A Contested Convention Could Happen For The Dems

by Andi O'Rourke

The possibility of a contested or brokered Republican convention has been abuzz since former reality television star Donald Trump began taking what's left of the GOP by storm. But what are the chances of a contested Democratic convention this summer in Philadelphia? Let's take a look at the candidates, the remaining contests and how many delegates are still out there.

According to Real Clear Politics' tabulation, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton currently has 1,287 elected delegates to her name and 469 unelected delegates — those superdelegates that could make or break her candidacy. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has 1,037 delegates and 31 unelected delegates. Now, some of that math can change. For one thing, superdelegate endorsements mean nothing really until the convention gets underway. Until then, they are free to support whomever they chose, stay neutral, and, most importantly, switch allegiances.

Another way that the math can change is more complicated. One of the interesting — although some would argue, completely outmoded — feature of the caucus system is that in some areas, the initial caucus night at the precinct level is just the beginning. In my current state of Washington, for example, following the first caucus then there are legislative district caucuses, then county-level caucuses, then our state convention! It is possible for either candidate to pick up or lose delegates at any level in this process for a whole host of reasons.


Sanders has recently picked up delegates at the Nevada and Missouri local conventions; whether or not this trend will continue depends on turnout, organization, and the passionate speeches that are sure to come from the fervent supporters of each candidate.

To secure the nomination, a Democrat needs to secure 2,382 delegates. As the math stands now, there are 1,939 remaining delegates, 1,727 of which are elected delegates and 212 are superdelegates who have not yet committed to either side. In order to secure the nomination, Clinton needs to win 626 more delegates, or 32.3 percent of the remaining total. Sanders needs to capture 1,314 more delegates to win, or 67.7 percent of the remaining total, to lock down the nomination before the convention.

However, if Sanders and his well-financed grassroots campaign has anything to say, they'll be taking their message and their delegates to the convention floor this summer, regardless of who finishes off the primary season with the most delegates. Sanders has been on a winning streak, nabbing seven wins in the last eight caucuses. The Democratic race doesn't show any signs of slowing down, not by a long shot, and there is a very real possibility that the nomination is hashed out on the convention floor.