The RNC isn’t just nervous about Nevada. In the past few weeks, as Romney cemented his hold on the nomination and the media turned its attention to the general election, Paul supporters have wreaked havoc at numerous district caucuses and state conventions, producing some startling results. For instance, 20 of Iowa’s 28 national convention delegates will likely be Paul supporters – even though the Texan finished third in the state’s January caucuses with 21 percent of the vote. And 20 of the 24 delegates selected in district caucuses in Minnesota recently are Paul backers, even though he was trounced by Rick Santorum in the state’s February caucuses. Similar stories have emerged from Louisiana, Colorado and Massachusetts, with the list likely to grow.
This is possible because of the GOP’s multi-tier delegate selection process. In many caucus states, the “official” results that most people saw this winter were from nonbinding straw polls conducted in conjunction with precinct-level caucuses. But when it comes to choosing national convention delegates, the real action is at district caucuses and state conventions. In the past, this distinction hasn’t mattered much, but for the Paul forces – who lack the numbers to win statewide primaries but have the devotion to pack any room, anywhere, at any time – it has offered an inviting loophole. When turnout is small and no one is looking, the Paul folks can win, and that’s what’s been happening in a number of states.
To Paul die-hards, this will all culminate in a surprise for the ages in Tampa, with the political world suddenly realizing that Romney actually doesn’t have the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination, thereby allowing Paul to extract major concessions or even steal the nomination for himself.