Let’s start the day off with this:

Romney has won 56% of the delegates awarded so far, and needs to garner 47% of the remaining delegates to reach the magic number, according to a USA TODAY analysis of delegate counts provided by the Associated Press.

His challengers have a higher bar: Rick Santorum would need 63% of the remaining delegates. Newt Gingrich needs 67%. And Ron Paul needs 71%.

What does that tell you? It should tell you that Mitt Romney is the only candidate with a realistic chance of winning the majority of the delegates. It should also tell you that he is far from assured of being able to do so. The other candidates know these two facts. They know that they are no longer fighting to win the majority of the delegates but, rather, to create a brokered convention in Tampa.

It’s too early to tell if they will succeed, but I want to remind you that I was one of the first people (3/14/11) to point out that a brokered convention was a strong possibility and to tell you exactly how it might come about.

…I could foresee the possibility of a brokered GOP convention where the delegates would have to bicker among themselves to come up with presidential and vice-presidential candidates. I said that it was quite likely that the Republican primary voters would settle on someone in Iowa only to reject them in New Hampshire. And then both of those candidates would be rejected in South Carolina. And the pattern would keep repeating itself…

This is why I can still see a brokered convention. As soon as one candidate gets the upper hand, everyone has to actually picture that candidate as president. And it gives them the heebie-jeebies, so they reject that candidate in favor of someone else. If this cycle repeats itself long enough, no one will emerge with the majority of the delegates. It’s like a M.C. Escher drawing of infinite relativity. They will never arrive at a nominee.

If I am right, Romney will make many runs on locking down the nomination, but every time he has a chance he will be rebuffed in favor of a new flavor of the month. He’ll almost certainly accrue the most delegates, but will he ever accrue more than half of them? – (9/24/11)

Also, see Don’t Count Out a Brokered Convention from 12/9/11. So, if it happens, you can all pat me on the back for being the smartest bastard on the internets, okay?

Even Sarah Palin is talking up a brokered convention, and she won’t rule out accepting the nomination on a second, third, or fiftieth ballot.

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney can’t seem to dodge the gun-toting Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, who blasted holes through the Bay State governor’s carefully constructed shield of invincibility last night when she raised the possibility of a brokered convention.

“She always rains on his parade,” said Chip Felkel, a Republican strategist from South Carolina. He added that when it comes to Republican voters, “She’s like the bad girlfriend who doesn’t want to date you anymore, but doesn’t want you dating anyone else either.”

Spokesmen for Santorum and Gingrich himself have indicated that the strategy is for a floor-fight in Tampa.

What does this mean? It means that there won’t be any rallying around the nominee. It means that Romney will be savaged for the next couple of months and perhaps for the whole spring and summer. It means that Romney will have to win a majority of delegates the hard way, by fighting in every state.

I think we’re about to take another ride on the merry-go-round. Gingrich, left for dead after Super Tuesday, will win in Alabama and Mississippi (and, perhaps, Louisiana). And then he will subside for two months as Santorum and Romney duke it out, only to reemerge in May to fight for delegates in Arkansas and Texas.

Most Establishment types think that it’s disloyal to try to force a brokered convention. Expect them to become increasingly shrill.