The big winner after Chris Christie's decision not to enter the presidential race is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He is expected by GOP strategists to remain the front runner in the polls as the establishment candidate, with all the more conservative challengers trailing behind him and attempting to tear each other down in the process. All this will become increasingly clear when the GOP presidential debates resume this month.
Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's GOP presidential campaign in 2008, says big donors will now start moving to Romney, a big advantage for him. Schmidt was correct when he told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that the GOP race will now focus on "who's going to be the conservative alternative to Romney....You're going to see a very vigorous contest on the right" among Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Other candidates who will be attempting to get traction are Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, and former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico.
What makes things better for Romney is that none of these alternatives has caught on, and they are expected to battle each other for the opportunity to be the main alternative to Romney.
Of course, Romney hasn't caught on either. His polling numbers aren't impressive, but he now has a golden opportunity to extend his narrow lead.