It's still hard to see a scenario where Romney doesn't have the nomination wrapped up by June (if not earlier), given his advantages in money and establishment support. (Note that I did not say delegates: His actual delegate lead, either real or projected is still relatively small compared to the overall total, and could be easily overcome with some well-placed Santorum victories). But if it's not wrapped up by June, then all the delegate rules come into play, and if you thought Florida and Michigan were a mess in 2008, try dozens of states under the microscope in 2012:
But the uncertainty and volatility of the Republican contest has led to detailed talk of either a “brokered” convention, or simply a “contested” one, in which the GOP nominee isn’t even close to being settled by the time Republicans convene in Tampa in August. The last time the GOP race was unsettled at convention time was in 1976.
Chatter is already taking place among GOP insiders about how to handle complications such as faithless delegates.
There are roughly 30 states and territories where delegates aren’t bound to a particular candidate. The majority of the other states, according to a number of party officials, call for delegates to be bound for a first round of balloting, but not the ensuing rounds.
“The dirty little secret is: at the end of the day, these guys and gals can vote any way they want,” said a Republican who has attended national conventions for decades. “Each state has different (laws) on pledged delegates.”
Earlier this year, a group of GOP Washington lawyers began to meet privately to review party rules passed following the epic 1976 nomination battle between President Ford and Ronald Reagan
If one of these nightmarish scenarios materializes, Republicans believe the party will eventually need to appoint either a senior statesman in the mold of former Secretary of State James Baker to oversee the convention, or find a rules maven who can be an honest broker when it comes to credentials. One such name already being floated: Billy Pitts, a respected former congressional aide well-versed in parliamentary procedure from decades working for former House GOP leader Bob Michel and more recently as the staff director of the House Rules Committee.
“I’ve never been to a brokered convention,” said David Norcross, an RNC member from New Jersey who is neutral in the primary. “There hasn’t been a brokered convention in my lifetime…if this does get to, say, August with no clear winner, you can look for a fight in the convention Credentials Committee for who has how many delegates.”