Nothing short of the mathematical elimination of it as a possibility will eliminate talk of a “brokered” or “open” or “deadlocked” Republican convention this year. I’ve said my piece about why it’s about as likely as the appointment of the nominee by a special committee of Space Aliens suddenly appearing in the skies over Tampa. But what the hell; it’s fun to speculate about what would happen if Republicans did gather without a preordained nominee. (As a veteran National Convention staffer myself, I wonder who would actually plan the convention. Yes, there is a semi-permanent infrastructure assembled by the national party, but the keys are routinely turned over to the staff of the putative nominee months in advance, and not a pencil is bought without their consent).

In any event, Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics has created a very cool spreadsheet device that readers can use to figure out scenarios that might or might not produce a convention without a majority of delegates pledged to one candidate. You put in the candidate percentages in each state, and it will tell you right away how many delegates those percentages would likely produce or forfeit.

As Sean mentions right up front, the only scenarios producing a “brokered convention” (or as I prefer to call it, a “deliberative convention”) are those where third and fourth candidates continue to remain viable and rack up delegates. Certainly Ron Paul is in for good, but the idea that Newt Gingrich can continue to gain enough votes to get delegates barring major new subventions of money is certainly questionable, and depends on the theory that he has an irreducible southern base of support.

But go ahead and play with the scenarios if you wish. It’s certainly less hazardous to your mental health than actually listening to the candidates.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.