The Republican leadership contest has provided plenty of drama, and as candidates battle state-by-state for delegates, imagine this scenario: when all primaries and caucuses are finished in June, no candidate will have emerged with a majority of delegates.
GOP candidates are emerging as regional players, and if the trend continues – along with so many other factors – there is a slim chance that the contest won't be decided until August, when the party holds its national convention in Florida.
"If this split continues – Romney in the West and Northeast, Gingrich in the South, and Santorum in the Midwest – we could easily find ourselves in a scenario where no candidate crosses the 1,144-delegate threshold by the time voting ends," writes Sean Trende, senior elections analyst at RealClearPolitics.
And so the GOP contest would go to the Republican party's August national convention in Tampa Bay in what would be the party's second brokered convention in 40 years. The last one was in 1976 when neither Gerald Ford nor Ronald Reagan had won a majority of delegates.
And maybe 'brokered' is not the right word for such a convention in 2012.
As a former GOP governor explains to Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who served in the Reagan administration: "By the way, don't call it a brokered convention. That's what the media and the Democrats will call it because it implies there are brokers. Call it a contested convention because that's what it will be, contested."
The former governor said the odds were slim, "But they're probably the best in my lifetime."