5 facts about brokered presidential conventions: Could we have one in 2016?

International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union supporters hold signs during a Humphrey rally in 1968.

Political junkies and journalists every four years hope that there is a brokered presidential convention for one of the major parties.

With Republicans having a crowded field of more than 10 candidates, some think that this year that could happen. However, once voters start weighing in in early February in Iowa and New Hampshire, candidates will drop out and the race will take shape. The likelihood of a brokered convention is still a long shot.

Back in December, we reported that Republican leaders are preparing for a brokered convention in Cleveland this July. We won’t hold our breath.

Here’s a look at 5 facts about brokered conventions as we head into the 2016 election season:

It takes nine days and 103 ballots in New York for the Democrats to settle on a nominee (John W. Davis of West Virginia, a former member of Congress and former ambassador to Great Britain), making it the longest continuously running political convention in U.S. history. Bettmann/Corbis

It takes nine days and 103 ballots in New York for the Democrats to settle on a nominee (John W. Davis of West Virginia, a former member of Congress and former ambassador to Great Britain), making it the longest continuously running political convention in U.S. history.
Bettmann/Corbis

1. The longest nominating convention in U.S. history was in 1924. It took Democrats 103 rounds of voting and it took two weeks. The party ended up nominating Congressman and UK Ambassador John Davis who went on to lose in a landslide to Republican Calvin Coolidge.

2. 1952 was the last time there was a brokered convention in the U.S. If no candidate gets 51 percent of the delegates on the first ballot, then there’s another round of voting and that continues until someone gets 51 percent. In 1952 Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver won 12 of 13 primaries held at the time. Kefauver had the most votes from the voters, but not enough to win the nomination on the first ballot. Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson was encouraged to get in the race after the first round of voting at the convention and ended up winning the nomination on the third ballot. Since he had support from party leaders and the backing of President Harry Truman he was able to win the nomination without winning a single primary. Stevenson lost the general election to Dwight Eisenhower.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union supporters hold signs during a Humphrey rally in 1968.

International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union supporters hold signs during a Humphrey rally in 1968.

3. Party changes in the 1960s changed everything. After Vice President Hubert Humphry won the 1968 Democratic nomination, despite the fact that Sens. Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy won most of the primaries, Democrats changed the system. Some argue that if Kennedy had not been assassinated that June, the convention may have been brokered. Starting in 1972, delegates chosen in primary election by voters were binded to the delegates. This gave more power to the voters and less to party leaders. This change made the possibility of brokered conventions much less likely.

4. The last time Republicans were headed toward a brokered convention was in 1976 when Ronald Reagan challenged President Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination. After the first round of voting, Ford squeaked by with 52.5 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Reagan.

5. The last winning U.S. presidential nominee produced by a brokered convention was Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Roosevelt had a majority of delegates going into the convention, but not the two-thirds required at the time. He finally won on the fourth ballot, defeating former New York Gov. Al Smith and House Speaker John Nance Garner from Texas.

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