Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chaos in Cleveland? Odds of Contested Convention Increase

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chaos in Cleveland? Odds of Contested Convention Increase

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * The chances of a contested Republican national convention just got higher with Donald Trump's loss to Ted Cruz in Wisconsin. Despite his wide lead in the delegate count, Trump isn't scooping up delegates fast enough to ensure he'll win a majority during the primaries and caucuses.

Here's a look at what's known and, more importantly, unknown about how a contested convention might work.

DEFINITION, PLEASE

What's a contested convention? It's when the convention opens without a presumptive nominee because no candidate has locked up commitments from a majority of convention delegates. This year, the magic number for the Republicans is 1,237 one delegate more than half of the 2,472 convention delegates.

TRUMP'S CHALLENGE

Only Trump has a potential path to lock up enough delegates before the convention, and it's an extremely slim one. To claim the nomination by the end of the primaries on June 7, he'd have to win 57 percent of the remaining delegates. So far, he's won just 46 percent. The delegate count so far: Trump, 743; Cruz, 517; John Kasich, 143.

WHY NOW?

The likelihood of a contested convention has increased with the Republican Party's shifting away from a winner-take-all strategy, in recent years, to a more proportional way of allocating delegates. Only nine states are awarding all their GOP delegates to the winner of their primary or caucuses this year. The once-large field of GOP candidates in the 2016 race and Trump's wildcard candidacy also feed into this year's uncertainty.

SIX-WEEK WINDOW

If the primary season ends with no presumptive nominee, there are still six weeks before the convention opens in Cleveland on July 18, during which candidates could try to cobble together a majority. If Trump is close to the magic number, for example, he might be able to scrounge up commitments from delegates in the five states and territories that didn't have statewide presidential preference votes during the primary season.

He may also turn to delegates who backed candidates who have dropped out of the race, said Joshua Putnam, a political science lecturer at the University of Georgia whose frontloading. …

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