Peggy Noonan: GOP voters on the ground don't want to pick anyone the moderate Democrat down the block wouldn't support.
The GOP field is sorting itself out, which is to be expected. What's surprising is that so are Republican voters. The early rise of Mitt Romney, the second-place showing of Jon Huntsman (behind Ron Paul) at the recent Republican Leadership Conference, and a Gallup poll last week saying 50% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican favor the candidate with the best chance of beating President Obama, suggests GOP voters on the ground don't want to pick anyone the moderate Democrat down the block wouldn't support.
It's still early, but that makes it even more interesting. It's at this point in a presidential race that obstreperous and passionate movements and candidacies would normally be rising. It's later and with time that a certain soberness, a certain inherent moderation normally take hold. But Republicans at the moment seem prematurely settled, even as they watch, judge and figure out whom to support.
Mitch Daniels was knocked for calling for a social issues truce some months ago, but only because he put a name on what is happening anyway. There is an informal truce on social issues in the GOP, but no one likes hearing potential leaders mention it, because then the other leaders have to take a side. But almost everyone in the party is focused now on economic issues, in part because a strong economy fosters everything else, including American compassion.