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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christie Can't Be Fighting Democrats for the GOP While Defending His Credibility

Governor Chris Christie has lost his momentum as the Republican front runner for the 2016 US presidential nomination.  

A lingering specter of the hugely preventable traffic jam on the congested George Washington Bridge on the September 11, 2013 weekend is a difficult image to overcome, especially when the governor's staff was involved in making it happen. Yet, the real problem is how the consequences of this incident are now a roadblock to his Republican leadership. 

Governor Christie can't exert himself as a Republican leader while he's defending against corruption, abuse of power, bullying and political favoritism. His future depends on being able to crawl out of this self inflicted mess with a state legislature dominated by Democrats who are investigating him and serving his staff with subpoenas. In other words, Christie is now forced to deal with Democrats. This is like putting a Crucifix in the face of a vampire. Right wing Republicans, especially the uncompromising right wing extremists, incredulously want to support a bully who gets things done their way, regardless of the consequences caused to ordinary people. 

The National Memo reports on how Governor Christie's popularity is slipping. No kidding?

In a major warning sign to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), a new USA Today/Pew Research Center poll shows the Republican’s popularity slipping – even outside the tri-state area.

The embattled governor is facing questions over his possible involvement in or knowledge of lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September and his use – or misuse – of Superstorm Sandy relief funds during his 2013 re-election campaign.

Although 38 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of Christie – as opposed to the 40 percent who said the same a year ago – 34 percent now view him unfavorably. That’s double the number that said the same last year.

USA Today points out that the jump in people who view Christie unfavorably may be because “many more of those interviewed had heard of Christie” this year than last year. Back in 2013, 26 percent of respondents said they had not heard of Christie, but only 16 percent say the same today.

This might be bad news for the governor who was considered by many as the GOP’s best bet for 2016; whatever nationwide attention he has recently garnered has primarily been focused on the scandals plaguing his administration.

Another red flag for the presidential hopeful is the decline in his popularity among Democrats and Independents. 

Part of Christie’s appeal – and sometimes a subject of attack from the far right – is his perceived ability to work with Democrats. Independents – 47 percent of whom now hold an unfavorable opinion of the governor – are also important if Christie chooses to run as a moderate in 2016.

The poll also shows that 45 percent of Americans have “heard a lot” about the “Bridgegate” scandal, and another 28 percent say they know “a little” about it. Of those who know about the scandal, only 32 percent believe Christie’s claim that he played no role in and was unaware of the lane closures that caused major traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey – where the mayor, Mark Sokolich (D), declined to endorse Christie for reelection.

Only 27 percent of Americans say they do not know anything about the bridge scandal.

For now Christie’s only hope seems to be a conclusion to the ongoing investigations – one that proves he did not prioritize politics over his duties as governor. 

But, proving this comes with political trade-offs.

Meanwhile, of course, Governor Christie must lead New Jersey while being investigated by a Democratic legislature who are investigating him for corruption.  

Seems like a toxic cocktail for Republicans. It's a venomous pill they are highly unlikely to swallow, regardless of how Christie shovels himself out of this Democratic avalanche.

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