Haley Barbour's surprise exit from the field of Republican contenders for 2012 has shaken up the race before it even officially began, notes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post. Some likely effects of the Mississippian's departure:
- The way is clear for Mitch Daniels. Barbour and Daniels are old friends who have said they didn't want to compete against each other. If the Indiana governor has presidential ambitions, his decision on whether to run or not just got a lot easier.
- Mike Huckabee gets a boost. With the only other true Southerner in the field gone and Sarah Palin's poll ratings plummeting, Huckabee must be feeling lucky, although some feel that the Arkansan has the same lack of "fire in the belly" that Barbour cited.
- Barbour still matters. Whether or not his exit spurs more Republicans to enter the field, his departure leaves his many donors and loyalists looking for a candidate, making Barbour's endorsement a very important one to gain.