The term frontrunner is a total misnomer. It is a term that tends to be manipulative – convincing voters of a potential for success that does not exist.
After all, names like Cain, Bachman, Pawlenty, Perry, while once regarded as possible frontrunners over the last year, are now nowhere to be seen.
The biggest media created frontrunner, however, is Mitt Romney. Long ago, the media reported that Mitt Romney won Iowa, but it was just a straw poll that he won.
Then there was controversy over whether Santorum or Romney won Iowa, as if the few dozen votes separating them meant anything at all. It was all just an effectively meaningless straw poll.
Not until the Iowa Republican Convention on June 16 will anyone have a guess who won Iowa and not until the RNC chooses a candidate at the end of August will anyone be certain who won Iowa. At this point, it looks like Ron Paul will be the one winning Iowa.
Frontrunning candidates depend on momentum from the media combined with opponents backing down. In the face of a committed group of activists, that technique does not work.
Sometimes there is a need to buy off other campaigns – as happened with Santorum and Gingrich. It will be hard to ever find out what price was paid for the lukewarm support of those two, but something tells me that the Gingrich campaign, which ended some $5 million in debt, will magically come out of debt with little fundraising effort from Gingrich himself. That is, unless you consider the arduous work of selling himself out to Mitt Romney to be difficult. Santorum long denounced Romney as the worst of the field, but is now supporting Romney. It must feel awful to be a principled voter who once supported these men on principle only to realize they have no principles that are not for sale.
Media created frontrunners don't do well with electoral processes that are open and honest. They have little grassroots support and, therefore, must exert considerable top-down pressure over the process. This often means dirty tricks like illegally stacking the convention with Romney supporters, sending threatening letters from alleged authorities like John R. Phillippe, Jr., or sending goons like Tim Morgan. These are examples of tricks pulled in Nevada last weekend at the state convention.
When you are the frontrunner, provided that you have made enough friends, those methods allow you to combat some resistance. And usually they work. Not this time. A downside of being a popular frontrunner is that your supporters are the "easy-come, easy-go" type. You can't depend on them for much, but you can at least depend on those who vote every year to come out to the polls. If you possess the perception of being a frontrunner, some percentage of those votes will go to you.
Mitt Romney, like another bland frontrunner from Massachusetts with nice hair – John Kerry – does not inspire. He doesn't know how to inspire. While Ron Paul packs 5,000 roaring students into an arena several days a week, Romney has bland gatherings of one or two hundred people. Show me a Mitt Romney grassroots video like this one and I will consider changing my mind about Mitt Romney being incapable of inspiring. Mitt Romney is riding the "anybody-but-Obama" wave currently emanating from the Republican Party, which is helpful to a Republican candidate, but there's little real love for that candidate among most of his supporters. The man does not inspire, which means when it comes down to it, they won't be ready to perform the arduous work of becoming a national delegate for him, especially not in contentious states with open and honest delegate selection procedures.
National delegates are often party insiders and big money donors who are presented as a slate and then rubber-stamped by a state convention. Again, you will notice top-down methods of power that work for a media created-frontrunner facing no opposition within his party. But that's never strong enough to overcome an organized bottom-up movement because the dedicated and passionate supporters are more numerous in a grassroots movement than in a top-down power structure. Until he learns to inspire, Mitt Romney doesn't have a chance of amassing the delegates or the volunteer army of Ron Paul.
Accordingly, because Romney fails to inspire these most influential actors in the process, in state after state this summer, Romney's highly-touted clear path to the victory will be dashed. Ron Paul will continue picking up delegates to the RNC, who may be duty bound to vote for Romney just once, before they show their true colors as Paul supporters and go on to dominate the rest of the Republican National Convention in front of a primetime television audience and international media.
The RNC is usually a coronation for a media created frontrunner with no real opposition within his party. Not this year.