Christie's still the frontrunner

Our case for Christie as frontrunner — or, maybe, more accurately first among almost-equals — is built around the idea that there is no perfect/electable conservative in the race and that Christie has a decent chance of beating out Jindal, Rubio and Walker in the battle to be the establishment candidate. (There is a whole other primary — where Rand Paul is the frontrunner — that will pick the outsider candidate to battle the establishment pick.) Of that quartet of credible establishment conservatives, Christie is the one who, at first glance, could most easily put together the tens (and probably hundreds) of millions needed to run real operations in a series of states in short order. Christie has been — and remains — the pick of the Wall Street/business crowd (Home Depot founder Ken Langone is hosting an event for him this weekend in Florida), and has spent his entire governorship building relationships with that powerful New York money crowd. (Another fight, with an as-yet-to-be-determined winner is for the Texas GOP money set.) Money isn’t everything in the race. (Right, President Giuliani?) But, the way that Romney and, ultimately, McCain won the 2012 and 2008 nominations, respectively, was to bleed dry their underfunded challengers. Being the fundraising frontrunner allows you the chance to slip and recover — something candidates with less money simply can’t do.

Christie also would seem to have the most obvious early win of those four candidates. (As Giuliani’s doomed 2008 bid proved, you have to win one of the first three states — Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina — to realistically have a chance at the nomination.) None of the four is a natural fit for the social conservatives of Iowa but Christie’s fiscal conservatism and brashness would seem to be a perfect fit for the New Hampshire primary. (Christie, tonally, reminds us of McCain, who won the New Hampshire primaries in each of his two presidential bids.)