By Editor | November 28th, 2012 - 1:11pm
| More

By: Simon Blum

If your mind is shaped by political headlines, you would probably bet your house today that Governor Chris Christie will be reelected on November 5th, 2013.

After all, there have been news stories galore in recent days about Christie’s enviable position in our blue state less than one year before we head to the polls. This week’s Quinnipiac poll, for instance, finds the governor with a historic 72% approval rating, just short of the 77% approval found by the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University poll. Just prior to Hurricane Sandy, Christie’s approval was in the far lower –albeit very respectable- 55% range.

These figures clearly put Christie in the driver’s seat, but whether he will actually win reelection next year boils down to two fundamental questions: How much of his current bounce will he retain? How many of the voters who approve of his performance on Election Day will actually vote for him?

No one has a crystal ball, but it is highly plausible that by next November Christie’s approval rating will be closer to –or perhaps even lower than- what it was pre-Sandy.

Unlike a tragedy like 9/11, which brought national security to the forefront and boosted George W. Bush for years, Sandy’s fallout will naturally fade from the conscience of all but the most affected New Jersey residents. And despite the precious embrace Christie that offered Obama a week before the election, Democrats will not return the favor.

The tough talking governor and potential formidable GOP presidential nominee can expect a brutal onslaught to boot him out of office. By the time all campaign commercials will have been aired, facts such as, for instance, that the Garden State’s unemployment rate is (as of now) nearly 2% above the nation’s and that the state saw a credit downgrade under the governor’s watch will be at the forefront of voters’ minds. Christie’s trademark abrasiveness will be highlighted in place of his emphatic bipartisan crisis management.    

A steep approval dip after an unusual event fades is not without precedent. Former President George H. W. Bush famously saw his Gallup approval rating skyrocket to 89% in early 1991 due to his leadership during the Gulf War. By February of 1992, with the presidential campaign and recession in focus, it was down to 39% and he lost to Bill Clinton that November. Easy come, easy go.

Secondly, perhaps more importantly, is the fact that even if Christie’s approval rating remains over 50% after Sandy fades and he takes fire, he is not assured reelection, as incumbents in that case typically are. He is a Republican in New Jersey after all. The Garden State has a long history of teasing Republicans in statewide races, with voters coming home to the Democrat as Election Day nears. This trend applies even to Democratic candidates voters don’t love and Republicans they don’t hate.

Christie Whitman, the last popular Republican governor, had a 55% approval rating and a 12% lead over Democrat Jim McGreevey in a Quinnipiac poll in September 1997. Several weeks later, Whitman barely eked out a 1% win with 47% of the vote. On the flipside, Democratic candidates tend to do a lot better on Election Day than their numbers would suggest. A week before Election Day 2009, former Governor Jon Corzine had a dismal 39%-54% approval/disapproval ratio according to Quinnipiac, yet he only lost the race by under 4%. Senator Bob Menendez’s approval rating never crossed 50% until shortly before the election, in which he swamped his GOP rival by 59% to 40%. It is no coincidence that, despite many “competitive” races, no Republican won a senate seat in our state since 1972.

Even during his current honeymoon with New Jerseyans, Quinnipiac found Christie mustering only 53% of the vote against Cory Booker, 19% less than his approval rating. Shortly prior to Sandy, the governor saw only 46% of voters committed to him vs. Booker in Quinnipiac, 10% less than his approval rating and 6% less than the percentage that said “he deserves reelection” in the same poll. A huge chunk of the Democrats and like-minded independents who say they like the GOP governor will not pull the lever for him. A significant approval drop from his current sugar high could put Christie squarely in the danger zone.  

How much of Christie’s approval will drop and how many of his fans will desert him at the ballot box depends on a host of unknowns, primarily how the state economy does over the next year and whether Booker or another strong Democratic candidate takes on the governor.

Christie may still be a clear favorite in eleven months from now, but he may also very well be fighting for his political life. Only time will tell –which is precisely the point.

Simon Blum is a freelance writer and journalist specializing on political analysis and communication.

The Back Room

Christie invades South Carolina

On his first visit to South Carolina as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Gov. Chris Christie stayed in "moderate Charleston, in contrast to other potential GOP candidates who made early visits to conservatives elsewhere," according to an ABC News report.

Read More >

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 17th

U.S. Senate race: Bell defends gold standard stance MONTCLAIR - On the same day he was politically brickbatted by the chief adviser to the last Republican challenger to incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), GOP Senate candidate Jeff Bell stood by a key plank of policy platform: monetary reform...

Op-Ed

Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >

Contributors

(9-17-14) Viral Video Prompts Questionable NJ Municipal Ordinance -  Socrates said, “While I might disagree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say... more »
The Correct Foreign Policy – Neither Fortress America Nor Pax Americana      Last week marked the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War 2.  It started with the... more »
(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“Clearly there’s some resemblance with Theodore Roosevelt. That direct confrontational style of leadership.” - historian Doris Hearns Goodwin, referring to Gov. Chris Christie.

- The Times of Trenton

Poll

Who would make the best running mate for Chris Christie if he lands the GOP nomination for president?:

Blogroll

Visit the PolitickerNJ.com/resources page for links to the best collection of information on New Jersey state government.

 

  • Polls
  • The best blogs
  • Columnists
  • State election results
  • Assembly election results
  • Local party websites
  • And more.

PolitickerNJ.com/resources