LUTZ, FLORIDA—As Newt Gingrich plummets from his recent peak in Florida polling, he has apparently settled on a new hope: a brokered convention when the GOP meets in Tampa this summer.
Gingrich took questions from the media following services at Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church Sunday morning. Despite falling far behind Mitt Romney—an eight-point deficit according to the latest numbers from Public Policy Polling—Gingrich was in a buoyant mood as he reflected on the state of his Florida campaign. "The most significant thing in both the polls this morning is that when you add the two conservatives together, we clearly beat Romney," he said. "I think Romney has a very real challenge in trying to get a majority at the convention."
He reiterated his intention to continue his campaign to the very end, because as he sees it, "the Republican Party will not nominate a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax-increase moderate from Massachusetts." He sees the delegates uniting behind him come August. "We have no evidence yet that Romney is anywhere to coming close to getting a majority," he said, "and I think that when you take all of the non-Romney votes, it's very likely that at the convention there will be a non-Romney majority that may be very substantial. My job is to convert that into a pro-Gingrich majority."
Some conservatives have pinned their hopes on a brokered convention to displace Romney, though the majority of them talked about nominating establishment figures like Jeb Bush or Mitch Daniels—not Gingrich.
Gingrich does have a point, though. Few delegates have been handed out at this point, and many of those pledged have been nonbinding. Theoretically, he could push Santorum out of the race in the coming months and convince those delegates to back him come August.
But that's still a fairly far-fetched scenario. The number of states with Florida's winner-takes-all model only increases as the campaign calendar progresses. It won't matter if Romney gets below 50 percent support; he need only get one more vote than any of the other candidates. And while Gingrich might be able to push aside Santorum by appealing to anti-Romney sensibilities, that argument won't hold much sway when it comes to Ron Paul. Gingrich can stay in the race as long as he wants and remain a thorn in Romney's side, but unless he wins a significant number of states, the chances of a brokered convention are next to nil.