What Bridgegate cost Christie in the 2016 race

Therein lies the cost to Christie in the stories emerging when they have. Christie’s head start is now lost in a fog of investigations and careful answers that figure to consume at least the first half of this year.

Others will lay claim to the Christie mantle of no-nonsense problem-solvers from outside of Washington; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who hopes to win his own big re-election this fall, springs to mind, and more than a few Republicans are talking up former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush all over again.

The putative GOP superman has gotten a super-humbling. A new poll out Tuesday from Quinnipiac University tells the story, with nearly three-fourths of voters saying they’ve heard about the scandal known as Bridgegate, and half saying it harms Christie’s White House chances.

The key to Christie’s appeal — what makes Christie potentially different than any of a dozen Republicans with eyes on the big prize — is his proven ability to appeal to the nonideological middle.

That is gone, at least for now.