Can Christie Win?

Quinnipiac has a poll out showing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey trailing Republican Chris Christie, 44 to 38 percent. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post ...
by | February 5, 2009

Corzine Quinnipiac has a poll out showing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey trailing Republican Chris Christie, 44 to 38 percent.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has a good rundown on the dynamics of this nascent race, pointing out correctly that New Jersey Republicans have consistently thought they had a chance to win statewide races in this decade, only to far fall short.

Corzine, despite Goldman Sachs' lumps, still has plenty of money for another generous, self-financed race. And the state's undecideds tend to go Democratic. But Cillizza says Corzine faces a real test:

Here's why: Corzine has had a steady run of negative job approval numbers; his résumé as a former senior executive at Goldman Sachs, once considered one of his strongest assets, is now seen as a burden with the struggles of New York's financial sector bleeding into New Jersey (the state's unemployment rate hit a 15-year high in December); and in Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, Republicans finally may have found the quality candidate they have long been searching for.

"People are disappointed in Corzine," said Mike Duhaime, a New Jersey native who managed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid in 2008. "They don't dislike him. He's just been ineffective."

That sentiment was echoed by a Democratic operative who has done extensive work in the state and was granted anonymity to speak candidly about Corzine's prospects.

"I think this is a real race and it will be close," said the source. "Christie will not wither on the vine like past Republicans."

The Quinnipiac poll seems to bear out that assessment. Going beyond the head to head numbers, there is troubling data for Corzine almost everywhere you look. Independent voters disapprove of the job he is doing by a two-to-one margin and opt for Christie by a 49 percent to 24 percent margin. Only one in three voters say that Corzine deserves to win reelection this fall while 54 percent believe he does not.

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