The survey finds that 58 percent of Republican primary voters want more presidential choices, while just 37 percent say they are satisfied with the current field. The percentage of Republican primary voters that wants more choices has increased 12 percentage points since October.
It's mathematically possible for another candidate to enter the race as late as early February and still win enough delegates to take the nomination, though some deadlines for candidates to get on state ballots have already passed, including those in delegate-rich Virginia and Illinois. A late entry into the GOP race would come with potentially-overwhelming obstacles, including the need to instantly build a national campaign apparatus and do the hard work of getting on state ballots in an extremely compressed time period. There is no candidate in the GOP field who more than one third of Republican primary voters say they would enthusiastically support if he were the nominee.
The CBS story explains why a late entrant could technically pull off a win, but the calendar and filing deadlines would make that task exceedingly difficult. As I've spoken to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, more than a few have volunteered that their favorite candidate isn't in the race. Names like Palin, West, and (especially) Christie have come up in several such conversations, but so what? There is no practical point to polls like this. Should Republicans simply mope about and wallow in their own discontent? The Obamedia love trumpeting the 'dissatisfied Republican' meme, of course, because they hope it will help narrow the enthusiasm gap that helped generate 2010's crimson wave. So even though I'm far from thrilled with the field as it stands, it is what it is. To continue carping about it serves no purpose, and is also a bit disrespectful to the active candidates themselves -- who have opened themselves up to the hellish scrutiny that accompanies a presidential run.
Although I can relate to the mild disappointment, that last bolded sentence worries me. Only 1/3 of Republicans are prepared to "enthusiastically support" the eventual nominee, regardless of who he is? Really? Surely some of that dissatisfaction will dissipate as intra-party squabbles thaw, but that's still a very low number. Can the GOP base not fire itself up to accomplish the essential task of showing President Obama and his dreadful crew the door? What about a brokered convention? Erick Erickson is pining for that outcome, but Allahpundit is dubious:
No, a brokered convention wouldn’t solve the problem. Can you imagine the public watching Romney, Paul, and one of the other candidates wage a 50-state war for the next six months, with all the media coverage that would entail, only to have some entirely new person dropped on them as nominee two months before the election? Voters aren’t going to hand the launch codes to someone like Paul Ryan or Chris Christie who’s unknown to 80 percent of the electorate. And the baggage of Jeb’s last name would be even heavier if he were picked at a brokered convention: It would smell illegitimate, as if the GOP establishment had somehow engineered a primary coup to install yet another member of the Bush royal family to the throne.
He's right. It wouldn't be just, nor would most voters abide such an outcome -- especially the finicky and growing pack of coveted "independents." Like it or not, the GOP nominating process will move forward as a brawl among six profoundly flawed candidates. One man will eventually emerge, warts and all. And that person will instantly become the only viable alternative to four more years of Barack Obama. Period.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography