Gov. Christie’s job rating currently stands at 59% approve to 32% disapprove among New Jersey residents and 58% to 35% among registered voters. His job approval stood at 65% approve just one month ago. This is the first time since Superstorm Sandy struck the state over 14 months ago that the governor’s approval rating has dipped below 60%. Christie’s current job rating is still higher than any poll ratings he had in his term prior to Sandy.

Republicans are sticking by Christie, giving him an 89% approval rating which is in line with the 85% GOP support he received last month.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told reporters outside the White House they had confidence in Christie’s leadership after documents came to light suggesting his staffers had shut down access lanes to a busy bridge last year in an alleged act of political retribution…

“He was completely transparent and gave the public a chance to hear what he understood and what he knew. Took action on it, decisive action, in terms of removing the people who were not forthright with him,” said Walker, who, like Christie, is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2016. “And assuming everything stays as he’s announced, I don’t see that being a problem going forward.”

Herbert, too, expressed faith in Christie’s leadership of the RGA, a highly visible post that past governors have used as a launching pad for higher office.

“I think Chris has been a great leader for New Jersey,” Herbert told reporters, adding that it was possible more details could emerge in the bridge scandal. “I think we need to let that play out, but this is one Republican governor that supports Chris Christie as chairman of our RGA.”

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A top political adviser to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told The Washington Post Tuesday that Christie’s has recently received “positive, pro-active feedback” from leading Republican donors and will continue to travel nationally to raise money for GOP candidates.

“There have been plenty of calls,” Mike DuHaime, Christie’s chief political strategist, said in an interview before Christie’s annual address to state legislators. “There has been positive, pro-active feedback.”

DuHaime’s message is a signal to the Republican establishment that Christie’s political operation — widely seen by power brokers as a political shop preparing for a 2016 presidential run — is still humming regardless of the looming controversy over last year’s traffic snarls in Fort Lee, N.J., an episode that has entangled several Christie confidants.

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One un- or under-remarked-upon takeaways from the Christie spectacle is the fact that he is the most exciting figure in American politics for the moment, at least in the eyes of the mainstream media. Indeed, as I joked on Twitter, you have to wonder if Obama doesn’t feel a pang of jealousy for Christie. When was the last time the media dropped everything to listen to an Obama speech with such interest? No one hangs on his every word any more. Obama’s State of the Union address will of course get ample coverage, but it will be more pro-forma than enthusiastic. I’m not exactly a Christie booster, but even Christie’s biggest critics on the right should recognize that as far as the bored and somewhat disillusioned mainstream media is concerned, the 2016 primaries have begun. And for the folks at MSNBC — as well as outlets that matter a good deal more — their job is to tear down GOP presidential contenders they see as a threat… This is a real scandal — a real New Jersey scandal – but it’s a national story because Obama’s presidency is fizzling out. The thrill is gone, and the press has to look elsewhere for excitement.

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Governor Christie’s nearly two-hour-long press conference last week showed again that he is in a class by himself when it comes to Republicans who can express themselves in the heat of political battle.

When it comes to policies, I might prefer some other Republican as a 2016 presidential candidate. But the bottom line in politics is that you have to get elected in order to have the power to accomplish anything. It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are if you can’t be bothered to articulate them in a way that the voting public can understand…

If anything good comes out of this shabby episode of political vindictiveness by Governor Christie’s staffers, it showed what a skewed sense of perspective most of the media have on what kinds of issues are important. It is not that the media consider traffic jams more important than human lives. But the fact that Christie is the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 — and is ahead of Hillary Clinton in the polls — makes him a target for a partisan media.

Given that blatant partisanship, the need for a Republican candidate in 2016 who can make his case to the public, in spite of the media, is especially acute — even though it is much too early to try to predict who that candidate will be.

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Make no mistake: Bridge-gate has hurt Christie and slowed, badly, the considerable momentum he built during a sweeping reelection victory in 2013. But, assuming that no other revelations emerge linking him to the closure of several lanes of traffic in Fort Lee, Christie remains the candidate — with the possible exception of former Florida governor Jeb Bush — who is best positioned to build the coalition of major donors, party activists and GOP elites necessary to win the nomination…

How quickly can Christie move beyond Bridge-gate? How much of a hit does he take among the donor class? How soon until other 2016-ers jump on the criticism train? There are more questions than answers for Christie at the moment. But everyone ranked below him on this list has questions of his own. And Christie remains the most naturally talented candidate in Republican politics.

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Christie has a style and sensibility that has brought him far as a politician. He’s just received a sharp warning that this style and sensibility will take him no further. Conflict is intrinsic to politics — but conflict governed by rules, written and unwritten.

Christie’s team broke the rules to score revenge against a political opponent. Would a Christie White House govern the country in the same score-settling way? Even people inclined to support Christie are now wondering. His future will depend on convincing people that he’s learned his lesson and changed his ways, and the best way to convince people that you have learned a lesson is actually to learn that lesson and actually to change your ways.

At the end of his own career, Richard Nixon delivered an eloquent self-assessment of his own failure as president: “Always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” Unlike Nixon, Christie can benefit from that wisdom at the beginning of a presidential career rather than at its tragic end.

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