Newt Gingrich believes he can still thwart a Mitt Romney candidacy by forcing a brokered convention, but renewed focus on a simple Republican National Committee rule is a reminder of how unlikely that scenario would be.
Gingrich has only notched two first places finishes so far in the nominating calendar, which means that if he makes it to the convention without collecting a majority of delegates in three more states, he will fail to meet the five-state threshold required to qualify for the first ballot. This is according to RNC Rule No. 40, which states:
"Each candidate for nomination for the president of the United States and vice president of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a plurality of delegates from each of five (5) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination." That doesn’t ruin his chances, his supporters say, because a motion can still be made in subsequent rounds of voting to add his name back into the mix. All that would be needed is for the candidate to collect enough unbound delegates (more and more free up with each voting round) to demonstrate he has a majority of their support in five states.
Should the Republican National Convention turn into a brokered convention, their reasoning goes, then the issue of who arrived at the convention as the delegate front-runner will matter less and less with each subsequent ballot.
Based on this reasoning, anyone can win on later ballots, including those who have won zero states or delegates.
In the event that Romney fails to lock up the nomination after the first ballot and Tampa becomes a brokered convention, without five states, Gingrich has no better stature numbers-wise than anyone else in further rounds of voting.