Mitt Romney wants nothing more than to lock up the Republican nomination and focus entirely on beating President Obama. But for Ron Paul’s supporters, the long primary season ain’t over till it’s over. The Texas congressman hasn’t won a single primary in his third run for the White House, yet his acolytes are much savvier at political maneuvering than in campaigns past. This year they’re determined to influence the nominating process at the GOP convention in Tampa.
To win the so-called roll call vote there and become the nominee, you need 1,144 delegates. Romney has 847. Paul has 80. Contest over, right?
Paul is actually gaining ground in some states, where intense contests to divvy up delegates are underway. At one gathering last weekend in Massachusetts, the majority of delegates elected were Paul supporters. He may do just as well in upcoming votes in Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, and Maine, according to Josh Putnam, assistant political science professor at Davidson College.
That doesn’t mean Paul’s going to steal the nomination from Romney in Tampa. But his delegates could shake things up right when the party’s supposed to unify behind a single candidate. They could start off by calling for a floor vote, and then jump up in blocs to nominate Paul, one state after another. He isn’t likely to actually get the nomination that way, but multiple states clamoring for him would embarrass the party and make things more difficult for Romney in the months before November.