For months, Mitt Romney has tried to convince conservative activists that while he may not be their dream candidate, he would be the most electable Republican in a general election against President Obama.

 Romney usually leaves it to his campaign aides and surrogates to make the electability argument, but on Wednesday he made his case in his most direct way yet. Romney, who is nothing if not a lover of data, cited recent public polls to press his case.

 “The only Republican who is currently showing a tie or occasionally a victory relative to the president is me,” Romney said during a town hall-style conference call with a few thousand Iowa Republicans on Wednesday.

 “I’ve been able to attract a larger degree of support from independent voters than have my other Republican colleagues,” Romney said, adding: “This may sound a little overconfident, but I honestly believe I’m the only guy on the stage who has a real good chance of defeating President Obama.”

 Romney’s newest major endorser, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), joined the former Massachusetts governor on the call and seconded his analysis.

 “He, in my view, is the most electable person we have,” Thune said. “He’s got the resources, the organization, he has been fully vetted, he’s been tested on the national stage.”