It should be no surprise some Republicans are talking about a brokered convention in Tampa in August.  Many harbour the hope a new candidate will emerge in the next few weeks and will be anointed the chosen one, replacing the four men who are now pursing the nomination.

The party looks at the current economic climate, the high price of gas, the unemployment figures and believes Barack Obama could be a one term President.  The problem is at the moment, they don’t seem to be able to agree on who can beat him.

Let’s consider the idea of a late run from some high profile figure.  Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey has been mentioned.  But he is a prominent backer of Mitt Romney.  He has attended events around the country for him, introduced him before rallies in key states and defended him in the media.  Ditching him now would seem too brutal and too clinical by some and probably spoil his chances of a run at the nomination next time around.

The idea of someone dropping in now also ignores the electoral realities. The arithmetic simply doesn’t add up.  To secure the nomination, a candidate needs 1144 delegates.  If someone decided to run when the results of Super Tuesday became clear and there was no clear winner, the filing deadlines to get on the ballot have passed in all but seven state.  Even if the magic candidate won every single remaining contest – even though only New Jersey and Utah (a Romney banker incidentally) are the only two to award delegates on a winner takes all basis, there are fewer than 400 delegates up for grabs.  And that’s if someone could somehow produce the finance and organisation which the others have been building for months, and in some cases years.

So comes the idea of a brokered convention, when the Republican Party gathers to confirm its nominee.  All four men have promised to continue their campaigns until then.  If no-one hits the magic figure, and it seems unlikely that three can, then it starts to get interesting.   If no-one secures enough votes in the first ballot to win the nomination, delegates previously pledged and promised are released and new rounds of voting follow.  If no-one wins after that it is possible the delegates on the floor can suggest someone else who could then join the voting.

One of those talking up this idea is former Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, who opted not to run this time around.  She says of the idea: “I would do whatever I could to help”.  Some see that as a clear pitch for the job.

Some Republicans hope in such a scenario that former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, would step in.  He’s been critical of the infighting and back biting among the current candidates, but has given no indication he’s about to reverse his decision to stay out of the fight this time around.

The last time any party came close to a brokered convention was in 1976 when then President Gerald Ford arrived short of the magic number of delegates but under pressure from former California governor, Ronald Reagan, he rounded up enough support to win the Republican  nomination on the first ballot.

Though anyone who predicts what can happen in this latest campaign may be misguided, the fact that Republicans still hanker for someone else shows deep dissatisfaction with the choice they have before them.  But at this late stage, it’s likely to be the only choice they’ll have. 

 

Follow Alan throughout the campaign on Twitter: @alanfisher