The Drudge primary has begun, and Mitt Romney is winning.

The former governor of Massachusetts may be the punching bag of the conservative media, ridiculed on blogs and talk radio as a Plasticine, untrustworthy flip-flopper and the grandfather of the hated Obamacare.

But on the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge’s no frills but enduringly influential website, Romney is simply the front-runner (“Romney Wins N.H. Straw Poll”), the “Billion-Dollar Man” and the president’s most implacable foe (“Romney: First Thing I Would Undo Is Obamacare”).

A survey of the past 13 months of Drudge headlines found only one debatably negative reference to the 2002 Olympics CEO (“Bachmann Outraises Romney”) — and a survey of aides to his rivals found a rising level of frustration at what one described as “favoritism” by one of the most important, if also one of the quirkiest, referees.

“One of the mysteries of Drudge is how he continues to be such a mystery. Never clear how or why he leans for or against candidates. But there is a lot of behind-the-scenes, very quiet and secretive mojo that goes on,” said Mark McKinnon, who, as a top adviser to John McCain in 2008, watched with dismay as Drudge gave top billing to questions about the Arizona senator’s health.

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