Nearly six in ten Republicans can't see themselves supporting Chris Christie in next year's GOP primaries, underscoring the significant hurdles confronting the New Jersey governor as he prepares to make his White House bid official.
According to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey released Monday, only 32 percent of Republican primary voters can envision supporting Christie, while 57 percent say they cannot. Only carnival barker Donald Trump received a higher negative score, with 74 percent saying they couldn't see themselves voting for the game show host. In its summary of the poll, the Wall Street Journal wrote that Christie's grim numbers show him to be in a "deep hole" -- a far cry from the glory days of late 2013, when Christie was fresh off a 22-point re-election victory and topped many national surveys of the GOP field.
Like Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has encountered considerable suspicion on the Republican right, but the NBC-WSJ poll found him faring far better than the Garden State governor. A 49 percent plurality indicated they could see themselves voting for Bush, while 42 percent said they could not.
Among the more intriguing findings in the poll: Despite right-wing furor over his 2013 support for immigration reform, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) boasted the highest number of Republicans saying they could vote for him, with 56 percent saying the could envision casting a ballot for him and 26 percent saying they could not. Rubio only polls in the mid-single digits in surveys of the Republican field, but he has also met with some early success in wooing wealthy megadonors, and the new findings suggest that he has an opening to build support among the party's rank-and-file.