More Conservative Field Makes Mitt Seem More Moderate

(Image Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

ABC News contributor Cokie Roberts reports:

As Mitt Romney looks at the Michigan electorate tomorrow it's clear that his problem is not the voters as much as his opponents.

In 2008 no one accused him of being a "Massachusetts moderate" because compared to his opponents he was one of the more conservative candidates.

We've been talking a lot this year about how the Republican electorate has moved to the right, and we've certainly seen Republican incumbents fighting for their lives in House and Senate seats, but the exit polls in the contests so far don't show much of a shift in self-identified ideology, though there's a slight uptick in the percentage of voters who call themselves "very conservative" - and in Florida, a statistically significant increase of those very conservative voters (and Newt Gingrich won those very conservative voters) - by and large this electorate looks very similar to the one four years ago.

But then Mitt Romney had Rudy Giuliani and John McCain outflanking him on the left, at least in voters' perceptions, so that in Michigan those self-identified moderate Republicans went for McCain four years ago. And Mitt Romney now quotes his toughest opponent, Rick Santorum, saying that Romney was the conservative candidate in 2008.

It turns out he was right, at least in the minds of Michigan voters.

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