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
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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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