Nate Silver: ‘High Probability’ of Brokered Democratic Convention in 2020

Democratic National Convention
Democratic National Convention / Getty Images
• December 8, 2017 12:49 pm


Data journalist Nate Silver tweeted Friday there is a "high probability" of a brokered Democratic National Convention in 2020 because of the potentially large field of candidates and the planned reduction of superdelegates in the nominating process.

The term "brokered convention" refers to the Democrats potentially not selecting a candidate in the first round of delegate voting due to one not winning the requisite number of delegates to clinch the nomination.

The Democratic Party "unity commission" that has been working on a list of recommended party reforms over the past year is reportedly planning to "recommend dramatic cuts to the individual voting power of superdelegates and new rules around caucuses and primaries to improve access for voters and recordkeeping," according to ABC News.

The commission is meeting Friday and Saturday to finalize the list.

Former Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile predicted last month that up to 25 people could consider running for the party's presidential nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump.

Silver, the editor of FiveThirtyEight, linked to the ABC News story and wrote, "Eliminating most unbound superdelegates + highly proportional delegate allocation + potentially huge Democratic field = high probability of a brokered convention."

Superdelegates are elected officials, party activists and other officials who serve as unpledged delegates in the nominating process. Hillary Clinton won the overwhelming majority of superdelegates in the 2016 Democratic primary fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).

Their influence in the surprisingly tight race between Clinton and Sanders led to calls for reforms in 2020, although Clinton won more primary votes and pledged delegates than Sanders as well.

DNC chair Tom Perez and vice-chair Keith Ellison co-wrote a piece this week calling for a "significant reduction" in superdelegate influence.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver, who sits on the unity commission, said the influence of superdelegates created a "perception of inevitability" for Clinton.

"One of the big problems you had in the 2016 election was that one candidate had 400 or more quote-unquote ‘delegates' before a single voter had cast a vote," Weaver told ABC News. "So you had Iowa, which was basically a tie, and after New Hampshire the pledged delegates were close to even, but the reporting on TV was 400 for one [candidate] and 50 or 60 for the other candidate. It creates the perception of inevitability from the get-go."