Gallup: America's got a fee-vah and the only prescription is more Chris Christie

He doesn’t need a campaign platform for the primaries in 2016. All he needs, really, is this with a single word in 120-point font underneath: “ELECTABILITY.”


NBC/WSJ took his temperature in their new poll too and found similar parity across segments, although the numbers weren’t as robust:

He’s also energized certain segments of the Republican Party with his tough fiscal approach to governing New Jersey, and has proven popular among Garden State residents for his style of crisis management.

It’s a combination that’s led to 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats seeing him in a positive light…

Among all respondents, Christie’s favorable/unfavorable rating lands at 41 percent favorable vs. 12 percent unfavorable. That’s compared to Obama’s 47 percent favorable/40 percent unfavorable rating and Clinton’s 49 percent favorable/31 percent unfavorable score.

You read that correctly: His favorables are actually highest among Democrats per NBC/WSJ. Two points here. One, needless to say, this won’t last, just as Hillary’s popularity isn’t lasting. Hillary got high bipartisan marks because, as chief diplomat for four years, she was removed from the daily Dem/GOP food fight; Christie’s achieved something similar from his management of Sandy relief, and the gubernatorial race in Jersey isn’t important enough to rank-and-file Democrats to spoil that mood. (Although…) The presidency is, so when Christie starts making real noise about that, his numbers will shift accordingly. Also, if he plans on running as a Republican in 2016, he’ll have work to do after he’s reelected in NJ to pander to national conservatives — not because he expects to win them in the primary but because he needs them to turn out in the general if he’s nominated. You don’t need righties to take the nomination, as we know all too well, but having a chunk of them staying home out of spite against Hillary could turn a close win into a loss. Once the pandering starts, his numbers with Democrats will deflate.

Two, I wonder if there’s actually anything, or any accumulation of things, that Christie could do to keep conservatives home in 2016 if he’s the nominee. We’ve nominated two guys in a row on electability grounds and, paradoxically, the fact that they lost will only make electability weigh more heavily in some Republicans’ minds next time. I.e. “Can we really afford 12 years of Democratic executive control? We need to take back the White House now, no matter what compromises on policy that might mean!” Plenty of white middle-class would-be Republican voters stayed home last year, but I suspect that had little to do with Romney being too squishy and a lot to do with him being insufficiently populist, especially at a time of economic hardship. Christie, a savvier politician (Sean Trende calls yesterday’s special-election gambit “genius”), probably won’t make that mistake. He’ll be a RINO, but he’ll be a populist RINO — and conservatives, faced with the prospect of President Hillary, will swallow hard and trudge to the polls. The only issue that I think could end up as a legitimate dealbreaker is Christie’s position on guns, an issue about which some righties are so passionate that it would pain them almost viscerally to vote for someone who’s crosswise with them on it. To be sure, most of them would vote for Christie anyway — President Hillary would be worse on guns too, right? — but some of them would feel almost morally obliged to stay home. Maybe that sinks him.

The alternative to all this, of course, is if he skips the GOP primaries altogether and runs as an independent. I wouldn’t say that’s likely but I do think it’s increasingly plausible, partly because it would allow Christie to retain more of his current bipartisan appeal. The key, I think, is whether Hillary runs too or whether some no-name Democrat is nominated. If she runs, Democrats will unify behind her and he’d be looking at one of the losing ends in a 40/30/30 Clinton victory. If she doesn’t run, maybe he ends up with that magic 40 percent figure in a three-way race and then the House of Representatives would have a very hard decision to make. Hmmm.