EJ Dionne thinks it'll probably be Romney. But he admits Santorum's strategies may win out.
... Will Santorum’s over-the-top comments, added to all his other socially conservative pronouncements, create a wave of enthusiasm for him, particularly in the very religious precincts in western Michigan? In that case, is Santorum shrewder than most of the commentariat thinks?
Nobody really knows who is going to vote in Michigan today. The conventional view, which I lean toward, is that Romney’s television ads attacking Santorum, combined with Santorum’s extreme statements, will push enough Republican voters Romney’s way to give the son of Michigan’s late governor a victory tonight. If Romney does win, pay attention to the gender gap. A Romney victory would be built on the votes of women.
The alternative view, which has gained ground among political analysts over the past 24 to 36 hours, is that the energy in the state as the polls opened was with Santorum. This new momentum, combined with some cross-over Democratic voters who want to give Romney trouble, could be enough to give Santorum a victory — and throw the Republican race into chaos. ...EJ Dionne, WaPo
Karen Tumulty, also in the Post, thinks a brokered convention is out of the question.
... For all the dreaming, the reality is this: The chance of a late entry winning the Republican nomination is now exceedingly remote.
“Winning Powerball two days in a row is probably easier than any of these scenarios,” said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
Added Steve Schmidt, who headed up day-to-day operations for GOP nominee John McCain four years ago: “A lot of this discussion evades reality.” ...WaPo
And then there's the irrefutable math facing a late arrival.
If a candidate decided to enter the race after Super Tuesday on March 6, the filing deadlines will have passed in all but seven states.
Even if that person picked up every single delegate in those remaining primaries — highly unlikely, given that only New Jersey and Utah award theirs on a statewide winner-take-all basis — the newcomer would fall way short, with fewer than 400 delegates. ...WaPo
But that doesn't exclude a brokered convention, does it? Yes. Pretty much. And here's why:
... A brokered convention, as political strategist Karl Rove pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, “needs party bosses, and today there aren’t any. In the old days, party chiefs often led delegations of regulars who took orders and depended on patronage. No longer.”
Indeed, one of the reasons that this year’s contest has had so many ups and downs is that the Republican party’s activist base has developed a revulsion to the party establishment. And those likely to attend the convention as delegates are disproportionately drawn from the far right reaches of the party — the people least likely to listen to any dictates from GOP insiders and deal brokers. ...WaPo