Brokered Convention Law and Legal Definition

A brokered convention refers to a situation in the presidential primary and caucus process where there are not enough delegates obtained for a single candidate to obtain a majority for the presidential nominating convention. Since no candidates receive enough votes on the first ballot to win the nomination, the convention is brokered through political horse-trading and multiple ballots.

The Republicans' last multi-ballot convention was in 1948, when New York Gov. Thomas Dewey prevailed on the third ballot. He lost the general election to Democrat Harry S. Truman. The last contested Democratic convention was in 1952, when Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson won on the third ballot. He later lost two elections to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower.