New Jersey Still Loves Chris Christie, but the Nation Isn’t So Sure

Comparing national and New Jersey polling, divergent views of Christie’s involvement in the bridge scandal emerge.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Jan. 21, 2014, 4:17 a.m.

The bully is in the eye of the bul­lied, right? Or at least in the eyes of the bystand­ers. But def­in­itely, the worst judge of the bully is the bully him­self.

Chris Christie still doesn’t know what les­sons to take from the George Wash­ing­ton Bridge scan­dal. That much the New Jer­sey gov­ernor told Ya­hoo‘s Matt Bai in an in­ter­view pub­lished over the week­end. But as he in­sisted in the im­me­di­ate press con­fer­ence after the re­lease of the damning email, he is clear on one thing. He is not a bully. And he can be mis­un­der­stood, as he told Bai. “It doesn’t mean I don’t get angry — every­body gets angry,” he said. “But they con­fuse some­times, if you’re blunt and you’re dir­ect and you just say things the way you see them, that that’s an­ger.” It’s just in his per­son­al­ity to ap­pear that way.

Na­tion­al opin­ion polling, however, shows thoughts tip­ping in the oth­er dir­ec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Pew Re­search, a ma­jor­ity — 58 per­cent — of people be­lieve that Christie is ly­ing about or un­der­stat­ing his know­ledge of his aides’ in­volve­ment in the scan­dal. That in­cludes 42 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans, who also be­lieve the gov­ernor is more closely tied to the scan­dal than he lets on.

Like­wise, his over­all opin­ion polling is trend­ing down­ward. Last year, Christie was on fire. He brought New Jer­sey back from splin­ters of a “su­per­storm,” and com­pared with the blus­ter­ingly stag­nant law­makers of Wash­ing­ton, he was a su­premely ef­fect­ive lead­er. Last Janu­ary, Pew notes, there were double the amount of people with a fa­vor­able view of Christie than un­fa­vor­able. Now, his un­fa­vor­able score has doubled (from 17 per­cent last year to 34 per­cent this year). His fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings, though, have dropped only 2 points.

But Pew’s sur­vey was na­tion­al. In New Jer­sey, the gov­ernor is faring much, much bet­ter. A Janu­ary 15 poll from Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity found that, among state voters, a ma­jor­ity (54 per­cent) say Christie is more of a lead­er than a bully. Sev­enty-four per­cent said he was a strong lead­er. And while 93 per­cent of the voters had heard of the bridgeg­ate scan­dal, only 41 per­cent of those people say the gov­ernor knew what his aides were do­ing.

So this is the emer­ging im­age of Christie: a lead­er in the eyes of New Jer­sey, a bully to the rest. 

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