A Contested Republican National Convention: How It Would Work

A "brokered" convention is unlikely but here's how it would work.

— -- Talk of a potential contested convention began swirling among top GOP officials before primary season even began.

And now, with crucial March 15 contests in the rear-view mirror and multiple GOP candidates still remaining in the race, a contested convention is looking increasingly likely.

Donald Trump, who has now won more than half the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination, must increase his share of delegates from here to win the nomination outright. One crucial, winner-take-all contest in Arizona next week and important winner-take-most states like New York and California will be crucial in deciding whether Trump is sailing toward the nomination outright or whether a contested convention is coming.

Here’s what you need to know about how a contested convention could work:

What Is a Contested Convention?

In most election years, one presidential candidate wins enough delegates during the primary-caucuses process in order for the presumptive nominee to earn a majority of the delegates before the convention begins. In a contested convention, however, no presumptive nominee exists because no candidate garners a majority of the delegates on the first ballot. So even though a convention is often just a perfunctory meeting for top party officials used to rally around the flag into the general election, a contested convention means the meetings actually make a pivotal difference for who the nominee will be.

Could a Contested Convention Happen This Year for Republicans?

Isn’t It Also Called a Brokered Convention?

Sometimes a contested convention is called a “brokered convention,” under the presumption that powerbrokers will negotiate backroom deals in order to determine the ultimate nominee. The terms are essentially interchangeable, but “contested convention” is more precise because the situation may resolve itself more organically.

What Are the Rules Going to Be?

Convention delegates will vote over and over again until one candidate hits the magic number of 1,237 delegates. Most state parties have their own rules for their own delegates about how many times they are required to vote for the candidate to which they are bound. But by the third ballot, nearly all delegates will be free to vote however they choose. Other national rules will be set by a panel of 112 party officials – two from each state and territory – who will have the power to change the rules just days before the convention, potentially making or breaking the presidential aspirations of candidates who fell short.

But What About the Eight-State Rule?

So What Does It Mean for the Campaigns Now?

When Is the Last Time This Happened?