Evan Soltas
Feb 25, 2012

"Brokered" Bedlam

The not-running contenders are almost tied with Santorum, Gingrich, Paul

When I leave the land of economics every now and then, to peek through the looking-glass that is today's American politics, I like to bring my economics rigor with me.

We've heard a lot, recently, about the possibility of a "brokered convention," in which delegates assigned to candidates are released and then the political games of securing the nomination begin on the floor of the convention in Tampa, Florida. (The Washington Post has a good overview of how a brokered convention would work, although clearly they underestimated the likelihood of this happening at the time the article was written.)

So how likely is it, exactly? Intrade pins it at 17.2 percent chance. That's far higher than every non-Romney Republican contender's chance of winning the nomination. In fact, if we look at five top Republicans who said they weren't running--Paul Ryan, John Thune, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Sarah Palin, we see that their odds of winning the nomination they aren't supposedly competing for have done very strange things in the past month. They've soared.

In fact, the combined likelihood of any of these five non-contenders winning the nomination would have made them competitive against the odds of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul this month.

Maybe the best strategy to win the nomination, in this strange year, is to not run for it. "The only winning move is not to play," to quote the movie War Games.