Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
This is not a prediction, projection or prophecy, and certainly not a wish. It is the conclusion most Republican voters arrived at several months ago when they realized the few men who might defeat him were not going to enter the race.
What percentage of Republicans really want Newt Gingrich to be the next president?
What percentage of Republicans really want Rick Santorum?
Ron Paul has been gathering support for about 25 years and may have about 15% actively championing his election.
Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain never reached 10%.
Rick Perry, as the obvious choice in the south, could have won up to 17 states in the primaries if he hadn't stumbled. In a three-way race that would be enough to guarantee that no one could win without his delegates.
With him out of the way, no one can really beat Mitt Romney throughout the primary season.
There is however a protest vote that appears when a winner seems inevitable and it consists of people who will be perfectly content to vote for Romney in November, but want him to be less like Mitt Romney by then.
The last time the protest vote was a factor was in 1992. Not many people wanted Pat Buchanan to be president, but they wanted George H. W. Bush to be less like Bush, so Buchanan won the New Hampshire primary.
Bush took it badly. He began aggressively campaigning and won the nomination easily without changing. He assumed he could defeat the upstart Bill Clinton and failed to anticipate a protest vote in the general election. That protest vote found a face in Ross Perot, a man with a small following to accompany it, and Bush lost.
In 2000 Buchanan ran in the general election and we discovered that less than l% of the people wanted him to be president.
Many of 1992's protesters are protesting Romney now.
When they were polled last fall, they chose the candidate least likely to win, so Bachmann and Cain got big numbers.
When it was time to really vote however Romney got a win and a tie and remained unchanged.
The protesters had to choose a candidate. They picked Gingrich because of his home field advantage in South Carolina and Florida.
There was a problem though. He started acting and talking like a frontrunner. They didn't want that, so Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado went to Santorum. Maine, more thoughtful, almost went to Ron Paul, a man who won't be called a frontrunner until he wins the nomination.
So far, Romney has only changed for the worst, attacking Gingrich and now Santorum.
Soon he will begin to win most states and gain the nomination, but please Mitt, be less like Mitt.