By bowing out, Romney may provide oxygen for “next generation” candidates, such as Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal. (Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, also in that category, supply their own oxygen).
It’s true, of course, that Romney’s non-entry frees up donors and consultants, a disproportionate number of whom may opt for Bush. Moreover, it means that Bush won’t lose center-right votes to Romney.
But if there are enough center-right Republican primary/caucus participants to nominate Bush, there probably are enough of them to have nominated Bush or Romney, whichever one did better in the early going. Moreover, it’s not at all clear that Bush will have the center-right, or “establishment,” niche to himself. Chris Christie, for example, now may end up co-occupying it.