House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is always on top of conservative dream tickets, but he has never won statewide office, his plan to change Medicare from an entitlement to a diminishing voucher is wildly unpopular among non-Republicans, and he voted for both TARP and the auto bailout.
Daniels, Christie, and Ryan are the most oft-mentioned, but they're not the only ones. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is still recovering from his 2009 turn as Kenneth the 30 Rock page in response to President Obama's State of the Union speech that year. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's last act in office was pardoning 200 prisoners, some serving terms for murder and rape—hardly the best way to endear oneself to conservatives.
Suppose even that the dream comes to pass and a deadlocked GOP convention closes with the establishment producing a Daniels or Christie or Ryan from the proverbial smoke-filled back room. As Hot Air's Ed Morrissey sketched out in the Fiscal Times last month, it's a suboptimal scenario: "Ten weeks from the election, the party would have a nominee for which no one had cast a ballot in a primary, who has raised no money, who has built no organization, and who has articulated no platform."
This would be the political equivalent of plucking an untested rookie who hasn't played baseball in months and starting him in the World Series.
In the end, conservatives will fall in line behind Romney (or Newt, or Santorum, or Ron Paul). It won't be love, so they'll rally around their uniting hatred of Barack Obama. We'll see how that plays with swing voters.