Is this GOP field fatally wounded?....
But NOT so fast. The poll was taken before Romney's gaffe about liking to fire people--out of context, to be sure, but if voters think otherwise Mitt will have a huge problem.
A Brokered Convention? In that South Carolina may prevent a Romney sweep of January--Larry Sabato said on TV this AM that SC's big Evangelical vote, plus the possibility that one conservative may emerge from the cluster, makes SC not a sure thing for Mitt-- assume that, given Romney's weak candidacy, that a brokered convention or new entrant, are both still possible. If Ron Paul (seeking leverage at the GOP convention) & Newt Gingrich (funded by anti-Romney biggies & thirsting for revenge) hang in, or if a surprise entrant surfaces in time to compete in the March primaries, the result may keep Romney below the 1,150 delegates Mitt needs to clinch the nomination on the first ballot.
Bill Kristol has already called for a brokered convention, in preference to a field of sub-par quality:
It may not happen. The delegates in Tampa may end up doing what delegates at recent conventions have done, rubber-stamping a nominee and serving as props in a TV show. But a rush to judgment by political elites and premature closure of the nominating process hasn’t served Republicans, or conservatives, particularly well in the last several election cycles.
It’s a new political era. Perhaps that era will feature once again a real, deliberative convention—where the delegates, with the ghosts of Lincoln and FDR looking on, choose, on a second or third or fourth ballot, a compelling nominee and a consequential president.
Radio host Michael Medved sees not only a weak field, but also changes in the primary rules & timing as potentially crucial. Most primaries are not winner-take-all, and California's huge delgate count will be decided four months later than in 2008, when it was part of Super Tuesday; in 2012 the CA primary comes on June 6.
Jay Cost wants to return to the old nominating system, which was, he writes, far from the cliched "smoke-filled" room of yore; in fact, it was a remarkably open system and far less capricious than today's process.
At minimum, the GOP needs to do hard thinking. Does it want its first two contests to be in a quirky Midwest state caucus and an oddball northeast crossover primary state?
Here is a pitch made for Jeb Bush as the best GOP choice, partly because he might be best able among those sitting on the sidelines to raise funds & assemble an organization in short order. And because Obama has channeled many Bush foreign policy choices, O's "not Bush" mantra may not sell in 2012.
Bottom Line. If Mitt has not clinched a first ballot nomination he will not be the nominee. It seems unlikely after two primary wins, but not impossible.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics