The prognosis for Chris Christie’s presidential run doesn’t look good.
The New Jersey governor managed to maintain his status as a Republican favorite for a few weeks after the bridge scandal broke last month, and his constituents haven’t yet given up on him. But new polling reveals that conditions are now deteriorating in earnest.
More Republicans say they do not want Christie to run for president in 2016 (41 percent) than say they do (31 percent), according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released Wednesday.
Since the scandal spilled out onto the national stage, Christie has been stuck between laying low to repair his image and getting out there to convince both parties that he’s a formidable 2016 candidate. But as legislative and federal investigations continue to probe his office, the governor has little choice but to keep a relatively low profile. And keeping quiet means the Republican can’t combat the slipping favorability numbers within his own party.
It also means Christie is sinking back into a muddled pool of dozens of potential Republican candidates. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush led Wednesday’s poll. Forty percent of self-identified members of the Republican Party said they hoped the politicians would run, but 21 percent said they hoped Paul wouldn’t and 27 percent said the same for Bush. Thirty-two percent of Republicans say they want Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to run, but more do not know enough about him to say whether he should. Twenty-four percent said they’d like to see Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas run, but 59 percent don’t know enough about him to decide.
Republicans may oppose a Christie run because more of them now have a strong opinion about him as a potential leader, thanks to his bigger national profile compared with other potential candidates, and in part to his office’s involvement in a retaliation plot. Christie’s competitors have, so far, avoided any troubling events that would negatively sway party support.
Still, all the numbers point to one conclusion: If there is a Republican front-runner, and it doesn’t look like there’s a strong one, it’s not Christie.
Democrats, on the other hand, seem to be united on their favorite. More than eight in 10 Democrats said they want Hillary Clinton to run in 2016 — a level of interest unmatched by other potential candidates, Democrat or Republican. A majority were unable to give their opinions about some other potential Democratic candidates, suggesting that Clinton dominates the field.
The presidential race is still, of course, two years away. But Democrats’ tunnel vision can only mean good things for a potential Clinton campaign. As does Chris Christie’s slow relegation to the periphery.