delegates)

    . . . which will still leave RJS sitting in fourth place, but has the advantage of taking yet more steam out of Romney Coronation Train.

    Maine's municipal straw poll caucus is also an open question right now, even though that fact isn't getting much press coverage.  While the Maine Republican Party encouraged all of the municipal committees to conduct their polling between February 4th and 11th, each local committee was free to choose any date it wished.  And while the state party has already officially reported the results, the truth is that 98 precincts in Maine (fully one-sixth of the state, if I have the numbers right) have yet to report.  According to the Ron Paul campaign, many of those precincts are areas which are expected to heavily favor Dr. Paul, and given the closeness of the reported statewide vote totals, Maine may turn out to be a state that REP actually wins when all of the precincts are counted.

    That brings up another point.  The Campaign for Liberty has been training their ground crews to pick up the delegate slots that are available in the precincts after caucus events.  The intention is to pick up enough delegates in those states that they can control the RNC's platform going forward into the general campaign.  In nonbinding states (IA, MN, CO, and ME, among others), they also seem intent on packing as many pro-Paul delegates as possible into the national delegation.

    Here's a reason why that might matter.  Consider the binding requirements on the states whose primaries occur before Super Tuesday (March 6th this year):

    • Iowa's delegates are entirely uncommitted at the National Convention
    • New Hampshire's delegates are bound for so long as the candidate to which they are bound remains in the contest
    • South Carolina's delegates are bound through the second ballot, unless the candidate to which the delegates are bound falls below 30% of the vote on the first ballot.
    • Florida's delegates are bound through the 3rd ballot at National Convention unless the candidate withdraws or releases his/her delegates.
    • Nevada's delegates are bound through the 1st ballot at the National Convention
    • Minnesota's delegates are not bound (unless state party votes to bind for 1st ballot at the National Convention)
    • Colorado's delegates are entirely uncommitted at the National Convention
    • Maine's delegates are entirely uncommitted at the National Convention
    • Michigan's delegates are bound through the 1st ballot at the National Convention
    • Arizona's delegates are bound by "best effort" (whatever that means) through the 1st ballot at the National Convention
    • Washington State's delegates are bound through the 1st ballot at the National Convention

    Having read through the notecard version of the rules for all 56 primary contests, I find that the pattern in those eleven contests generally holds true for the rest of them:

    • Eleven states (including NH) bind their delegations "until released" (though exactly how the delegation is considered released varies by state)
    • Only two states (FL and TX) bind their delegations through the 3rd ballot at national convention
    • Seven states (including SC) bind their delegations through the 2nd ballot at national convention
    • Twenty-one states and territories (including NV, MI, AZ, and WA) bind their delegations only through the 1st ballot at national convention
    • Fifteen states and territories (including IA, MN, CO, and ME) send their delegations to national convention effectively unbound and uncommitted

    In other words, if none of the current contenders has locked in the necessary majority going into Tampa, then the convention becomes an effective free-for-all as soon as the first ballot is in the books.  (I'm told that C4L intends to see to it that those fifteen states and territories that do not bind their delegations will figure into forcing a brokered convention.)  Once the floor takes control of the convention, "anything goes" isn't a stretch in describing what happens.

    Which is where the e-mail that I received last week comes in.

    There's a link in the e-mail to an interesting preference survey that features hypothetical match-ups of potential nominees, not all of whom are currently candidates in the primary race.  The final question, predictably, asks who you would vote for (of the four current primary candidates) if the election were held today.  Some interesting names are up there, and as of this post, the five most popular are:  Paul Ryan (72%), Marco Rubio (67%), Jim DeMint (64%), Rick Santorum (63%), and Mitch Daniels (52%).  Although the first two positions haven't changed in the five days since I first saw this list, I recall that Gingrich was in third place a week ago.

    Other than putting forward the point, that at a brokered convention the delegates may have opportunity to voice their disgust with the current primary ballot by nominating anyone they choose from the floor, the preference survey seems about as useful as an opinion poll that I might decide to stick over on the right sidebar.  In other words, in and of itself, not that big of a deal.

    But the core point, that a brokered convention has the potential to get really messy, should not be ignored.  Count on lawyers from all four campaigns to be present, prepared to challenge anything that puts their candidate at a disadvantage (which will have all kinds of "Florida can't seem to get elections right" jokes floating around).  Expect all manner of arm-twisting and backroom deals, especially as it might apply to delegates who are unbound on the first ballot at convention.

    All of this will be in an effort to get the nomination settled on the first ballot.  Perhaps this is because the Republican Party has a history of choosing its presidential nominee on the first ballot (only 10 of the 39 republican national conventions held to date have gone past the first ballot, and none of those, even at brokered conventions, have occurred since 1948), so the party officers may want to avoid the appearance of disunity.  But I rather suspect that's because the Rockefeller-wing establishment is deathly afraid that if Romney can't win on the first pass, then he won't win at all.

    So, how does this apply to us?

    First, let's make sure we understand what a "brokered convention" is in this context.  Simply put, it's a convention where none of the official candidates arrive at convention with a committed majority of the available delegates.

    Second, we need to keep in mind that a brokered convention is not necessarily anything to fear.  Those who don't have a proper understanding of history or those who don't want political power anywhere other than in their own hands would love to persuade us otherwise.  The reality, however, is that a brokered convention provides conservatives with their best shot at doing precisely what the liberals and moderates in the party hierarchy don't want to do, namely building the necessary intraparty consensus needed to defeat the machine-style politics of the communist currently occupying the White House.  The trick, of course, is to have a sufficiently coordinated strategy going in.

    As an example, let's take a look at the results of five brokered conventions in republican history:

    • The Chicago Convention of 1860 provided us with President Lincoln
    • The Chicago Convention of 1920 provided us with President Harding . . . which ultimately provided us with President Coolidge
    • The Chicago Convention of 1952 provided us with President Eisenhower, who, due to the influence of Senator Taft and Vice President Nixon, became far more conservative after the convention than he was before it
    • The Miami Beach Convention of 1968 provided us with President Nixon . . . which seemed like a good idea at the time given that the leading alternative was Nelson Rockefeller (and at least Nixon could get both major factions of the party to cooperate with each other)
    • The Kansas City Convention of 1976 almost provided us with Ronald Reagan (but for the last-minute treachery of Clarke Reed, then-chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, we would have had him then, instead of after four years of Carter)

    The third and final thing we need to keep in mind is that this cycle's primary process doesn't end for us once the Michigan primary is in the books.  If we're smart and engaged, then we make a list of all of our personal, professional, and political contacts in states that are still to come on the schedule.  And then we contact them, regularly, and encourage them to get informed and get involved.  If we've made a choice in the primary (which on this site implies that we know why we've made that choice and can defend it) and our some of our contacts haven't, then feel free to attempt to persuade them to our viewpoint.

    If June 27th finds us with a brokered convention on the schedule (which will make it the 17th in party history), then so be it.  On that day, only the weak and the tyrants will have anything to fear.

    < Unions At Work | Meet Rick Santorum in Macomb County Friday! >

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    When you think about the way Senators were chosen (none / 0) (#1)
    by Bruce on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 09:04:46 AM EST
    before the 17th amendment, it was political professionals selecting the senators to represent the states.

    The results were probably not always that different from those of popular votes, but the popular distrust of politicians and the notion that popular voting would be more democratic than representative voting led to the change.

    Not sure how well a brokered convention would be received in the press.  Possibly well received... as grist for why "the Republican part was the party of elites."  You know, "Obama is the man of the people," but "Republicans are cronies of the rich."

    Well isn't this just an interesting development: (none / 0) (#4)
    by Kevin Rex Heine on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 11:33:31 AM EST
    It would seem that we have what's now being referred to as Iowa 2.0 . . . coming to us from Maine (courtesy of Ben Swann of FOX 19 in Cincinnati).

    So yeah, if you take a look at this list here, then based on what we just heard we can safely assume that any municipality outside of Washington County and Hancock County (though Aroostook County seems to have reported its totals as a countywide aggregate) that has a straight goose-egg vote tally probably reported a result inconsistent with the narrative that Maine GOP wanted to tell the voting public.  And for the sake of the integrity of the final total, I'm hoping that the chairs of those caucuses had the same foresight that Matt McDonald had and kept copies of the votes that they reported to state party headquarters.  We'll likely never know the real truth in Iowa (because if my memory serves me correctly, several precincts never provided audited and verified vote totals), and I'd hate to see that happen twice on the national stage.

    It's not that I actually watch Rachel Maddow, nor that I necessarily think she has any special insight here.  But as it seems that she was the only one other than Ben Swann to make a story out of this, I think this is worth the 16-1/2 minutes:

    I'm inclined to believe that Maddow (and the rest of the MSNBC journ-o-list crew) are all over this not for any altruistic motivation, but more likely because they believe that the more they make the Republican Party look like fools, the easier it will be for them to grease the skids for an Obama reelection.  What I find annoying is that the Rockefeller-bluebloods in the party's elite seem to be doing their damnedest to make their job easy.  Heaven forbid that Mittens the Heir-Apparent ride into his native state on a 4-game losing streak and try to win a primary in which the only real contest at present seems to be over who's going to finish in third.  Given how terribly it seems that he's going to do on Super Tuesday, why, the only republican candidate who can look like Obama may be forced to drop out before we actually get to the winner-take-all states.

    It would seem that all of the pressure (internally and externally) has effectively shamed the Maine Republican Party into conducting a recount concurrent with the remaining caucus events that will be happening today.  Once again, we go to Ben Swann:

    I don't know if the map that I embedded at the top of the original article will auto-update (ditto for the map that I'll embed below), so you may want to keep an eye on these links to the state-by-state aggregate map, the nationwide county-by-county map, and the Maine breakdown by county map.  It's going to get real interesting in Michigan, Arizona, and Washington State (not to mention the Super Tuesday states) if, come tomorrow morning, we have learned that Romney has lost yet another state that was originally reported as him having won.  I suspect that will put a major dent in the coronation narrative.

    • Interesting... by Corinthian Scales, 02/18/2012 01:10:23 PM EST (none / 0)
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