WORST BUDDY COMEDY EVER
If the "Santorum is more popular but Romney wins the nomination" scenario envisioned by Jonathan Bernstein plays out, it has the potential to make McGovern-Eagleton look like a minor stumble -- and to be utterly hilarious if you're not a Republican:
... Santorum's campaign [is] badly lagging in organization. This could mean he doesn't reap all the delegates that might be his due.... In most GOP caucus states, the voting is not strictly connected to delegate selection. If Santorum's voters don’t understand the procedures, it's very possible he could win the vote and yet pick up only a handful of delegates. Indeed, that may have already happened in caucus states he's won, like Iowa, Colorado, and Minnesota.
... Romney will apparently win Arizona's winner-take-all primary even if Santorum does hang on for a Michigan win, where the delegates are apportioned in a complex mix of rules. It's very possible that Romney and Santorum could split the two states, giving Santorum great headlines, while Romney cleans up in delegates.
... the popularity contest could leave Santorum as the clear, unambiguous winner, while Romney becomes the clear, unambiguous nominee. Imagine Santorum finishing with a five point edge or more in votes -- even as Romney gets crowned the GOP candidate for president.
If that happens, it's hard to see rank-and-file Republicans accepting the outcome as legitimate....
Yikes. And it's easy to imagine Mitt the Machine trying to argue that the math requires everyone to just accept his victory -- even as the inflamed right-wing mobs are howling for his head.
At that point, I think the party elders would put the proverbial horse's head in his bed and force him to accept the only solution that could possibly mollify the base: Rick Santorum as the #2 on the ticket. (In fact, Mitt hasn't ruled A Romney/Santorum ticket out.)
Now, the world of politics seems to be divided into three camps: people who think Santorum is an awful candidate, people who think Romney is a worse candidate than Santorum (hey, it's not just me -- BooMan thinks Romney is worse), and people who can't agree on which one is more awful. But if this scenario pans out, I think -- under extreme duress, and after much intra-party brawling -- we're going to get two for the price of one.
Can you contain your excitement?