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Why Ron Paul's fans are still amassing delegates

The delegate math makes it virtually impossible for Texas congressman Ron Paul to win the Republican presidential nomination. But his supporters keep pressing for delegates in hopes of influencing the GOP's convention.

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Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas speaks at the University of California at Berkeley, Calif. in April.

Ben Margot/AP

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They jeer at the idea of coalescing behind Mitt Romney. They're still scraping for every possible delegate. And they hold out hope that Ron Paul could win the presidency this year.

By just watching Paul's loyal supporters, you'd never know that the Republican presidential contest is over.

Given that the delegate math makes it virtually impossible for the Texas congressman to win the nomination, it seems quixotic for his libertarian-leaning backers to continue their crusade. Here's a primer on what's going on among Paul's disciples and why they haven't given up:

DIDN'T ROMNEY WIN THE NOMINATION?

Yes, Romney has already won enough delegates (far surpassing the 1,144 needed) to formally secure the GOP nomination at the convention in August. Along with five delegates he won in Washington on Friday, Paul now has about 140 pledged to him β€” less than Rick Santorum, who already dropped out of the race. Many Paul supporters are unwilling to concede, however, and a few say the media has conspired to make Romney the presumptive winner. They booed on Friday when Romney's son, Josh, implored them to unite in support of the assumed candidate. Some Paul backers are still holding out hope that he could become the Republican nominee.

HONESTLY, IS THERE ANY POSSIBLE WAY FOR PAUL TO WIN?

Most Paul loyalists acknowledge that delegates bound to vote for Romney at the national convention would have to break their pledges en masse in order for Paul to win β€” a development that borders on inconceivable. It would mean that delegates, many of whom are GOP activists who have backed Romney for a long time, would take repercussions from the party for violating the rules of the process and then throw their support behind Paul instead of another alternative. Matt Dubin, a Paul delegate and organizer in Washington State, said it was both unlikely and something he is not advocating. Still, he said, it's something he would like to see happen. If that turmoil somehow occurred, Paul would also likely have to recruit disgruntled supporters of Santorum and Newt Gingrich to back him.

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