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Monday March 27th

Q&A with political expert on a brokered convention

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As the Republican National Convention date approaches in July, the Republican nominee still remains unclear, with the possibility of a contested convention looming.

Staff writer Kelsey Mason spoke with Susan Roberts, an associate professor in the Political Science Department at Davison College, about the GOP’s options going forward.

The Daily Tar Heel: Can you explain what a brokered convention means and what would need to happen for a brokered convention to take place?

Susan Roberts: I think a brokered convention just means that no candidate gets enough numbers on the first balloting, and then you go to the second, and it’s a matter of maneuvering.

DTH: Who do you think the RNC would look to should a brokered convention occur?

SR: I can’t see too many of the other candidates. I can’t see (Marco) Rubio. I can’t see (Jeb) Bush. I can’t see (Chris) Christie ... I think they would have liked someone like Paul Ryan, but he’s got to be strategic.

This would not be the election for him. I think he has a really rich political future, and he’s making a really wise choice strategically and for the party because I don’t know they know who they want.

I think ... the party or the national committee ... (knows) that they don’t want Trump, but they don’t know how to get an alternative.

DTH: How would a contested convention on the Republican side affect the Democratic National Convention moving forward?

SR: I think the Democrats just sit back and wait and see who the nominee is. I think that for the Democrats, their convention is later, it’s going to be tame, and I think they can just watch from the sidelines while the Republicans kind of eat their own.

I don’t think it’s going to change their convention. I don’t think you’re going to see anything like a Bernie Sanders that looks like a (Donald) Trump insurgency.

DTH: If there’s anyone who would potentially run as a third candidate, do you have any guesses to who that could be?

SR: I have to say that I don’t. And I guess I don’t because I don’t see anyone. I don’t see Cruz being able to win without the party establishment.

The only person that might be feasible would be someone like a Trump because you need the party for a lot of resources in terms of not only advertising, but in terms of phone banks and voter files and all these things that only the party can do.

I think it might be a Donald Trump. (Ted) Cruz though, I don’t see him as a third party candidate, but you cannot underestimate his campaign organization because if you look three or four months ago, they talked about how what an incredible amount of money ... he’s bringing in.

DTH: What is the biggest takeaway that you would identify with the 2016 presidential election?

SR: I think both parties have underestimated the amount of voter unhappiness with politics as usual. And I think one of the takeaways is that it’s more than a jaded term to talk about polarization.

Because it is real, and people want things done. And I think that the takeaway would be that parties have to better understand and get a handle of the pulse of the electorate and not just ... feel like they belong to Capitol Hill or the White House.

But also, another takeaway is money doesn’t necessarily buy votes. And we teach about (how) super PACs are going to control all the elections. Jeb Bush’s campaign represented just the opposite. All the money in this Right To Rise PAC did not deliver for Jeb Bush.


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