Of the five big names polled — him, Jeb, Rubio, Rand Paul, and Cruz — Christie’s the only one who’s net negative when Republicans are asked whether each should jump in. Not only that, but the guy with the most support among the five is Bush.
Have RINOs settled on a new champion?
The good news for Christie: Bush is deep underwater at 26/43 when independents are asked this question. The bad news: Christie himself trails the other three Republicans named in the poll. Rubio stands at 26/24 among indies, Paul at 30/29, and Cruz at 20/25. Christie is six points underwater at 28/34. Maybe that’s a function of name recognition, with the other, lesser known candidates destined to see their negatives rise as independents get to know them better. But remember, indies are supposed to be Christie’s bread and butter irrespective of how his competition polls with them. He’s the blue-stater who’s going to expand the GOP tent, right? And it’s really not the case that the other three guys are far less well known than him. He and Paul are comparable and Paul polls marginally better. Rubio has a serious liability on his record from spearheading amnesty and he polls better. Even Cruz, whom the media disdains as a kamikaze conservative, doesn’t attract as many thumbs down among independents. What happens between now and next year to turn this around for Christie?
The numbers back home in Jersey are brutal for him too. A morsel from the new Monmouth poll:
Back in September, the split on that question was 56/34. The rest of the poll is littered with sour opinions of him — New Jersey voters think he was personally involved in Bridgegate (50/44), think it was politics as usual for his administration (49/46, versus 39/55 just a month ago), believe he hasn’t been completely honest about the scandal (33/61), and believe that it’s very or somewhat likely that Christie’s administration used Sandy relief funds to exert power over local officials (60 percent). Most strikingly, more Jersey voters would now give the administration a C, D, or F in its handling of the Sandy recovery, which is supposed to be Christie’s most sterling leadership credential, than an A or B. (Six months ago, 72 percent gave them an A or B.) His job approval is down to 49 percent among registered voters, the first time it’s been below 50 since 2011. Absent a major unexpected turnaround, what’s left of the idea that Christie alone among major Republican candidates has some special crossover appeal to Democrats and independents?
Makes me wonder what happens if his numbers haven’t rebounded by this fall. Will he go ahead with a run anyway on the theory that he’ll never have an opportunity as good as 2016 again, no matter how damaged he might be? Or will he calculate that he’s better off passing and campaigning hard instead for someone like Jeb in exchange for a cabinet appointment later? He can’t run again for governor in 2017 and he’s not going to beat Cory Booker for Senate, so unless he’s planning to challenge Bob Menendez, his options are basically 2016 or bust. Exit question: Who’s the biggest winner from that CBS poll up top? Is it really Jeb or is it Rubio? Rubio’s supposed to be DOA because of immigration reform but neither Republican voters nor indies oppose the prospect of him running. If Jeb decides to pass, he’s potentially well positioned as a center-right alternative to Paul and Cruz.