The Corner

Dark-Horse Possibilities

Ross Douthat lauds Bill Kristol for keeping the hope of a dark-horse candidacy alive. Last week, Kristol floated another trial balloon for Mitch Daniels by writing a parody of Daniels’s response to the State of the Union address, in which the governor announces his surprise candidacy.

“Kristol deserves credit for demanding better, long after the rest of us have given up,” Ross writes, though “the scenario he’s seeking almost certainly won’t happen.”

He’s right; it won’t. Unless . . .

Unless a last-minute candidate enters the race and wins enough delegates to prevent a winner on the first ballot. Remember, a candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the nomination, and the three contests so far have determined the fates of only 65 delegates. (Even those 65 are iffy: Iowa’s delegates, for instance, aren’t bound, and South Carolina’s are bound for only one ballot.)

The rub is that ballot-filing deadlines have passed in 19 other states and territories. Others, meanwhile, have finalized their ballots already. Still, the chronic optimist might note that filing deadlines in 16 states haven’t passed, and they control 882 delegates. (Added to this pile is Texas, which by court order cannot close its filing period until February 1.)

Only five of the remaining deadlines (Texas, West Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) occur before March 1, while eight of them occur that month. That leaves time, though not much, for a candidate to mobilize forces. If conservatives are calling Mitch Daniels — or any other candidate — they better hope he (or she) picks up soon.

But don’t bet on it.


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