A new Republican frontrunner?

For some time, Rudy Giuliani has justifably been considered the Republican frontrunner, though not a terribly convincing one. As Giuliani continues to slip slowly in the polls, I’m beginning to think that Mitt Romney can now claim this (perhaps dubious) distinction.
That’s because Romney is looking more and more like the choice of mainstream conservatives. The best evidence is the National Review endorsement. As John noted, while endorsements generally aren’t worth much, this one has value. More importantly, National Review’s analysis may well exemplify (rather than influence) the thinking of a critical mass of conservatives. In the past month or two, a number of my most conservative friends have come around to supporting Romney for basically the same reasons National Review cited. Today, we learn that the estimable Michael Novak has, as well.
Romney would have sealed the deal with mainstream conservatives much earlier, but for the moderate to liberal positions he took on key social issues as a Massachusetts politician. When those positions came to light, many conservatives backed off, waiting for an alternative. Some evangelicals eventually found that alternative in Mike Huckabee. I’m thinking that a majority of conservatives as a whole are going to bite the bullet and go with Romney (personally, I’m still undecided).
It’s a bit counter-intuitive suddenly to view Romney as the frontrunner, just as Iowa may be slipping away from him. If time permits, later today I’ll offer a scenario under which Romney loses Iowa, but wins the nomination.
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