I heard most of Mitt Romney’s speech earlier tonight and he sounded a lot like the reasonably appealing moderate technocrat I voted for in 2002. Certainly, much more like that guy than like the “three-legged stool” New Model Wingnut he’s been running as. Meanwhile, John Judis notes that despite Romney’s more moderate record, he actually succeeded in convincing New Hampshire voters that he was more conservative and “bested McCain only among voters who considered themselves ‘very conservative’ and were ‘enthusiastic’ about the Bush administration. In New Hampshire, these voters were a decided minority.”
If Rommey had run on his record, in short, he might have won. On the other hand, we saw in 2000 what happens in a GOP primary where moderate Republicans and independents go for John McCain — he loses to the conservative. But with Mike Huckabee in the field, it’s going to be hard for Romney to consolidate social conservatives against McCain. Of course, it also remains to be seen if Rudy Giuliani can rally his forces to any extent.