Most Say Christie Will Still Run, But No Match for “Favorite” Hillary Clinton
By Caitlin Sullivan, Gabriela Perez, and Jingying Zeng
Caitlin Sullivan is the head data visualization intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a senior at Rutgers University. Gabriela Perez, a senior, and Jingying Zeng, a junior, are also data visualization interns at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
In the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge scandal, Gov. Christie has not only taken a hit in his personal ratings but also in his presidential chances for 2016, at least with New Jersey voters. In a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll January 14-19, 2014, NJ registered voters give a clear lead to Hillary Clinton over Christie, while making it close between Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, when asked about potential 2016 matchups.
Clinton is a clear favorite in the “blue” state of New Jersey. Only 34 percent of NJ registered voters say that they would vote for Christie if the election were today, while 55 percent support Clinton. The potential Christie-Cuomo race, on the other hand, is neck-and-neck: 41 percent favor Christie while 42 percent would vote for Cuomo.
Christie’s second place position to Clinton and virtual tie with Cuomo stems from the governor’s significant favorability ratings drop. Once more supportive of Christie, only 46 percent of voters have a favorable impression of the governor, compared to 47 percent who have a favorable impression of Cuomo. But Clinton really shines with NJ voters right now: 65 percent have a favorable impression of her, a level Christie enjoyed before Bridgegate. While Republicans and Democrats stick by their respective partisan candidates, independents give a slight edge to Christie in favorability: 55 percent are favorable of the governor, versus 54 percent for Clinton and 45 percent for Cuomo.
Despite his problems, Christie does not lose his GOP base in the head-to-head tests; he still retains the support of 77 percent of Republican voters versus Clinton and 82 percent of Republicans versus Cuomo.
But Democrats and independents portray different stories. Independents are split in the Christie-Clinton race, 41 percent for Christie to 46 percent for Clinton. But Christie is the clear choice for independents against NY Gov. Cuomo, 46 percent to 30 percent.
Not surprisingly, overwhelming majorities of Democrats side with the Democratic candidates: 85 percent would support Clinton against Christie, and 70 percent would support Cuomo.
Women voters give the edge to the Democratic candidate in both matchups, especially when it comes to the one who could potentially be the first woman president. Clinton takes 60 percent of women, versus 30 percent for Christie, a 30-point gap. Cuomo also wins women, but by a narrower margin: 46 percent to 34 percent for Christie. A large gender gap emerges, where men support Clinton by only eight points, 48 percent to 40 percent for Christie. And men prefer Christie over Cuomo by 12 points, 49 percent to 37 percent.
Asked about whether Christie is focused more on his potential presidential campaign or more on doing what’s best for the state, just over half of voters believe Christie’s main concern is his potential presidential campaign, while a little more than a third say the governor puts the state first and foremost in his decisions. Opinions are divided across partisan lines, of course: two-thirds of Republican voters believe Christie makes decisions that are best for the state, versus 39 percent of independents, and 22 percent of Democrats.
Voters have mixed feelings on whether Christie running for president will be good or bad for New Jersey, with a plurality (45 percent) saying it will make no difference. The rest of voters are split between whether it would affect the state positively or negatively, 28 percent to 21 percent. Forty-two percent of Republicans say a Christie presidential run would benefit the state – which is more than double the share of Democrats and 13 points more than independents who say the same.
In spite of this negative outlook for Christie in his home state – which, after all, is much more Democratic than Republican overall – most still say they expect Christie to run for president in 2016. Sixty percent of all voters think he will run, including a majority of partisans of all stripes (57 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of independents, and 67 percent of Republicans).