NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Whether you love him or hate him, Donald Trump is leading the delegate count by a long shot in the Republican nomination race.

But unless he gets the majority 1,237 delegates, it’s not a sure thing.

That could lead to a contested convention.

John Vile, political science professor and Dean of the Honors College at Middle Tennessee State University, said that means just because Trump will likely have the most votes, he may not end up with the majority.

“If he goes to the convention without 1,237 votes, most delegates after the first ballot are released from their obligation,” said Vile. “And then they act almost like the electoral college used to act, which is they make the decision of the person left standing that they think would be the best president.”MORE COVERAGE: 2016 Presidential Election

Vile said there is historic precedent for a contested convention.

Abraham Lincoln may be the most well-known candidate to go into the convention trailing and leave as the nominee. But that was in 1860, not 2016.

Brokered conventions mean back-room deals and horse-trading for delegates.

“You would hope that people who care enough to spend their own money to go to a convention, care enough about their party and their country that they would try to select the best possible person,” Vile said. “On a lower level, every state, every delegate has their own interest.”

The 2016 Republican National Convention is being held in Cleveland this July.