Tony Blankley

But do those strong feelings help Romney (seen by many as the most electable), or do they hurt him because he is not seen as convinced in his conservative policies? Will the wild voter preference swings for and then away from various true conservative non-Romney candidates continue as the voters feel this election is too important to make a quick -- and possibly wrong -- choice?

Third, unlike previous primaries, the candidates announced late, they are underfunded -- even Romney and Perry -- there is little advertising or funds for it, and there are smaller state campaign operations with less paid and volunteer staff.

Fourth, perhaps most important, between constant cable television debates with very high viewership, talk radio, internet and social media, this is the most and earliest nationalized primary process we have ever seen.

The purposes of heavy advertising and powerful state operations are to persuade voters to their candidate, identify those voters and get them to the polls -- often in harsh winter conditions. But with massive coverage of the constant debates and with intense motivation of the voters (perhaps with social media as a cheap substitute for traditional get-out-the-vote efforts) it may be that big budget campaigns may not be decisive.

More important, those traditional campaigns tend to move voters to the leading candidate -- and tend to keep them corralled in that camp. But without the steadying effect of such campaigns, a contest defined by national debate rather than state organization may be singularly susceptible to continued voter fluctuation and thus, to a lack of early decisiveness.

Fifth, consider also that the GOP changed its winner take all rules. Now, any state that holds a primary or caucus before April 1 must award their delegates on a proportional basis, rather than the winner-take-all method. This means that a front runner with, say, a 38 percent plurality in a six-way split field will get only 38 percent of the delegates instead of 100 percent. This will keep second tier candidates in the hunt and deny the front-runner the steamroller effect that usually delivers a de facto winner in the GOP by February.

And here is the kicker. If we do go into the August convention with no candidate holding a majority of the delegates, then the door is open to non-primary candidates being nominated after the first inconclusive ballot. Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee or others could get in the race. Or a brilliant speech by Newt Gingrich could take the convention by storm.

Break out the Nicorettes and flavored Vodkas. We could be in for the modern version of smoke-and-whisky-filled rooms in Tampa next August.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

©Creators Syndicate