The good news is that we're finally past the "new candidate will jump in" season. The bad news is that we're now entering prime "we'll get a brokered convention" season. So as long as we keep getting these arguments, I might as well keep knocking them down. Don't worry, there won't be a deadlocked convention. Not going to happen. Really, truly.
The latest is from Howard Megdal over at Salon (via Goddard). It's based, to a large degree, on a complete misunderstanding of the latest reform to the nomination process, which claims that Republican delegates in early states will be apportioned by proportional representation. But that reform, or at least that interpretation of it, is simply a myth, as Josh Putnam has explained. Only some delegates in early states will be chosen using p.r. A lot of them will still be winner-take-all -- not by state, but by congressional district. Meglal uses Missouri as an example, but in fact only half of Missouri's delegates will be chosen by p.r.
Megdal also puts a lot of weight on the possibility that winnowing won't work this time around. Of course, that ignores the fact that the field has already been winnowed. But of the remaining candidates, only Ron Paul only has a seriously dedicated base that gives him the capacity to keep going and taking a non-trivial share of the vote after the earlier states without having any chance to win. Megdal says that "The same will be true for Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry if they stay in the race — and the latter has plenty of cash still on hand." But that's just not how it works. Bachmann, of course, has already tanked in the polls; how is she going to revive after getting drubbed in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina? As for Perry, the cash on hand helps keep him viable in Iowa, but he's going to spend it all, and won't raise a cent more unless he starts showing something for it.
One more thing. Megdal supposes that a deadlocked convention would automatically turn to a blemish-free Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or John Thune, who would exit the convention with momentum to spare and an easy path to victory. This is wrong on both counts. First of all, there are no brokers; most delegates are loyal to the candidate who they were chosen to vote for, and aren't likely to go along with the Bush or Thune plan. Chaos is a far more likely outcome.
And then, post-convention? A totally unprepared candidate chosen in a back-room deal would suddenly have to face the national press in full campaign mode. It's not impossible that could work out well, but ask Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, and others how it's worked out. Oh, if you think they were just the wrong people, look at what happened to nomination contest overnight hits such as Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann in this cycle, or a long list of others going back at least to Gary Hart in 1984 and John Anderson in 1980. About the best you can say is that it doesn't always end in complete disaster.
At any rate, it's not going to come to that. I increasingly think that the contest will be over by South Carolina, and could well be essentially decided sooner than that, but regardless of that there's just nothing at all so far in this cycle to indicate that there's a reasonable chance of a deadlocked convention.