Whether Governor Christie is conservative enough to win the 2016 Republican presidential primary or not, unlike Governor Romney, the nation’s most popular governor actually does have the potential to smash through the blue wall.
During the 2012 presidential election, the GOP establishment pushed Mitt Romney with the promise that he would appeal to suburban voters, and possibly encroach on what is typically the Democrats’ ace in the hole – urban voters. It was this logic that led to the notorious – even infamous – far off predictions from Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan and Michael Barone. Dick Morris actually lost his job at Fox News, because Roger Ailes needed someone’s head after the 20% plummet in the network’s ratings post-election night.
Many conservatives, and rightfully so, were mad at Fox News and the so-called strategists in the GOP establishment for misleading them on the status of the race, and for missing the Obama campaign’s secret weapon. However, the establishment’s mistake went far beyond a wrongfully calculated voter turnout model that had estimated a 74.5% white voter turnout, rather than the actual 71.8% seen on election day.
For starters, unlike Romney, Governor Christie is popular in his own state and certainly is not being forced to serve one term because he had no chance of being reelected after a very unpopular tenure. Currently, in the average of polls conducted over the last month, Governor Christie has a favorability of 63%, while his approval rating is hovering above an astonishing 70%. Although I agreed with the premise that Mitt Romney could appeal to nontraditional Republican voters, his image had to repaired, as there has never been an unpopular politician who went on to a nationwide electoral victory.
|Poll||Date||Sample||Christie (R)||Buono (D)||Spread|
|RCP Average||6/3 – 6/13||—||59.3||28.8||Christie +30.5|
|Rasmussen Reports||6/12 – 6/13||1000 LV||58||28||Christie +30|
|Monmouth University||6/10 – 6/11||626 LV||61||31||Christie +30|
|Quinnipiac||6/7 – 6/9||858 RV||59||29||Christie +30|
|Rutgers-Eagleton||6/3 – 6/9||763 RV||59||27||Christie +32|
The good fortune Governor Christie is experiencing in his polling numbers are not limited to his home state either, as the more Americans have come to learn about him the more they have grown fond of his unconventional approach. A recent Gallup survey found that since March of 2011, the number of Americans who reported to have enough information about Governor Christie to formulate an opinion has increased from 49% – 72% today. Over that time, his favorable ratings have almost doubled, while his unfavorable ratings have dropped by 2%.
Appeal among independents nationwide, which is currently +30 for Governor Christie, is critical to any presidential victory. The GOP establishment made a big to-do over the 7 – 15 point advantage Mitt Romney enjoyed over President Obama among independents, which juxtaposed to Governor Christie is more than a bit lacking. In New Jersey, Governor Christie currently leads Buono among independents by an average of 69% – 28%, mirroring his nationwide appeal.
Perhaps the most important factor, which is a bit of an “X-factor” that can hardly be measured save for favorability ratings, is that Governor Christie is not Mitt Romney. He does not have his attitude, will not play it safe, and although I hate hypotheticals we can all rest assure that Governor Christie would not have backed off of Barack Obama after a single successful debate performance.
A serious consideration toward a run for president must address some of the criticisms and concerns within the party Governor Christie claims to belong. In the Gallup survey, the biggest irregularity comes from his 23% unfavorable rating among Republicans, which is marginally higher than his negatives among Democrats or independents. Many conservatives still blame Governor Christie for the apparent love fest with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy, which many still believe to have been the cause for Romney’s defeat.
To be perfectly frank I would have grave concerns over issues such as gun control, but I would argue that many of his critics are actually making a strong case for Governor Christie, rather than an argument against his potential candidacy.
Does anyone really believe that Governor Christie was doing anything other than ensuring that the people of the State of New Jersey would suffer no more than they absolutely needed? In fact, every controversial decision or action that the governor has taken has been one that has put him at odds with the GOP establishment. They certainly were not pleased with his performance after Hurricane Sandy, and the vocal lambasting he dealt the GOP after tabling the relief bill put him on considerably terrible terms with Speaker Boehner and the rest of the Washington establishment.
While the media reported on the heat that Governor Christie was taking from his own party, what was missed was the fact that the pork packed in the Hurricane Sandy relief bill was Republican Senate pork. It came from red senators in red states, yet no one found any inconsistency with the GOP’s actions. For Christie, he understood that the establishment was simply trying to punish him, and that they couldn’t care less about the wasteful government spending, just so long as they put down a popular governor who would not be tamed.