Poll finds Republicans resistant to Chris Christie presidential candidacy
Video: His invite got lost in the mail last year, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was still the hot topic of conversation at CPAC. So what were conservatives saying?
March 03 2014
By Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill
As conservatives gather in the Washington area on Thursday for three days of speeches from prospective 2016 presidential candidates and discussions about the future of the GOP, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that three in 10 of all Republicans say they would not vote for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if he ran for the White House.
Christie addressed the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday morning. He was not invited to speak at last year’s event. What he said and the reception he received will be closely watched and analyzed, and the new survey underscores the obstacles Christie will face if he seeks his party’s nomination in 2016.
The poll also found that former Florida governor Jeb Bush has problems of a different kind. He is more popular in the Republican Party than Christie but faces potential head winds as a candidate. The Post-ABC poll found that almost half of all Americans, and 50 percent of registered voters, say they “definitely would not” vote for him for president — a possible hangover from the presidency of his brother George W. Bush.
The overall findings underscore the degree to which the contest for the GOP nomination in 2016 is as wide open as any in the modern era. The poll found that there is no obvious beneficiary to Christie’s problems within the party or Jeb Bush’s apparent problem with the wider electorate. Many of those thinking about running have made little impression on the general public and in some cases they are not even well known among Republicans.
The survey asked about nine Republicans, most of them thinking seriously about running in 2016, and one Democrat, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Twenty-five percent of all Americans say they “definitely would” vote for the former secretary of state, while 41 percent say they would consider doing so. Thirty-two percent of all Americans (and 37 percent of registered voters) say they definitely would not.
Christie’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the past few months. After winning reelection handily in the fall, the governor was touted as the favorite of the GOP establishment to lead the party in 2016. He was considered a straight-talking Republican who knew how to attract support in a heavily Democratic state.
Since then, he has been badly damaged politically by the controversy over a four-day traffic snarl in September that appears to have been ordered by his aides and advisers as political retribution. Christie fired those directly involved and said he had no direct knowledge of the incident when it happened. He is facing two investigations, one by the state legislature and the other by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
The poll does not provide information that could distinguish how much Christie’s problems are a result of the controversy and how much they reflect general skepticism toward him among conservatives.