Here's What Happens If There's A Brokered Convention For The 2020 Democratic Nomination

The results of Super Tuesday will provide a clearer picture as to whether the candidate for the Democratic Party will be determined ahead of the Democratic National Committee's summer convention or if it will descend into a contested—and likely chaotic—competition.

If no one candidate walks away from Super Tuesday with a majority of the pledged delegates being awarded, the party will be staring down the barrel of a likely contested convention where they'll have to determine a nominee.

Though one has not occurred in decades, FiveThirtyEight said as of Monday there was a 65 percent chance of a contested convention.

Here's how such a process would play out.

contested convention explainer
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) waves to the crowd after the Vermont delegation cast their votes during roll call on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

If no candidate receives at least 1,991 delegates—the majority of the 3,979 pledged delegates—during the first round of voting at the convention, then a contested convention is triggered. Because the party lacks any winner-take-all states and doles out delegates proportionally and due to several Democrats still in the running, the odds for no one candidate amassing a majority of delegates increases exponentially.

However, the nomination doesn't automatically go to the candidate who receives the plurality of delegates.

During a contested convention, pledged delegates can vote for anyone they choose, and 771 powerful superdelegates are introduced into the mix. Superdelegates, which makeup about 17 percent of delegates, are party leaders and elected officials who can vote for whomever they please, though they often vote for the candidate their state supported.

Voting continues until one candidate secures a majority of the 4,750 delegates that are available when superdelegates are included.

Democratic strategists have told Newsweek that such a process would likely be a chaotic and divisive spectacle to watch play out on live television with delegates trying to persuade one another for their respective candidate.

And as concerns among moderate and vulnerable House Democrats about the effects a self-described democratic socialist could have on down-ballot, some members in Congress have suggested they should use their superdelegate power to band together and choose a nominee other than Bernie Sanders.

Supporters of the Vermont senator warn such a move would be damaging for the party and help President Donald Trump's re-election chances.

"Do you want to get Trump out or not?" said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. Jayapal has endorsed Sanders.

"If you want to get Trump out, you unify around the Democratic candidate and you unify around the person that has the best shot of turning out a democratic base and winning in states across the country," Jayapal contended. "If Bernie is currently winning in states across the country, turning out the democratic base and has the strongest possibility of beating Trump, you better get behind Bernie, otherwise you're not really for getting Donald Trump out."

Superdelegates allow the party establishment to have more control over who the nominee becomes. After the 2016 primary where many Sanders' supporters felt superdelegates stole the nomination from Sanders for Hillary Clinton by supporting the former secretary of state and influencing voters, the Democratic National Committee made superdelegates less powerful.

Rather than the ability to vote with pledged delegates during the first round of voting, they're only able to participate in the event of a contested convention during the second round of voting and thereafter until there's a nominee.

The field Democratic White House hopefuls has dwindled in recent days with three candidates dropping out: billionaire Tom Steyer, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

By ending their presidential bids, they paved the way for former Vice President Joe Biden to receive more delegates from Super Tuesday. Buttigieg and Klobuchar stumped with Biden on the campaign trail in Texas Monday night, officially endorsing him for the 2020 election.

The endorsements were signs that moderate Democrats see the writing on the wall: unless they do something different and help Biden secure more delegates going forward, Sanders will either secure the nomination or the race will be contested.