Not only did he get 16% of the GOP vote in Pennsylvania — his best showing yet in a primary — but Ron Paul has also been quietly picking up delegates to the Republican National Convention, although Republican officialdom has tried to make matters as difficult as possible for Paul delegates at county and state conventions in places like Missouri and Minnesota. The steady grassroots progress of the Paul revolutionaries has GOP insider Patrick Ruffini very worried:

Little will be decided by the delegates. Outwardly, their goal is to get Paul a speaking slot, which I imagine he’ll get, at 8:05 p.m. on Tuesday night.

But by far the biggest impact delegates can have is through floor demonstrations. In some ways, their reactions to the speeches set the tone for the convention, amplifying messages from the stage. Remember how Pat Buchanan enraptured the floor at the 1992 convention but lost the country? Or how the Texas delegates turned their backs on gay Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe in 2000? Now, imagine, Paul loyalists get 20-30% of the seats on the floor in St. Paul, controlling delegations like Missouri, with a significant presence in Minnesota, with closest promixity to the stage. Can the speakers safely voice a pro-victory message in Iraq without a significant amount of boos and catcalls? How will this look on television? And don’t forget, national conventions are also heaven for reporters trolling for off-message quotes from delegates.

Between them, Paul (16 percent) and Huckabee (11 percent) took more than one out of every four votes in the Pennsylvania Republican primary. While the focus is on Democratic disunity, these numbers suggest a startling degree of disunity in the party whose nomination is already sewn up. There’s worse news for McCain, too: according to exit polls, the majority of the Republicans who switched registration to vote in the Keystone State’s Democratic primary went for Obama. In other words, these were not Dittoheads following Limbaugh’s orders to create chaos by voting for Hil; these were actual Republicans who are drawn to Obama — presumably because they’re sick of the war, just like the rest of the country is.

Even in that bellwether Mississippi special election I flagged up on Monday, the numbers tell a sobering tale for McCain and the Bushcons. The Democrat out-polled the Republican, 49 to 46 percent, despite the NRCC spending twice as much on the race as the DCCC. (The contest heads to a run-off in May.) John Judis is about ready to write Obama’s obituary, but it’s the Republican Party that looks to be dying, even in the solid South. The only signs of life in the Grand Old Party are coming from antiwar conservatives like Ron Paul.