But see National Journal, "After Alabama and Mississippi: Will the GOP Convention Be a Battleground?":
Is it time to take the Republican convention seriously as a potential battleground?Okay, continue reading.
Republicans should know better by now. Their still-putative nominee, Mitt Romney, lacks the conservative support to capture the kind of expectations-exceeding primary win necessary to capsize underfunded but motivated rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
Romney didn’t do it in South Carolina, Colorado, or Tennessee. He proved unable once again on Tuesday to claim victory in a state, Mississippi, that seemed tantalizingly within reach.
The months-long trend makes it clear that Romney will have to win the GOP nomination with math, not acclamation, steadily accumulating enough delegates in friendly contests until he reaches the nomination-clinching number of 1,144. But that path is fraught with risk. There is always the chance that he’ll fall just short of the magic number, which raises the possibility of a contested August convention in Tampa.
Many mocked the notion a month ago, but it now seems increasingly likely. “After last night, you have to start think it’s possible,'” said political consultant Curt Anderson, a former political director of the Republican National Committee who advised Rick Perry before he quit the race. “It seems more possible than before, that’s for sure.”
National Journal mentions the Santorum memo released last weekend: "Santorum Path to Delegate Victory." The memo argues that Santorum's share of delegates is being underestimated. Iowa's actual convention delegates have yet to be allocated and Santorum will pick up more than currently projected, for example. And the memo indicates that the long proportional delegate selection process for 2012 will work to the advantage of the more conservative candidate over time.
Personally, my sense is that the proof is in the pudding. If Santorum can beat Romney in some upcoming winner-take-all states --- thus really banking the delegates, while further demonstrating widespread appeal across the GOP primary electorate --- I'll be more likely to consider the idea of a brokered convention. Especially important will be the Maryland and Wisconsin primaries on April 3. Wisconsin looks particularly crucial, as the winner there will (again, after Ohio) secure bragging rights as the candidate best situated to beat President Obama in November. In late February, the Marquette University Law School Poll had Santorum leading the GOP field in the Badger State with 34 percent. Romney was trailing Santorum at 18 percent, Ron Paul with 17, and Newt Gingrich at 12 percent. And a survey out March 1 from Public Policy Polling has Santorum at 43 percent, with Romney following at 27 percent, Gingrich at 10 percent and Paul taking 8 percent. No doubt those numbers will tighten up over the next couple of weeks, but it's the Santorum campaign that's got the big momentum at this point. Romney's campaign has been floundering, frankly, and the best argument he can make for his nomination is that he's got the most delegates --- he can't claim he's capturing the excitement of the Republican base. That said, political scientist Josh Putnam says the math is extremely prohibitive for Santorum, as does --- wait for it! --- Jennifer Rubin.
I'll have more on this later. Until then, let's hear it from Santorum himself:
More from Reuters, "Santorum to Puerto Rico: Speak English if you want statehood" (via Memeorandum).
And once more, Robert Stacy McCain, "Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Mathematical Impossibilities Happen."