Chris Christie humiliates himself on Fox News: Why his "they want me to stay" howler is a load of BS

The NJ gov says his constituents desperately want him to stay as governor, and not run for office. Hmm. Is that so?

Published May 19, 2015 4:17PM (EDT)

Chris Christie                   (AP/Jim Cole)
Chris Christie (AP/Jim Cole)

Chris Christie is a funny guy. You think he's funny? Funny like how? Funny like this:

In what should have been the interview’s most contentious moment, [Megyn] Kelly noted that polls in New Jersey indicate “by a 65-29 percent margin, [Christie] would not make a good president. They know you the best, why shouldn’t we trust them?”

“They want me to stay,” Christie replied. “A lot of the people in the 65 percent want me to stay. I’ve heard that at a lot of town hall meetings — ‘I want you to stay.’”

Kelly repeated her question more emphatically, saying that “they say you would not make a good president.”

“I think people hear the question they want to hear,” Christie replied, clearly hearing the one he did. “The fact is,” he said, saying nothing, “the polls in New Jersey will go up and down. I’ve been as high as 75 percent approval, as low as 35 percent.”

We here at Salon Dot Com would like to thank the right honorable governor of New Jersey for saying something so silly and giving us another opportunity to run through his numbers, which are terrible, across the board, in every way.

There may be a some element of truth to Christie's claim that New Jerseyans tell pollsters Christie would be a bad president because they want him to stay as their governor. Regrettably, this would be a very small figure, even taking the most generous look at the figures. Christie's evidence is anecdotal -- this is what they tell me, at town halls! -- and it's quite possible that he has heard in person from all the people who hold this strange opinion, so modest are their ranks. The poll that Kelly cites-- in which New Jerseyans by a 65-29 percent margin do not think Christie would make a good president -- also pegs Christie's approval rating at 38 percent, with 56 percent disapproving. (This represents "his lowest approval rating ever and the lowest approval rating for any governor this year in the nine states surveyed by Quinnipiac University.") His horrible approval rating is slightly higher than his horrible "would make a good president" rating, so maybe some portion of that 9% sliver of voters are telling Quinnipiac pollsters that Christie would not make a good president in the hope that he stays on the job.

That Quinnipiac poll was released on April 20 -- before the Bridgegate indictments. A Monmouth poll released days after the anniversary shows his approval rating at 35 percent, the low figure to which he was presumably referring in his interview with Kelly. Christie gives the ol' polls go up, polls go down, whatcha gonna do? dismissal. Well, they've been going straight down for about 18 months now, and at this moment, there's no evidence that he's hit bottom. He could rebound. Or he could pull off "The George W. Bush," in which approval ratings simply continue to go down for the duration of his time in office.

We're going to go Occam's Razor here and suggest that the reason most New Jerseyans don't think Christie would be a good president is because they don't think he's a good governor, and they don't think he's a good governor because his second term has been awash in corruption scandals, his "tough love" schtick has grown tiresome, and the state of New Jersey is doing poorly on his watch.

This is just New Jersey, though. Despite having elected Chris Christie twice, for whatever reason, it's a blue state and may not be indicative of how Republican primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere feel about him.

Except it is. Iowa is just... ouch. New Hampshire isn't much better. A WMUR poll from a couple of weeks ago showed Christie earning 3 percentage points among likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, down from 9 percentage points in a February 2015 poll. It is essential that Chris Christie perform well -- either first or second, really -- in the New Hampshire Republican primary. He took a gamble in New Hampshire last month by rolling out a major plan to cut Social Security and Medicare. Shockingly, this does not appear to have helped his chances.

From the same WMUR poll, this is probably the most depressing sentence that's every been written about Chris Christie: "Christie was named as the least honest by 18 percent, followed by [Donald] Trump at 16 percent."

Republican voters nationally don't look well upon Chris Christie. In a late March survey, 42% of likely Republican voters said that they would not even consider voting for Christie. That figure is the highest among all potential candidates; only he and Lindsey Graham are underwater. This is the worst part about Christie's national problems: He brings all the baggage about his unpopularity and poor economic record in New Jersey, and on top of that, Republican primary voters in other states don't think he's conservative enough for their liking.

New Jersey is ready to get rid of Chris Christie and unfortunately for Chris Christie, no one else in the country wants him. Unless, sure, this is all a lie that voters everywhere tell pollsters, because they're afraid the pollsters might judge them if they say they like Chris Christie.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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