Rumors circulated this week that South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, a leading member of the conservative Senate Tea Party Caucus, would back Romney as he did four years ago. His spokesman has denied any willingness from DeMint to do so yet; however, according to Sides, a DeMint endorsement would be a telling sign that Romney will earn the nomination.
Sides also says that conservative media figures, like Fox News' Sean Hannity, or radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, would be important endorsements for Romney to earn. "If people like DeMint and Hannity are willing to get on board, that's a signal," he says. "The more you can get endorsements from across the broader spectrum of the party, the more likely you are to be that unifying candidate."