But not impossible. National front-runners like Rudy and Hillary can survive shocks along the road, recover their balance and go on to win. Bill Clinton lost New Hampshire in 1992 and George W. Bush lost it in 2000, but each ended up doing pretty well. A candidate who is back in the polls usually can be knocked out by an adverse result in an early caucus or primary. But a front-runner usually has to be defeated one state at a time in dozens of states to be upended.
Republicans might recover their senses in time and realize that with Hillary on the ballot for the Democrats (most likely) it is no time to experiment with America’s tolerance and see if a Mormon can be elected president. With only 36 percent of the nation’s voters saying one can prevail, it would be an uphill fight. Is this truly the year the GOP wants to be saddled with a latter-day version of Al Smith in 1928? More to the point, Hillary would eat alive and spit out Romney by attacking his total inexperience in foreign policy and his current pro-life position. She won’t even need the anti-Mormon bigots to beat him.
So Republicans might pause to reconsider what they are about to do before they hand Romney the nomination. But with the extremely short lead time between Iowa and the rest of the nation’s primaries, who knows if there is enough time to stem such momentum?