Chris Christie (AP/Julio Cortez)

The Christie "comeback" tracker: How many rebounds can New Jersey's governor (almost) have?

Ever since Bridgegate blew up, Chris Christie has forever been on the cusp of mounting a "comeback"


Simon Maloy
May 5, 2015 9:24PM (UTC)

The indictments filed against Chris Christie’s former aides and appointees for their roles in the Bridgegate scandal have stirred up yet another round of questions about the New Jersey governor’s 2016 ambitions. Is he still politically viable? Will the scandal drag him down? And, most importantly, can Christie mount a comeback? Over the weekend, Politico quoted several Christie acolytes who are confident that now, finally, their man can put all this bridge nonsense behind him and win back the people’s acclaim: “Those close to the governor believe the airing of the charges gives Christie, who saw his meteoric political rise halted by the scandal, the chance to get his derailed presidential campaign back on track.”

The Christie Comeback! If it feels like we’ve been predicting and discussing Chris Christie’s imminent political rebirth for a long time, that’s because we have. All that’s been missing has been the actual comeback. Christie’s 2016 primary numbers have steadily eroded from their November 2013 high of 15 percent to his current five percent share. His approval rating in New Jersey has also collapsed to a record low 35 percent. The New Jersey economy is stumbling along, Christie’s paths to victory in early primary states remain highly questionable, and even his own state party is starting to turn on him. But when each new “Christie Comeback” flames out, there seems to be a new one ready to step up and take its place.

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I went back and catalogued the rumors, stirrings and, in some cases, verifications of a “Christie Comeback” stretching back to early 2014, when the Bridgegate scandal was first blowing up. Since then, Christie has averaged about one incipient comeback or rebound per month.

April 2015

But after a political winter that Christie would like to forget, the New Jersey governor and his advisers are re-calibrating for an early summer campaign launch designed to capitalize on Christie's considerable strengths as a retail campaigner and position him as a truth-telling underdog in the style of John McCain. [Source: CNN.com]

March 2015

“Those are the events that make life meaningful,” Christie says. “We work our whole lives to get to that point where we have a little bit of freedom, of time, and of energy, to say, ‘I’m dedicating this to my grandchildren.’ ”

It’s not a presidential platform or a fully formed rationale for a Christie candidacy. But for a guy who’s been counted out, it’s a start. [Source: The Weekly Standard]

February 2015

Despite everyone’s best guesses about Chris Christie, the fact is that you never know whether a batter can hit a curveball in the Bigs until, well, he steps into the batter’s box and takes a swing. All the missteps from Trenton to 10 Downing Street won’t mean a thing if Christie hits it out of the park in his first few New Hampshire town-hall meetings. If he does, you can bet the star-maker machinery will slowly start churning his way and we will excitedly start talking about “The Christie Comeback.” [Source: Joe Scarborough’s awful Politico blog]

November 2014

After months of uncertain footing, though, Christie had charted an artful comeback, largely through the cover of his perch as the chairman of the governors association. With the midterms approaching, and many of the tightest gubernatorial races breaking his way, Christie seemed to have reached a point where he fully believed he would survive politically. [Source: New York Times Magazine]

October 2014

Pundits, especially on the far right, tend to think elections are all about ideology and positions on individual issues. (How many times have we heard, “He can’t win in the GOP because of his position on X?”) In fact, it is a candidate’s overall message and personal qualities that most concern voters selecting a potential president. If Christie keeps this up and shows a more granular level of knowledge about foreign policy, he will be, if he decides to run, a formidable candidate. [Source: Jennifer Rubin’s Washington Post blog]

September 2014

Influential Republicans in early presidential primary states believe New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is poised to once again become a frontrunner for the party’s 2016 nomination, following a news report that federal scrutiny of a bridge-closing scandal has not implicated him.

“If he had been found in the wrong, he would have been irreparably damaged,” said Matt Moore, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. “This is hugely helpful.” [Source: Washington Post]

August 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is continuing a comeback of sorts. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “Christie scored a political win Monday with the passage of bills overhauling the state’s bail system. It was a bipartisan victory years in the making that came as the Republican governor has begun to emerge from a challenging time. [Source: Jennifer Rubin’s Washington Post blog]

July 2014

But as he heads to New Hampshire Thursday for his second trip to an early presidential state this month, nearly a dozen aides, top supporters and early-state activists told POLITICO in interviews they believe the New Jersey governor actually does have a political pulse — and that the ingredients exist if not for a full comeback, then at least a chance to be taken seriously again as a presidential hopeful. [Source: Politico]

June 2014

Christie led some presidential polls last year, but the Bridgegate scandal caused his numbers to tank and, along with it, some said, his political future.

The latest CNN poll, however, indicates that the New Jersey governor may have outlasted the scandal, even as a federal investigation into possible abuses of power by the governor’s administration continues. [Source: MSNBC.com]

April 2014

Christie's leadership isn't the only factor that has led to the RGA's financial success, but there is ample evidence that the New Jersey governor's star power on the Republican money circuit has rarely been more apparent. And as he continues to prepare for a potential 2016 presidential bid, that indispensability on the GOP fundraising circuit may be key to his political revitalization. [Source: RealClearPolitics]

March 2014

The Comeback Has Begun! Standing Ovation for Christie at CPAC [Source: FoxNews.com]


Simon Maloy

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