Polling News

Historical Look At Defecting Delegates

July 21, 2016

Donald Trump was officially nominated as the GOP’s 2016 presidential nominee on Day Two of the Republican National Convention.  As he received 1,725 delegates out of the 2,472 (more than the required 1,237 delegates necessary), there were still a number of delegates who backed another candidate.  According to data the Washington Post compiled from the Congressional Quarterly’s “Guide to U.S. Elections,” 30.2% of 2016 Republican delegates cast their vote for other candidates.   

That is the highest percentage of delegates bucking the GOP nominee since the party’s contested 1976 convention and the eighth highest percentage in Republican history.  Almost all the seven other conventions occurred in the Gilded Age and turn-of-the-century when presidential nominations were decided in smoky back rooms and in brawls on the convention floor (for more about those, be sure to visit www.rove.com/convention). 

In addition to the 1976 battle between Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, the Republican conventions of 1876 (which nominated Rutherford B. Hayes), 1880 (James A. Garfield), 1884 (James G. Blaine), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison), 1892 (Harrison), and 1912 (William Taft) all saw between 30-50% of delegates vote for someone other than the nominee.  It should be noted in most Gilded Age contests, there were several candidates in consideration, so this would have been expected.

Donald Trump has an opportunity to win over the 30.2% of delegates and Republican and swing voters watching at home in his acceptance speech tonight.  He must bring positive enthusiasm to the stage and present an optimistic vision for the future if he wants them on his side come November.

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