Today, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has announced he is ending his bid for the Republican Presidential Nomination. This changes the race for President in numerous ways.
1) Republican Nomination: The race has totally changed. Only two candidates have any real chance at winning the nomination. For Republican votes, the choice is between a moderate Republican (John McCain) and a Social Moderate Conservative, Fiscal Liberal (Mike Huckabee). Huckabee did not do bad on Super Tuesday. Huckabee won 5 states on Super Tuesday (6 overall). McCain won 9 states on Super Tuesday (12 overall). While McCain is the likely nominee, Huckabee could make the road very difficult. I am unsure if Huckabee can truely fill the "anti-McCain" shoes of Mitt Romney. This "lack" of choices while alienate many voters and force other to pick a candidate who does not stand for their beliefs (similar to Dole in 1996, Ford in 1976). This election will change the Republican party one way or another, causing it to be more or less Conservative in the long run.
2) Democrats: Romney was the candidate who Democrats attacked and spoke the most ill of. He also was the candidate who had the strongest contrast on issues with the Democratic Presidential Candidates. The same cannot be said about McCain and Huckabee. McCain and Hillary Clinton have similar voting records and positions on several issues (Education, Bush's Tax Cuts, Illegal Immigration, Veteran's Benefits, etc.) Huckabee, while staunchly Pro-Life, is against school vouchers, is not very conservative in his fiscal policies, and his socialistic approach to get America "healthy" (National Smoking Ban, Limiting what children eat at school, taking away health care/benefits from those over a certain weight). Sure, McCain is a seasoned politician and Huckabee is funny, but they lack the charisma (Obama) and political machinary (Clinton) of the Democrats. The lines are also more blurred now so whoever the Democratic Candidate is must be able to seperate himself from their opponent while grabbing votes from the moderate Republican ranks who "dislike" the Republican Candidate. Obama could probably do a better job at than than Hillary, but she may appear more "tolerable" than Obama on certain issues to some moderates (Foreign Policy and Health Care).
On top of all this, there is already discussion about another Presidential bid for Romney in 2012. This would only work if Romney continues to stay active in the public eye. But this leaves the 2008 Presidential election in a quagmire because there are no "sure" choices, but flavors. Instead of making a decission between Pizza or Cheesesteaks for dinner, we are making a choice between Pizza toppings, but still getting pizza. Th race will only get more rediculous if New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg enters the race as an independent candidate. The only choice between him and the current candidates (if I may continue with the pizza analogy) is that he is white pizza compared to the others. Its still pizza.