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Who benefits from Chris Christie's decision to opt out?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decided not to run for president – a decision that appears to solidify the Republican field. But in whose favor? Candidates are now jockeying for position.

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Perry has also been losing ground in the Gallup poll’s measure of “positive intensity” – the difference between the percentage of voters who view a candidate favorably and those who view him or her negatively, among voters who are familiar with the candidate. Perry has dropped to 15, down from 25 a month ago. Cain’s positive intensity has jumped to 30, though he is less widely known than Perry and Romney. Romney is slightly better known than Perry and has a slightly lower positive intensity.

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The Post-ABC poll may give some clues as to how the absence of Christie affects the race. With Christie running hypothetically (and without Ms. Palin), he got 11 percent, Romney got 22 percent, Perry got 15 percent, and Cain got 14 percent. Without Christie or Palin, Romney got 25 percent, and Perry and Cain tied at 16 percent. So everyone gained a little bit by the absence of Christie – but Romney gained the most.

And now the “Chris Christie primary” has started. The New Jersey governor did not endorse anybody for president in his announcement Tuesday, so the race is on to woo him. At press time, Perry had put out a statement but Romney had not.

“Chris Christie is a friend, a great governor, and rising star in the Republican Party,” said Perry. “I'm sure this was an exciting and stressful process for Chris, Mary Pat, and his family, but I know they have a bright, successful future ahead of them. Gov. Christie will be a strong asset for the Republican Party as we work to build a national movement to get America working again, reduce the influence of Washington in our lives, and defeat President Obama next year.”

The campaign of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, mired in low single digits, also offered a bouquet to Christie.

"Governor Christie is a tremendous public servant who will be a force in Republican politics for years to come,” said Huntsman campaign manager Matt David in a statement. “Though he will not be entering the presidential race, his message of reforming government and restoring American exceptionalism will not be lost.”

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