First, Romney's 'departure' eliminates one of the three contenders for support by the business (establishment) wing of the Republican Party donor class. It appears from news reports that one of Romney's main considerations was whether he could lock in the financial support of many of his biggest contributors from 2011-12, some of whom wanted to support a 'fresher' face in the upcoming campaign. Jeb Bush seems to be in the best position to capitalize on Romney's exit as he and Romney's fundraising list shared some 40+ zip codes loaded with wealthy donors. The Bush fundraising machine is in high gear and it will be interesting to see what the numbers look like when he has to start reporting them.
Second, Romney's declination to run opens a window for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to make a serious bid for the nomination. Like Romney and Bush, Christie should get a lot of support from the business community and its wealthiest members. A big unknown, however, is what impact the numerous mini-scandals (Bridgegate and the like) will have on Christie's appeal outside of NY and NJ. It is unlikely his brash northeastern attitude will play well in some parts of the country that are used to politics that are more refined than what we typically witness in New Jersey. If Christie is able to raise the $50 million or so it will take to run a decent race for the nomination heading towards Iowa and New Hampshire next January, it could set up an interesting battle between he and former Florida Governor Bush.
Third, Romney's decision not to enter the race is likely good news for another group of second tier candidates who might have struggled to raise the necessary funds to be competitive and generate name recognition. At the top of this list are two names that will be competing for much of the same space on the political spectrum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Both have struggled to generate much excitement from the Republican establishment so far, though Walker's speech at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Summit was apparently a big hit with the crowd.