The RNC ruling on Florida underscores the party’s problem. As amended in 2010, Rule 15 (b) (2) prohibits in no uncertain terms early winner-take-all contests: “Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.”

Florida’s delegates may well be challenged, triggering a wider review of use of winner-take-all rules, given Rule 38. Consider, then, Republican convention delegates elected in a winner-take-all state. If determining that the winner was strongly opposed by most voters in that state — as easily can happen with plurality voting — those delegates may decide to support a different candidate.

These delegates’ decision might be all the easier if it’s clear that key nomination contests were affected by non-Republicans voting in open primary states. Although centrist pundits often applaud open primaries for giving independent voters greater power to influence party nominations, that goal is in direct conflict with party supporters who seek a truly representative nominee for their party. It’s their party’s nomination contest, after all, and many Republican activists want to win the White House with a candidate who will be true to party principles…

While Romney is far ahead in New Hampshire, many Republicans will see that contest as tainted. New England Republicanism represents a declining stock in the national party, and non-Republican voters can swing the vote. Gaining the nomination based on a low-plurality win in Florida and narrow victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina grounded in votes from non-Republicans may not be enough to persuade delegates to ignore party rules.