A Contested DNC Convention Could Be On The Horizon

by Claire Elizabeth Felter

The race between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is close. Of course, there's still a five-month wait between now and when the Democratic Party will officially name its nominee for the 2016 presidential election, but that isn't that much time when the decision is as weighty as figuring out who's most fit to run the country for four years. With one caucus all in for Hillary and one primary vote very much in favor of Bernie, American voters who favor one side of the aisle seem to disagree. So will there be a contested DNC convention this year? Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that the close race could continue right up to the party's convention in July.

In an interview with CNN that went live on Thursday, Reid was asked if there was any possibility of Americans going into a Democratic convention without a consensus nominee. The senate minority leader's response, however, showed more so his excitement at the prospect of a down-to-the-wire contest than anything else.

"I don't know, but it would be kind of fun," Reid said during the sit-down with CNN. Reid also pointed out that the party hasn't had many primaries in the past that weren't close, and suggested that this year's would be no different.

So what is a contested, or brokered, convention, exactly? A convention sans a consensus nominee is possible, but it's never actually happened since presidential primary elections became the norm across the United States. The situation occurs when no candidate secures a majority of delegate votes before the official vote goes down at the party's national nominating convention. For example, a candidate needs 2,382 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination this year, so if both Clinton and Sanders end up in the realm of 2,000 delegates, the party could be looking at a brokered convention this summer.

The Republican National Convention in 1976 was projected to be contested, with incumbent Gerald Ford heading into the nominating convention with a slight lead over Ronald Reagan but without an actual majority of delegates. The chance of a brokered convention happening this election year is actually more likely on the Republican side, with both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in positions to snag delegates from front-runner Donald Trump. But if the primaries continue the way of Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton and Sanders could potentially reach July without a majority of delegate votes.

Other big names in the Democratic Party don't view the situation as even remotely likely. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz shot down the idea on Thursday during an appearance on CNN's The Lead With Jake Tapper, saying:

There were predictions of a brokered convention, a fight that would go all the way to the convention, in 2008, if you recall, Jake, and that didn't happen. It didn't happen because this was wrapped up in a timely process through the normal primary schedule, and I think that will be the case here.

True, Wasserman Schultz. But that was Barack versus Hillary, and this is Hillary versus Bernie, meaning it's a totally different ball game.