By the time 2016 rolls around Obama might have increased that number significantly.
The party would dissuade him, regardless.
It is a foregone conclusion that the GOP will nominate somebody who is even more unelectable than Romney by diving into even deeper extremist waters. It will be Palin or Santorum or Issa, some freakishly unelectable creature. Once you turn the rightwing noise machine on, you can't turn it off.
It won't be Palin, it probably will not be Santorum. Romney was largely a moderate, northeastern Republican that perceived he had to pander to the Tea Party crowd. It was unfortunate, but I think it was necessary for the election at the time. Some of his elitist remarks were ill-advised to say the least, but he also did not fight back enough to show that the rich and powerful in the country make good leaders. I still preferred Romney to the populist wing of the Republican Party, which was why I voted for him.
This analysis is regrettably spot on. Romney was a decent moderate politician through most of his career. He could have won the election if he had run as the Romney who passed Romneycare. The fact that he had to lurch to the knownothing right to pander to the tea party elements (which Rove foolishly invited into the party to win a few elections) clearly lost him the election, and demonstrates how the tea party, like a golem, is destroying its own creator (something Rove is now painfully aware since he spends most of his time attacking the Palins of the world). Which of course I'm not crying any tears over. Conservatism basically signed its own demographic death warrant when it made its deal with the knownothing tea party types.
But as to Palin, I disagree. I think by 2016 the GOP will be so marginal and so extreme that she is the most likely candidate. She is the quintessence of tea party subliteracy, which is the litmus test for the next nominee.