The 1920 Republican National Convention.
With Mitt Romney unable to build support with a solid majority of Republicans, and the only alternative—Rick Santorum—an unelectable disaster, some Republicans have floated the possibility of a brokered convention, where party leaders decide the nominee for themselves. There are a few practical problems with this scenario; first, a new candidate would have had to enter the race two months ago, in order to have a chance at amassing a substantial portion of delegates. Moreover, it’s been forty years since individual party leaders controlled large portions of delegates. In other words, there are no delegates for GOP elites to actually broker.
Then there’s the issue of Republican voters themselves. If this new survey from Gallup and USA Today is any indication, Republicans aren’t too keen on the idea of a brokered convention:
By 66%–29%, the Republicans and Republican-leaning independents surveyed say it would be better if one of the four candidates now running managed to secure enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Most are happy to see their roller-coaster campaign continue: 57% say the battle isn’t hurting the party.
I’m not so sure on the latter assessment—the public’s opinion of Mitt Romney, in particular, has taken a huge dive since the beginning of the year—but the former is clear enough. Republican leaders would a serious problem on their hands if they tried to buck the voters and install a candidate of their own.