Chris Christie Is Rarely in New Jersey, and It’s Hurting Him at Home
The Wall Street Journal last night posted a story headlined, “Chris Christie’s Absences From New Jersey Are Being Noticed.” In it, reporter Heather Haddon notes that Christie was out of New Jersey some or all of the day for 261 days this year — or 72 percent of 2015. New Jersey’s native son was basically in New Hampshire more than New Jersey.
And it’s not stopping anytime soon: “Most of the rest of January, I think I’ll be home to pick up new clothes and then go someplace else,” the New Jersey governor said in an interview in December. “I think it will probably be a pretty busy month.” And why not? He is running for president, and with a dozen candidates still remaining in the race, he needs to get his name out there. Besides, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno — who oversaw state affairs 17 days last month alone — said “[t]here is no time that I’ve not reached out to him in the last six years that he hasn’t answered the phone or texted right away.”
Fair enough. Unfortunately for Christie, the people of New Jersey don’t like their governor to be of the absentee variety. In a recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, 62 percent of N.J. voters disapprove of his performance. Only 33 percent approve.
This is not surprising. Christie won office in 2009 due in part to his reputation as a corruption-busting U.S. Attorney, but also because former Gov. Jon Corzine had an approval rating in the low 30s.
But Christie then really hit his popularity stride due in part to crisscrossing New Jersey holding town halls, attacking public unions and dialoguing (and debating, and arguing with) constituents. By June 2012, Christie attracted the highest rating in that Rutgers-Eagleton poll, a 50 percent approval rating.
But now he’s not around as much, and his ratings are falling. Things have gotten so bad that in the latest presidential poll in Jersey he’s actually trailing Donald Trump — 30 percent to 14 percent. He’s losing to the guy who many New Jerseyans know pretty well, the guy who lost all his casinos in Atlantic City.
Christie is in his second term as governor, and perhaps he’ll do whatever it is former governors do if he fails to win the nomination. In states other than Pennsylvania, that usually means hitting the speaking circuit and heading to a lucrative law firm gig; here they wear plastic bags on their heads while analyzing the Eagles.
But all his work out of state hasn’t led him to huge gains elsewhere. He’s up to an 11 percent polling average in New Hampshire, which puts him in fourth, about 15 points behind Trump. If he loses the nomination, Christie is going to be returning to a New Jersey that doesn’t really seem to like him anymore.
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