The GOP field has finally come together. After months of speculation, two “could be’s” announced that they are “not this timers.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are not running for president. This likely means the GOP field is what it is and anybody who was holding out for either of these candidates should give the current field a look. One of them could be the next president of the United States.

As noted in the AP story on GOPUSA, Christie said in a press conference, “Now is not my time.”

The famously blunt, budget-cutting governor in office not even two years had spent the past few days reconsidering his long-time refusals to run for the GOP presidential nomination in light of encouragement from GOP leaders.

“I felt the obligation to earnestly consider their advice,” Christie said. “Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought long and hard about this decision.”

Ultimately, he decided against it on Monday evening.

“I went to bed last night for the first time in the last few days knowing exactly what I wanted to do,” Christie said.

On Wednesday, Palin announced that she would not make the run.

Palin’s announcement Wednesday was much anticipated but not greatly surprising. Her popularity had plummeted in polls lately, even though she remained a darling to many hard-core conservatives. Some Republicans felt she waited and teased too long about a presidential candidacy. Some remained perplexed by her decision to quit her job as governor with more than a year left in her single term.

In Palin’s announcement to supporters, she said that she will “help coordinate strategies to assist in replacing the President, re-taking the Senate, and maintaining the House.”

Do these announcements help or hurt any candidate? Will conservatives who were holding out for Palin, now shift to Bachmann or Cain or Perry? Will Christie supporters rally behind Romney?

In the latest Fox News Poll, the GOP debates have helped shake up and reorder the field. Once firmly entrenched in the “others receiving votes” section of the results, Herman Cain is now a serious contender. The poll has Romney leading with 23% followed by Perry with 19% and Cain with 17%.

The Fox News story also reports on match-ups between Obama and a GOP candidate. “Romney tops Obama among independents by a slim 2 points. In a head-to-head matchup with Perry, Obama bests him by 8 points among all voters, and by 6 points among independents.”

I would not pay attention to the “hypothetical match-ups.” Romney currently beats Obama, because more people have heard of Romney than Perry or some of the other GOP candidates. Romney was a major contender in 2008 and thus has higher name recognition. The poll that makes more sense to study now is the Generic Presidential Ballot poll by Rasmussen Reports. In that poll a generic GOP presidential candidate beats Obama 47% to 41%.

The first primaries and caucuses are just a few months away. Has your pick changed? If you are a Palin or Christie supporter, who is your choice now. The field has a candidate for just about everyone, and hopefully the winning candidate will usher in a new era of “hope and change” by changing who occupies the White House.

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