Erick Erickson this week suggested he’s “praying” for a brokered Republican convention, so that some other GOP candidate — as opposed to those currently running — might win the party’s presidential nomination. Joe Scarborough said in response, “I don’t know many Republicans who aren’t praying for a brokered convention right now.” (thanks to F.B. for the tip)

Though he doesn’t specifically reference the brokered possibility, Rhodes Cook argues today that it’s not “too late” for some other “late-starting candidate to emerge” in the new year. Bill Kristol seems excited about the possibility.

It wouldn’t be easy to pull off a late draft or a late entry, but it’s not as impossible as conventional wisdom assumes.

The key, I think, would be if both Romney and Gingrich stumbled during January. If that were to happen, there would be a window of opportunity in February — during the gap between the first spurt of January primaries and Super Tuesday on March 6. The window probably closes around Valentine’s Day — Tuesday, February 14 — so let’s call the late entry the Valentine’s Day option. That could be the last chance (unless there’s a deadlocked convention, which isn’t totally outside the realm of possibility either) for Republicans to throw off the old suitors and run into the arms of a new Prince Charming. Or two. And Valentine’s Day is for the young.

So … why not the best? Ryan-Rubio 2012?

First, this really should be humiliating for the Republican Party. They’ve been planning to take on President Obama for three years, and as of last week, had at least eight candidates to choose from (more if you include guys like Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson). And yet, just 26 days before the Iowa caucuses, leading GOP voices are still trying to figure out how to get a better candidate nominated.

Second, the party should probably give up hope now of a brokered convention, at which a white knight can come save the party. It’s “not going to happen.”

And just as an aside, I can’t help but wonder how Mitt Romney, who’s been running practically non-stop for five years, feels about all of this.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.