- Rudy Giuliani -- president, Giuliani Partners -- 34%
- John McCain -- U.S. senator -- 22%
- Newt Gingrich -- author & think-tank chairman -- 15%
- Mitt Romney -- governor -- 3%
- Duncan Hunter -- U.S. congressman -- 2%
- Sam Brownback -- U.S. senator -- 1%
- Mike Huckabee -- governor -- 0%
- Chuck Hagel -- U.S. senator -- 0%
Notice on the list above how two of the top three candidates are not currently politicians. The other, McCain, casts himself as a "maverick" who cuts against the political grain.
Mitt Romney serves as an example of the converse. A pro-lifer who turned pro-choice in time for a run for office in Massachusetts only to later tack back toward pro-life in time for a run at national office, Romney won't find much a reception with culturally conservative audiences should they feel they're merely being pandered to. An elected representative is only as good as his word, and Romney's is roughly the current market value for that of your average American politician -- near worthless.
Conservatives seek principled leaders so they know what to expect. But politicians, by their very nature, are unpredictable. Little surprise then who's currently leading.