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HomePollsPoll: NJ Gov. Chris Christie Slips But Still Leads 2016 Republican Nomination

Poll: NJ Gov. Chris Christie Slips But Still Leads 2016 Republican Nomination

A new CNN poll shows support for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has slipped a point or two in the field of potential candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination. Polls conducted this early have almost no predictive value, whatsoever. Yet, we can dig out a few interesting points.

Poll Date Sample Christie Ryan Paul Bush Rubio Cruz Walker Jindal Martinez Spread
RCP Average 7/15 – 9/8 16.5 13.8 13.3 12.3 12.3 8.7 4.0 2.5 1.5 Christie +2.7
CNN/Opinion Research 9/6 – 9/8 452 RV 17 16 13 10 9 7 Christie +1
Rasmussen Reports 8/1 – 8/2 LV 21 13 15 16 18 6 Christie +3
PPP (D) 7/19 – 7/21 500 RV 13 13 16 13 10 12 4 2 Paul +3
McClatchy/Marist 7/15 – 7/18 357 RV 15 13 9 10 12 7 2 1 1 Christie +2

Looking at the polling above, Gov. Chris Christie has never had a significant lead over the other likely or potential GOP candidates. In fact, in the last article, I underscored a serious weakness held by the governor. Although he was ahead of the pack, he was also the single-most undesirable candidate among Republican voters. If conservative voters could ever coalesce behind a single conservative candidate, then moderate Republicans would not even have a chance.

But we know how that story typically ends. In the CNN poll, only 8% of Republicans who consider themselves conservatives say they would likely back Christie, compared to 28% of self-described moderate Republicans. All in all, 17% of Republicans and Independents who lean toward the GOP say they are likely to support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with 16% surprisingly supporting Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee. That represents an increase of 3 points or so, and it is clear where it is most likely stemming from.

Rubio’s number should smack you in the face. Once considered a rising star among many Republicans, who actually appeared on the cover of Time under “Savior” for the GOP, Rubio’s numbers – 9% – are abysmal.  He did register in the upper teens – at his highest, 18% – in polls conducted by other organizations earlier this year.

It would seem that Rubio’s support of immigration reform — or his membership in the bipartisan so-called “Gang of Eight” who pushed immigration reform passage through the Senate this spring — has done damage to his standing with many conservative voters. But the rub is, Rep. Paul Ryan is also in favor of the “Gang of Eight” Senate bill in its current form, so it would appear that some GOP voters are a bit misinformed. Nevertheless, Senator Rubio has some serious work to do if he seriously considers a bid.

Sen. Rand Paul R-KY, is at 13%, which doesn’t surprise me, because the media will do whatever they can to keep the youth vote in Hillary’s corner; she’ll need it when the Benghazi ads start running. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is at 10%; Sen. Ted Cruz R-TX, at 7%, and former Sen. Rick Santorum R-PA, who was the runner-up for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, is at 5%.

Normally, I would not put any stock in what he says, but CNN Polling Director, Keating Holland hit the nail on the head when it comes to Santorum:

It’s often said — and it’s usually true — that polls taken years before the first presidential primaries are mostly tests of name recognition. But clearly (it’s) something more than name recognition when it comes to Santorum. Santorum is well-known to GOP voters — he had months of national exposure in the 2012 primaries, and since the start of the modern primary system in the 1970s, the GOP has tended to nominate the candidate who was the runner-up the last time the party had an open race for the nomination. But Santorum is not just in the middle of the pack — he is currently running dead last out of the eight candidates tested.

It is true that this is mostly an exercise in name recognition, but Santorum is not polling well for a reason. Worth mentioning, however, last election cycle he was polling at 2%, even though he announced his campaign early.

For the Democratic Party, they are in real danger of having a wholly uneventful nomination process. The poll showed that a whopping 65% of Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say they would likely back Clinton as their presidential nominee. Vice President Joe Biden comes in a really distant second, at 10%. Freshman Senator – great, another one – Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, is at 7%, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at 6%, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at 2%.

Do a double take if you must, then answer this: who is the party of old white people, again?

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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