Those who are dissatisfied with the current four GOP candidates hope that someone more palatable will come out of the convention. Yet who is there? Most of our major Republican political leaders today have flaws that would come to light under close scrutiny. Chris Christie is an attractive new candidate nationally, but once he is under the presidential spotlight his moderate record will become an issue with the conservative base. Sarah Palin has indicated she would be open to being selected at a brokered convention, but she has lost a lot of support from conservatives over the past couple of years. Some of the more principled GOP leaders with excellent records like Michelle Bachmann poll extremely poorly against Obama. Considering Bachmann dropped out of the primary earlier, it is less conceivable that the delegates would go back to someone who appears so freshly defeated.
The likely result of a brokered convention is that one of the three frontrunners – Romney, Santorum or Gingrich – will take the nomination. In order to choose anyone else, many more delegates loyal to one of the top three candidates would have to be persuaded to switch their votes. This means a brokered convention will probably not be as chaotic as some predict, but it is far from an optimal situation.
Much of the reason the GOP primary process has gone on this long without one candidate achieving a clear lead is due to changes Michael Steele made to the primaries when he was RNC chairman. He moved the primary election dates up in states that allocate delegates proportionally, ahead of winner take all states’ elections. He said the purpose was to give more people in post-Super Tuesday states a greater opportunity to compete. But at what cost? Allow the GOP to bruise itself so much it guarantees a weak run against Obama?
For most Republican voters, the favorability of a brokered convention comes down to whether they support Romney or one of the other three candidates. Although Romney polls best against Obama, and it would be better to have the GOP candidate selected sooner rather than later, many would rather opt for the wildcard of a brokered convention as a last ditch chance for their candidate.
Santorum supporters wish Gingrich would drop out of the race, since much of the conservative base’s vote is currently split between the two candidates and Gingrich has no chance at getting 50% of the delegates. If enough of Gingrich’s supporters were to switch to Santorum, Santorum would have a realistic chance at obtaining a majority of delegates before the convention. However, Gingrich knows that anything could happen at a brokered convention, and the longer he stays in the race, the more likely it will end up in a brokered convention. No one thought either Gingrich or Santorum would have the comebacks they did earlier in the primary, so it is not inconceivable one of them could defeat Romney at a brokered convention.