Comment: Though I agree with much of what the OP says...

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Though I agree with much of what the OP says... doesn't follow that RP *couldn't* have won. The OP lists several significant obstacles, yet there is no reason to suppose it would have been *impossible* to overcome them: difficult, yes, but not impossible.

IMO, had RP won the nomination, he would have easily won the general election. For some of the reasons the OP cites, the masses of GOPers would have voted for *anyone* with an (R) next to his name, including RP. In other words, RP would have had Romney's base. But, in addition, RP would have had us, which Romney didn't, and would have drawn many more independents and Dems than Romney did.

A general point: don't forget how MASSIVE a prize the nomination is. It comes with literally billions of dollars worth of free advertizing (in the form of several hours per day of media coverage for months), and the automatic loyalty of tens of millions of sheep.

...and remember how close RP actually came to winning the nomination. RP nearly won IA, with liberty-friendly NH up next...what would have happened if he had? As all observers should have noticed, the primary was *all* about momentum. The only reason anyone could offer that Romney *should* win was that they were sure he *would* win.

It was a damn near run thing.

2016's gonna be even better. ;-)

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."