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April 14, 2015

New Jersey voters souring on Christie as president

Most believe he would not make a good president

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is heading to New Hampshire, home of the first 2016 presidential primary, Tuesday and according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, maybe he should stay there.

Nearly 70 percent of registered New Jersey voters polled think Christie would not make a good president, a 10 point increase since February, Rutgers' Center for Public Interest Polling reported on Tuesday.  

Only 24 percent think Christie would be a good president. Even fewer would describe him firmly as presidential - 10 percent said the term fit the governor "very well,"  while 28 percent said it described Christie "somewhat well," and 58 percent said he does not have the characteristic  "at all."

“Voters who know Gov. Christie best simply do not see him as president,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “New Jerseyans have watched him in good times and bad. While his strengths were on display after the Sandy disaster, he was seen as just another politician after the Bridgegate scandal and the investigations it spawned, and he has never recovered.”

The center conducted the statewide poll of 860 residents, including 722 registered voters, from March 27 to April 3, and the registered voter sample has a 4 percent margin of error. The poll was conducted in both English and Spanish.

According to the center, "voters are mixed on the likelihood of Christie becoming the Republican nominee. Forty-four percent say the governor’s chances have worsened over the past few months, 46 percent say they are about the same, but only 6 percent say they have improved.

"Still, most voters do not think these declining prospects will deter New Jersey’s governor: 57 percent still believe he will become a candidate, 32 percent do not, and 11 percent are unsure. In December 2014, 63 percent thought he would try for the GOP nomination and 25 percent did not."

Among those who give Christie thumbs down on being a good president: 71 percent of women, 66 percent of men, 79 percent of nonwhite voters, and 72 percent of millennials. Among New Jersey Republicans, Christie fares better:  53 percent believe he would make a good president and 55 percent have a favorable impression of the governor. But only 25 percent strongly think Christie is presidential, while 40 percent said he fits the description “somewhat well,” and 32 percent say the word does not describe him at all.

“It does seem that Christie’s better shot at the presidency might have been in 2012,” Redlawsk said. “While New Jersey voters were also not keen on him running when we asked in 2011, the national environment was very different, with many Republican leaders begging him to run. Four additional years in office have not helped his case, even with his near-universal support right after Superstorm Sandy. It’s a different Republican pool, and a Bridgegate-damaged Chris Christie.”