Will Chris Christie win the presidency in 2016? Not if the New Jersey governor's own constituents get their way.
According to a new Quinnippiac University poll, the state that re-elected Christie by a 22-point margin just over a year ago has soured on the governor, amid lingering questions over the Bridgegate scandal and voter disapproval of Christie's handling of the economy and jobs. By a margin of 50 to 44 percent, New Jersey voters say that Christie should not run for president, and 62 percent of the state's residents think he should resign the governorship if he decides to proceed with a White House run. And if he makes his way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Only 40 percent of New Jersey voters think Christie would make a good president, while 53 percent say he wouldn't.
Among the Republican candidates tested in the poll, Christie comes closest to likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the battle for the state's 14 electoral votes. But he still trails Clinton by 11 points; the former secretary of state leads Christie 50 to 39 percent.
As I've written before, Christie's declining fortunes in New Jersey almost certainly spell doom for his presidential campaign. Much of the Republican Party's conservative base at least views Christie with deep suspicion, if they don't outright despise him over his close work with President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and his heresies on issues like judicial nominations, banning "ex-gay" therapy, and immigration reform. But in the wake of Christie's landslide re-election victory last year, there was an argument to be made that the base may have stomached Christie anyway. For all of his impurities, the thinking went, a governor with blue and purple state appeal offered the GOP its best shot at reclaiming the White House.
With Christie's support cratering at home, however, that argument no longer holds much water. Moreover, a presidential campaign would bring renewed scrutiny to the governor's hardball tactics, and New Jersey's sorry financial state -- the state's credit rating has been downgraded eight times on Christie's watch -- would be ripe for attack by his primary rivals. So while New Jersey voters may not be enamored of their chief executive, they're likely stuck with him until his term ends in January 2018.