THE INEVITABILITY INCREASING LIKELIHOOD OF ROMNEY. Last week, in the wake of Giuliani's decision to effectively end his candidacy, I speculated about who was going to replace him as the front runner. Given his fundraising and the fact that he would seem to be more appealing to both moderates and conservatives than the other remaining major candidate, Romney seemed to be far and away the favorite. This was particularly true since Romney's recent conversion to reactionary cultural positions was going to look better than Giuliani's outright repudiation of them. The problem with my theory was that his actual popularity among Republican primary voters wasn't strong. Well, that seems to be turning around in the crucial Iowa primary, and my guess continues to be that this trend will continue.

I also agree with Matt that this is not necessarily irrational. Primary voters, indeed, are smart not to commit the George Wallace fallacy by trying to figure out what politicians "really think." What matters is what they'll do, and Romney will functionally support the forced-pregnancy lobby (signing any legislation that passes, putting Federalist Society hacks in the federal courts, etc.) as president irrespective of his "real" personal feelings on the issue.

-- Scott Lemieux

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