Allan Stevo at policymic.com writes,
While the media and Republican establishment have concluded that a Romney-Obama race is a given, Republican voters do not yet seem to agree with that conclusion. After an estimated $80 million spent by the Romney campaign this election cycle and after five years of campaigning for the presidency, Romney has yet to appeal widely to Republican voters and bridge the divides in the party.
Voters are still left, therefore, with a two man race for the Republican nomination – either a moderate challenger (Mitt Romney) running against an incumbent president, which has been an unsuccessful option since at least 1976, or an ideological challenger to an incumbent president (Ron Paul). In the years 1976, 1980, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2006, and 2008, national elections were either lost by moderates or won by principled candidates. It’s still not clear who the Republican delegates will rally around in 2012.
To win on the first ballot at the RNC, Mitt Romney needs 1,144 delegates to vote for him. If he doesn’t get that, he ends up in an ugly scenario where a floor fight is sure to take place. If Colorado, Missouri, or Minnesota are any indication, Santorum supporters and the religious right are likely to side with Paul over Romney.
National conventions are usually a coronation for an established candidate. That is not always the case, however. During a convention, anything can happen. Any political junky of a certain age remembers the drama inside and out of the 1968 Democratic convention. Political historians know that Warren Harding walked into the 1920 Republican National Convention with the support of only 7% of delegates, before being chosen as the Republican nominee at that convention on the tenth ballot, and elected president later that year.