brokered convention

Definition
A.k.a. open or contested convention. A situation in American primary presidential election campaigns where no candidate, by the time of the convention after the final primary election, has accrued a majority of delegates. Delegates are then freed from their commitment to support their original candidate, and so called “horse trading” is engaged in until one candidate can attain a majority and thus go on to become the party’s nominee. The winner is not necessarily the first or second highest delegate holder but can also be a compromise candidate, as happened in the 1924 Democratic convention. Technically a brokered convention is only when power brokers, such as super delegates, unelected apparatchiks, step in and use their reserve powers to decide the issue.