Bridgegate underscores Christie GOP weakness

January 15, 2014, 6:42 PM GMT+0

Governor Christie may not have a Bridgegate problem–but he has a GOP problem.

The recent New Jersey “Bridgegate” revelations – that lane closure on the George Washington Bridage were ordered by aides of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as political retribution – may not have made much impact on Christie’s GOP support when it comes to getting the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination.

Chris Christie, 2016 and Republicans

Of course, the 2016 election is far away. But recent Economist/YouGov Polls, including one conducted after the scandal became public knowledge, consistently demonstrate a tough road for Christie winning over Republican voters.

Although in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll Christie remains among the front-runners for the Republican nomination – 18% of those who call themselves Republicans want him to be the 2016 nominee, ranking him on top with several other Republicans close behind and slightly better than his position in October, the last horserace measurement, most Republicans then and now don’t favor Christie.

In fact, just as they did before the scandal broke, more than a third of Republicans don’t even like him. He is the only Republican candidate asked in this poll whose unfavorable rating among Republicans is that high. And only one other potential candidate gets lower favorable ratings – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – but Walker is unknown to nearly half of GOP identifiers.

Republicans view all the other contenders more favorably than they see Christie. More than two-thirds of Republicans have favorable views of Wisconsin Representative (and former Vice Presidential candidate) Paul Ryan and nearly as many feel that way about former Arkansas Governor (and current television host) Mike Huckabee.

Democrats and Chris Christie

But Christie’s biggest weakness in this poll may be reflected in what has been thought of as his general election campaign advantage – a feeling of bipartisanship, a perception which may have been fostered in 2012 by his kind words for President Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy devastated part of New Jersey.

The New Jersey Governor had always been Democrats’ first choice for the GOP 2016 nomination. That remains the case in this poll, mostly because Democrats have negative views of all the other Republican possibilities.

While more Democrats like Christie than have favorable views of other potential GOP contenders, they still don’t like him. The George Washington Bridge lane closures were aimed, after all, at punishing a Democratic mayor who did not endorse Christie in his gubernatorial election campaign last year. And by 43% to 35%, Democrats hold an unfavorable view of Christie.

Independents divide evenly in their views of Christie.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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