The Star Ledger’s Paul Mulshine highlights two polls, one in South Carolina and one in Florida, in which Christie is stuck far back in the GOP pack in also-ran land.
Now a couple of new polls show just how far the New Jersey governor has fallen. Gravis Marketing just released polls of potential Republican primary voters in South Carolina and Florida. Those would be the two races immediately following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary next year.
In South Carolina, Bush barely edges out Walker for the lead with both in the high teens. Next come Lindsay Graham, the South Carolina senator who’s not likely to be a factor in any state other than his own if he decides to run. Then there’s Mike Huckabee, who’s not a realistic candidate either and is unlikely to declare. Finally Christie weighs in at about 8 percent.
What the polls also demonstrate, for now, is the GOP primary appears to be a Scott Walker vs. Jeb Bush race. It’s worth noting that it’s extremely early and there remains plenty of time for things to change.
The same is true in Florida, where Bush and Walker are again neck-and-neck. Bush has a slight lead but Walker’s right up there with him, a very encouraging sign when you consider Bush is a former Florida governor.
As for Christie, once again he’s fallen below the Ben Carson Line, as he did in the Conservative Political Action Conference Straw Poll. Carson was not include in the S.C. poll, but he was in Florida. And his inclusion knocked Christie all the way down to sixth at a mere 6 percent.
I use the term “Ben Carson Line” because it reminds me of the “Mendoza Line” in baseball, which was named for a good-fielding shortstop whose batting average hung around .200. The idea is that even for an excellent fielder, there’s a line below which the batting average cannot drop.
Mulshine’s contention is that Christie blew it primarily due to NJ politics — he focused on the wrong issues and also made powerful enemies. He also suggests Christie’s best bet may be to wait until the GOP primary rolls into large blue states. That might help, but, at this point, it’s hard to see Christie beating a Team Bush there. Christie peaked early and was all but annointed the nominee well before the field started to take shape. Now, if he doesn’t shape up quickly, he may be one of the first men out.
That was because he focused his campaign not on building the Republican brand in New Jersey and sweeping others into office, but on building up his own image. That required winning the support of Democratic mayors. And when a certain Democratic mayor of Fort Lee didn’t go along, the Bridgegate scandal ensued.
But in the short time after the election when he was still riding high, Christie sparked an intra-party coup against Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. The coup failed, but it succeeded in alienating the Kean family, perhaps the longest-standing pillars of the Eastern establishment.