Poll: BridgeGate Puts Christie 8 Points Behind Clinton in 2016
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's poll numbers continue to fall precipitously with every new poll released. Today, a Quinnipiac poll is showing Christie trailing potential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by 9 points in a hypothetical matchup.
If the 2016 presidential election were held today, Clinton would win 46%-38% against Christie. The change is a dramatic one from last November, when Quinnipiac found that Christie would win 43%-42% against the former Secretary of State. In December, Quinnipiac found that the numbers barely changed, the score then being 42%-41% in Christie's favor.
Quinnipiac found that the drop in support was directly related to the numerous scandals plaguing Christie this month, beginning with the controversy surrounding his now former aides closing lanes of the George Washington Bridge in an apparent attempt to hurt the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. The poll found that 34% of voters were "less inclined" to vote for Christie because of that scandal, though 39% said they did not take the scandal into consideration. Christie is fighting a second, unrelated scandal over misuse of Hurricane Sandy funds, and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer alleges that she was threatened with not receiving funds if she did not approve of a real estate project linked to Christie allies.
Christie's biggest loss was among independents, with whom he once enjoyed a 15% advantage last month. He is currently losing independents by one point, 41% to 40%. This echoes the results of a Pew Research Center poll released yesterday, which showed that while Republicans and Democrats largely maintained their original opinions of Christie-- and Tea Party Republicans had long abandoned support for the governor-- independents' opinions were heavily influenced by the unraveling of Christie's scandals this month.
What the results do not echo, however, are the results of polls taken of New Jersey voters only. Highlighting the large gap between the attitudes of national presidential election voters and those who actually voted Christie into office, a poll taken shortly after Christie's two-hour press conference disavowing blame for the scandal found that New Jerseyans considered Christie less of a bully after the scandal than they did beforehand.
Independent of their personal opinions on the matter, voters also answered whether they saw the bridge scandal as having a broader effect with all voters. More than half answered that Christie's presidential hopes were either "damaged" or completely gone because of the scandal, despite many voters personally answering it did not affect their opinion of Christie.
Christie trailing Clinton is not new throughout the year-long history of polling them side-to-side. An NBC poll last November found the opposite results to Quinnipiac: that Clinton would run away with the general election. And even when winning in Quinnipiac's polls, Christie's advantage seemed never to surpass one or two percentage points. But losing to Clinton-- who Quinnipiac notes is by far considered the Democratic frontrunner-- takes one of Christie's most valuable feathers out of his cap. Throughout his scandals and his many abrasive public confrontations, Christie supporters have stuck with him because studies showed he had the potential to win missing from ostensibly toothless candidates like Mitt Romney. A month a head of the last poll, Christie seems to have lost that magic, making the argument to keep him around as a major contender against potential candidates who have a lot to gain from his demise less valuable.
Read the full results of Quinnipiac's latest poll here.