How brokered conventions work in 4 pictures

A contested and brokered convention might shape this year's election


SAN ANTONIO – It’s no secret that Donald Trump is doing better than everyone expected in the contest for president of the U.S.

He’s proving all the pundits wrong, even the one who told KSAT that Trump will not be the one getting the GOP nomination for president.

The unexpected twists and turns in the race -- and in the Republican Party overall -- have made for interesting headlines nearly every day. In the most recent Republican debate featuring Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Trump even defended the size of his hands.

Trump’s successes have raised many questions: Will voters keep putting Trump on top? How would he do against the Democratic nominee for president? What if Trump wins a majority of all the primaries but doesn’t quite capture all the needed delegates that are required by a Republican candidate?

That third question is the kicker. And here is the explanation, in four pictures, of what will happen.


A total of 1,237 delegates are required by the GOP for a candidate to become the nominee for president.


Because 2,472 delegates will attend the Republican convention, 1,237 delegates -- or 50 percent plus one -- are needed to win. For the Democrats, 4,763 delegates will attend the party convention. A candidate would need 2,382 delegates to win their party’s nomination.


A Republican must win eight states. This is called “Rule 40” and was added in 2012. According to the process, a candidate should demonstrate that they have the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight or more states. That rule could change this year at the convention.

The candidates shown on this interactive map tell the story of the campaign season so far. Trump leads Cruz, Rubio and Kasich. Trump and Cruz are closest, with 99 delegates separating the billionaire from the Texas senator.


​If none of the Republicans get to the 1,237 delegates needed by the end of all the primary contests throughout the country, this summer’s Republican convention will be considered “contested.”



The “brokered” part of the convention comes in when, after the first round of votes from all the delegates in attendance, no one still has enough to win the GOP nomination. A series of re-votes will then take place. All registered delegates at this point can switch their allegiances and vote for whomever they wish. This part of the process involves deal-making and hearing persuasive speeches from folks vying for a delegate’s vote.


Dr. Henry Flores, a professor of political science and the director of the Master of Public Administration Program at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, said a brokered convention would present a difficult situation for the GOP.

“No one wants to see their votes go up in smoke at the hands of dealmakers within the party,” Flores said. “This may cost the GOP votes in the general election if delegates change their votes on the second round.”

How far ahead is Hillary Clinton? Find out with this map of the current delegate count in the Democratic Party

Flores said he suspects that if Trump were the top vote-getter -- but unable to achieve the required delegates -- his delegates would be set free during a second round of voting and could potentially choose someone completely different.

If that happens, Flores said, those who supported Trump in all the primary elections might not participate in the general election if it means accepting a candidate they don’t like or never wanted.