When E. Klein and K. Rove are both confident of same thing … : Ezra Klein, telling us why the South Carolina primary “won’t matter”:
One of two things will happen in South Carolina. Mitt Romney will win the primary and go on to capture the Republican nomination or Mitt Romney will lose the primary and go on to capture the Republican nomination. Barring the proverbial dead girl or live boy, those are the only realistic options.
Are we sure about this? What if the Bain attacks (and others) visibly hurt Romney in South Carolina over the next week and he loses there (Klein’s hypothetical)–or even ekes out a disappointing, low-percentage, Iowa-thin victory against three strong seconds (Gingrich, Paul, Santorum). Perry drops out, and anti-Romney voters begin to coalesce around the newly anointed Santorum. As a result, Romney does worse-than-expected in Florida. His general-election weakness is laid open for all Republicans (even Jennifer Rubin!) to see. Stuart Stevens can’t spin it away. Santorum stays in, and down the road he even beats Romney in some primaries as he becomes the conduit not just for party conservatives but for all Republicans who have doubts about Romney’s electability. …
You know where this is heading. Either because Romney keeps losing or because a late entrant jumps into the race, no GOP candidate amasses a majority of delegates–leaving open the possibility of choosing a more formidable opponent for Obama in Tampa, from a bigger list. At least I don’t think you can say with any confidence this isn’t an option. … Whippersnapper Klein is probably too young to remember the last brokered convention. [It was in 1952-e.d. See, I was right. But there have been more recent conventions (i.e. Dems in 1984) where no candidate has had a majority of delegates after the primaries. The CW that brokered conventions don’t happen will remain true until one happens.]