Poll: Plurality prefers Christie to Palin or Jeb Bush as dark-horse nominee

Worth blogging for two reasons. One: I need to make a correction. Contra my earlier posts, Palin vs. Bush at the convention would not in fact be the greatest blog story ever. Palin vs. Christie, which would be ten times as nasty, would be the greatest blog story ever. Forget the delegate count and backroom maneuvering; just imagine the war of words between them and their supporters. Traffic apocalypse.

Two: My sense is that Daniels is the likeliest of all potential candidates to jump in if we do end up deadlocked at the convention. One of his top advisors said a few days ago that people are practically pounding down his door demanding that he run and his pal Haley Barbour told National Review just yesterday that it’s “highly unlikely but it could happen,” a sentiment with which Jim DeMint agrees. Which brings us to the poll: According to Quinnipiac, Daniels is … the least desired of the four would-be nominees they asked about.

Daniels finishes fourth out of four in every demographic except tea partiers and Republicans who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, where he finishes a few points ahead of Jeb Bush. That’ll weigh heavily on party brokers if/when the time comes to nudge a consensus candidate into the race. The only way to overcome the chaos of a brokered convention and the disorganization of the eventual nominee is to find someone who can instantly energize the base while exciting independents. Daniels would probably do fine with the latter but he’s fourth on the depth chart with the former, and might have been fifth had Paul Ryan’s name been included here. Christie, who leads among conservatives and leads big among moderates, would be the obvious first choice, especially since he’s likely to scoop up plenty of Romney delegates due to his affiliation with the campaign. The question is, if the convention did deadlock, would a deal be struck behind the scenes so that only one candidate (i.e. Christie) stepped forward as a consensus choice, with his/her nomination a fait accompli, or would it be a free-for-all where two or more candidates suddenly offered themselves for consideration after the first ballot went nowhere? That’s the party’s true nightmare, I think — a contentious primary battle between three candidates ends in a stalemate, whereupon a batch of new candidates emerge and … end up in a stalemate themselves. But then, that’s why party brokers are looking for someone who can appeal to the right and to the center from the word go. If it’s Daniels, who really can’t do that, the temptation for a tea-party dark horse like Palin to jump in will be greater since there’s room to his right and then you end up with another melee.

All of this assumes, of course, that the GOP will still have some chance of winning in September. If not, then the dreaded “who do you want to lose with?” strategy goes into effect and all bets are off. Via Mediaite, here’s Palin on Hannity last night sounding A-OK with the idea of an unsettled convention. Exit question via Zombie: Is it time to put Operation Equilibrium into effect?