Continued from page 1

Mr. Gingrich would need a plurality of delegates from each of five different states just to qualify for a place on the first ballot of a deadlocked convention at which no candidate had the requisite 1,144 delegates for nomination. In 13 states and territories, delegates are not bound to vote for any candidate, even on the first ballot.

If the fight moved to a second ballot, anybody could walk in from the outside to become an instant competitor, even if he or she had not participated in a single GOP nomination primary.

So GOP stars such as New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie and Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio could stride into the convention hall and theoretically wind up as the party’s nominee to face President Obama on Nov. 6.