Whom will Republicans nominate in the contest to succeed President Barack Obama in 2016? Statistics guru and election forecaster Nate Silver says it's unlikely to be Chris Christie, the bombastic New Jersey governor once billed as a top GOP contender.
In a new post for FiveThirtyEight, Silver lays out three reasons he believes Christie's 2016 chances are drastically "overrated." First, Silver argues, Christie is too moderate for the Tea Party-era GOP, citing his heresies on issues like education, immigration reform, and gun control. To the extent that many conservative voters are suspicious of Jeb Bush, a leading GOP prospect, they're unlikely to find Christie's views any more palatable, Silver reasons.
Moreover, he writes, Christie "probably lacks the discipline to win the 'invisible primary,'" as evidenced by the recent firestorm surrounding his enthusiastic cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, whom he prefers over hometown and swing-state teams. The story transformed from frivolous to potentially serious, Silver notes, when it emerged that a company the Cowboys co-own won a contract from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Add Christie's proclivity to publicly blow up at constiutents to the mix, and he's all but certain to attract more unfavorable media attention as he moves toward 2016.
Finally, echoing an argument I've put forth, Silver contends that amid high-profile controversies like Bridgegate, Christie has lost one of the most compelling rationales for his candidacy: his purported electability. Once seen as a candidate who could woo voters in purple and even blue states, the scandal-plagued Christie is now viewed more unfavorably than favorably in public polling, Silver notes, and he performs no better against Hillary Clinton than Bush or Mike Huckabee do in early surveys.
Much of the GOP base is deeply suspicious of Christie, but there was once a case to be made that many conservatives would hold their noses and support him so as to increase the GOP's odds of reclaiming the White House. Now that Christie no longer appears to offer the party any unique advantage in the general election, what reason do primary voters have to nominate a man of whom they're not particularly fond?