Chris Christie's Out and the Big Winner Is Herman Cain

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision not to run for president is predictable and offers the possibility of changing the dynamic of the Republican primary election. With Florida, South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire all moving up the dates of their primaries and caucuses, it simply became impossible and impractical to raise the money and organize campaigns in those states in the less than 100 days that remain.

In the long term, the renewed speculation about Gov. Christie's candidacy can only raise his profile nationally as well as his stature in New Jersey where poll numbers have been steadily climbing in recent week. but the big news and the big story -- which has yet to be reported -- is what this announcement Tuesday means for the remaining nine candidates competing for the nomination.

And the big winner today is Herman Cain. Cain is the winner because he's the only candidate climbing in the in polls. In the Fox News poll released last week and the Washington Post poll released Monday, Cain is surging, more than doubling his prior level of support up to 16 or 17 percent.

Rick Perry has seen his support plummet. and Perry is now in an effective statistical tie with Cain for second place.

The front runner, Mitt Romney is at about 25 %, has been at 25% and shows no signs of being able to grow beyond twenty-five percent.

In plain English, he's stuck.

Another way to put it is that 3 in 4 Republican voters are not considering voting for a man who ran last time and has been the most visible and active and aggressive of the candidates competing now for the nomination.

I had a chance to hear Herman Cain live and in person last night at the Monday Meeting in New York City. He brought the house down -- getting three standing ovations and captivating a crowd that is usually is more hard-headed and analytical than emotional.

Every poll that I've seen suggests that Republicans are looking for fresh faces, new ideas and most of all optimism about our future. Cain offers all of the above.

My Live "Campaign Confidential" colleague Pat Caddell, picked up -- immediately after the last GOP debate -- that Cain could be surging.

Caddell was right.

And now, with the field clarified and the two front-runners either frozen or sinking Herman Cain has a unique opportunity that six months ago, no pundit, professional or politician would have given him.

Truth be told, having spoken to Cain, briefly at Fox News a few months ago, he's probably surprised about where the Republican electorate is heading.

One final point: I was with a Democratic congressional candidate from a swing district in Connecticut yesterday. We were talking about strategy and message. His bottom line? The only person his would be constituents were talking about was Herman Cain. There's something to that...

Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.