THE CONVERSATION: A tippy-top Republican, unprompted, yesterday sketched the germ of a plan for a new candidate if Rick Santorum upsets Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary on Feb. 28. Our friend brought visual aids: chicken-scratched versions of prosaic documents that are circulating among GOP insiders like nuclear-code sheets: In case of mayhem, break glass! …
Our friend handed us a printout of FEC deadlines for ballot access, with five of them circled and starred: California (March 23), Montana (March 12), New Jersey (April 2), New Mexico (March 16) and South Dakota (March 27). The point: Even after Feb. 28, it might be possible to assemble a Hail Mary candidacy that could garner enough delegates to force a CONTESTED convention (a different nuance than BROKERED, which implies that someone is in charge).
Under RNC rules, the delegate count builds slowly: just 15% before Super Tuesday, March 6; 19% through Super Tuesday (brings you to 34%); 17% in the rest of March (brings you to 51%); with 48% in April, May and June (21%, 12%, 15%).
Our friend said: “If somebody came on the scene that week after Super Tuesday with, ‘I’m coming in. I’m taking a look at this,’ there are enough delegates. He would suck all the oxygen out of the race. People wouldn’t even give a shit who won on these other dates in March that are after Super Tuesday. I mean, seriously, who would care? It would all be about a new savior.”
And who would that “new savior” be? Here are the Intrade odds for some GOPers not currently in the presidential race:
– Jeb Bush, 2.0 percent (up from 0.3 percent on Feb. 2)
– Mitch Daniels, 0.9 percent (up from 0.3 percent on Feb. 1)
– Chris Christie, 0.9 percent (up from 0.3 percent on Feb. 8.)
– Paul Ryan, 0.4 percent (up from 0.1 percent on Feb. 5).
So clearly the betting markets are recognizing that the chances of a new entrant have risen a bit. Of that group, Mitch Daniels was easily the closest to actually pulling the trigger last year. EXTREMELY close. Like, he had decided and then undecided. And imagine if Romney does lose Michigan, all these odds are going to skyrocket. Bush might want to turn off his iPhone or Blackberry the day after.