It seems that Willard Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party nominee. The RNC and GOP establishment have too much to lose, have spent too much time and money and favors, to allow any other outcome, barring some sort of miracle. The Paul Ryan pick was meant to shave off as many libertarian-leaning Republican voters as possible, in spite of the fact that Ryan, by and large, is either a phony or a lightweight.
Romney’s hard delegate total is 1463. He has a plurality in 43 states. For Santorum it is 234 and 6. For Paul it is 122 and 3. For Gingrich it is 137 and 2. 1144 delegates are needed to win the nomination and five states are needed to be entered into nomination. Romney and possibly Santorum will be nominated because they have the required plurality in at least five states. If just 320 of Romney’s delegates decide not to vote for him, a brokered convention is guaranteed. 320 seems like a lot. But think about it: how many of those are not Romney supporters? Its only 22 percent of the total. And if only two states that give a plurality to someone besides Paul cooperate with with the three Paul plurality states, Paul’s name could be entered into nomination, in spite of the RNC’s efforts to destroy Ron Paul’s pluralities in Maine and Louisiana, which border on the criminal.
But here are some factors that could turn things around. But because most of them are long shots, they probably won’t. Besides, not all of them are compatible with all of the others.
1. No delegates are bound. While, technically each state Republican Party can make its delegates sign pieces of paper promising to vote for Mitt Romney, these “contracts” are not necessarily enforceable in Tampa. And even if they are somehow punishable under state law in the home state of the delegates, I can’t imagine the legal ramifications being all that great. Furthermore, Federal law, RNC rules, and the courts forbid compelling people to vote for a candidate, although once again, there may be ramifications such as getting kicked out of the GOP or being discredited and then replaced with more “cooperative” alternate delegates.
2. Some of Romney’s delegates and possibly some of the alternates are in fact Ron Paul supporters. Some or all of these may have been required to promise to vote for Romney, but once again, there are loopholes that could get them out of doing so without getting punished too bad.
3. I suspect that most of these Ron Paul supporters, whether they are “bound” to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum, would be willing to not vote for whom they are “bound” even if the consequences are great.
4. Gingrich and Santorum delegates are still to vote for Gingrich and Santorum, unless they are released. If they are released, most of those that aren’t closet Paul supporters will probably vote for Romney. But there is hope: many non-Paul supporters, particularly in the Santorum camp, dislike Romney almost as much as the Paul folks do.
5. There are 100-200 delegates still in play, depending on which count you use. They are not “bound” to anyone yet. These delegates could change any number of things, for better or for worse.
6. A brokered convention will not hurt the GOP’s chances in November, which at the moment, are dismal. It will, however, hurt Mitt Romney and the establishment. And frankly, they deserve it. Party unity is all fine and good, but who says a brokered convention precludes an eventual outcome that is even more united behind a candidate? No one but those who actually like Romney and think he can win should be wary of the prospect of a brokered convention.
7. Rand Paul is still on the inside. I have always wondered why he endorsed Romney when he did. His father was still in the race, still picking up delegates. Why not wait until after Romney is actually the nominee? He promised, when running for office in Kentucky that he would support the 2012 GOP nominee, and it seems he kept his promise. Not to mention that his endorsement gave the Paul folks at least some leverage that they otherwise wouldn’t have. But until Romney is actually the nominee, Rand Paul is free to renege without actually breaking his original promise. This could come in the form of a vote of no confidence. If Rand and perhaps others (Maine Governor Paul LePage, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, perhaps) were to rescind their endorsements at a crucial point (for Rand, this could be his floor speech), it could spell disaster for the establishment and Romney-Ryan. But not necessarily for the GOP’s chances in November.
8. Even if they are unable to command enough of the vote to deny Romney the nomination, those few anti-Romney delegates and alternates at the convention, were they to stage a walkout before the first ballot, could ruin the convention. Especially if they are enough to destroy the quorum.
9. Ron Paul may yet be recognized as having a plurality in five states, in which case, his name could be put to nomination. While the vote for him may pale in comparison to the vote for Romney, his name being available for the first round of voting could deny Romney more votes than he would otherwise be denied. On the other had, the Contests Committee has decided to strip Paul of his plurality in two of five states. The Credentials Committee has upheld one of these. But who knows, maybe something will happen. Maybe someone has an ace up their sleeve. Maybe enough Romney delegates will be replaced by Paul alternates to give him a plurality in five states. Maybe there is some way some Gingrich and Santorum voters will nominate Paul so as to give him the plurality. If I am correct, you don’t actually have to have won delegates, and they don’t actually have to be your supporters to nominate you. If the majority of delegates from just two of Gingrich and Santorum’s combined plurality-states decide to nominate Paul, it could give Paul the five states needed. Maybe with the right amount of stalling and maneuvering something will happen. Unfortunately, this may not work with the above mentioned walkout.
10. But what about a walkout after Romney wins the nomination? This may seem to be in poor sport, but it might just send the right messages to the right people at the right time. I don’t know what would result from it, but I doubt it would be nothing.
11. Romney needs Ron Paul’s endorsement more than anyone else’s if he is to win in November. Grover Norquist, for one, has said as much. But the establishment, were they to admit this, would have to make some serious, and I mean serious, concessions. This is not going to happen, of course. Not the least of reasons being that the establishment may not even want to win in November. Certainly not at the price of limiting their interventionism, mercantilism, monetarism, and corporativism. So Romney will not get the Ron Paul endorsement, and as a consequence will be that much less likely to defeat Obama in November. Of course, Romney might lose even with the Ron Paul endorsement, because, other factors aside, many Paul supporters would still not vote for Romney.
12. Some elements of the establishment may actually want a brokered convention. Romney is like that. I would have cold feet too. But if it happens, they might not be able to control it. Which is why they will stay in the mainstream fold until they are given more reason to despise Romney (a vote of no confidence by some key endorsers might do the trick) or expect someone else of their liking will pick up the pieces.
Of course, this is mostly just fantasy. But the Paul people have pulled off some astonishing feats in the past. Why underestimate them now?