About a month ago, shouty New Jersey governor Chris Christie traveled to the wilds of New Hampshire to “jump start” his flagging presidential prospects. He was a man on a mission, and he deliberately waded into a hotly debated issue area – Social Security – in order to get Republican primary voters talking about his no-nonsense brand of Jersey tough guy truth-telling. Christie laid out a plan for means-testing Social Security, raising the retirement age, and cutting benefits. “It is about telling all Americans the truth, and without delay,” Christie said at the time. “If you believe we should keep this promise, as I do, that all Americans should have access to the economic security these programs provide, then that costs money.”
It was the start of the Christie Comeback! Or, at least, it was the start of the most recent of Christie’s many “comebacks.” Like John McCain before him, Christie’s plan was to claw his way out of the electoral cellar and bet big on the Granite State. Well, the early reviews are in and so far it hasn’t worked. In fact, things have only gotten worse for the good governor.
A new poll out from WMUR puts Christie’s support among New Hampshire Republicans at a barely twitching three percent. More significantly, his support dropped from nine percent in a February WMUR poll. A late April Gravis Marketing survey put Christie’s support in the state at 5 percent – half of what he drew in a mid-March Gravis poll. The overall trend in Christie’s New Hampshire support matches that of his national support: a steady decline from the heights of his late-2013 popularity.
And here’s where the McCain comparison falls apart. For all the troubles McCain had in the 2008 cycle – he regularly trailed Mitt Romney in New Hampshire by double digits as late as December 2007 – his support never once dipped into single digits. “McCain always had a base of Republicans who might be willing to support his campaign,” Harry Enten wrote at FiveThirtyEight, “even if they weren’t doing so at the time.”
Christie is also struggling against soft favorability ratings and an ongoing scandal narrative that dogs him wherever he goes, New Hampshire included. The bridge scandal has only caused him more problems since the April New Hampshire reboot. The former Christie officials at the center of the Bridgegate controversy were indicted last week on several counts of fraud and conspiracy, pushing the scandal right back onto the front pages and cable news.
What’s left for Chris Christie to do? Well, the only thing he can do. He’s going back to New Hampshire to revive his 2016 ambitions for the second time in as many months:
Days after federal prosecutors brought charges against three of his former top aides, a wounded New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is heading to this first in the nation primary state to salvage what’s left of his national political ambitions.
Polls in the wake of the Bridgegate indictments have left the Republican’s numbers in a freefall in his home state. But when it comes to his potential 2016 campaign, Christie is still pressing onward.
Christie was in Mississippi and Louisiana on Tuesday for events on behalf of his political action committee, Leadership Matters for America. On Thursday, Christie will be in New Hampshire, which is emerging as the do-or-die state for the embattled governor. Even in the Granite State, where the governor – a fellow northeastern Republican – could conceivably do well in, he’s only polling at 3% among likely Republican voters and in 10th place overall among the emerging GOP field, according to a new survey by WMUR.
So throw another Christie Comeback onto the pile, I suppose. Team Christie remains convinced, in spite of all the bad news and sagging poll numbers, that their guy still has legs. At the very least, you have to admire the guy’s persistence.