Christie jumps to 2nd in New Hampshire as numbers plummet in NJ
Governor Chris Christie's New Hampshire strategy is paying off, as he doubled his numbers and vaulted into second place in a new poll released Friday.
WBUR's poll of likely New Hampshire Republican voters has Christie the choice of 12 percent of likely GOP primary voters, trailing Donald Trump, who has 27 percent. Close behind Christie are Marco Rubio with 11 percent, and Ted Cruz with 10 percent. Jeb Bush and John Kaisch are polling at 8 and 7 percent, respectively.
Dean Spiliotes, a political professor at Southern New Hampshire University, said Christie is successfully "playing by the classic New Hampshire retail politics playbook, and the thinking is that typically those candidates get rewarded in the end."
He noted that Christie spent more time in New Hampshire than any other candidate and is positioning himself successfully to be seen as an alternative to Trump.
But Christie's New Jersey numbers have been dropping, while he's spent little of the last few months at home. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, released Thursday, shows that Christie’s overall job approval now stands at just 33 percent among New Jersey voters. That’s a drop of six points since October. To add to the bad news at home, the governor’s disapproval rating has jumped six points to 62 percent.
The New Hampshire poll shows that Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, who were in the top fivve in the fall, have fallen into single digits. Will Christie suffer the same fate of peaking too soon in the poll?
Spiliotes thinks Christie will benefit from the holiday break that will follow Tuesday's CNN debate.
"Stuff will heat back up in January" politically, but Spiliotes thinks Christie has to continue the momentum.
Criticism of Trump's recent comments about Muslims from Jennifer Horn, the chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, and Steve Duprey, the state's representative to the Republican National Committee, have ruffled the feathers of some voters who expect people in those positions to stay neutral.
"There are a number of conservatives and Tea Party types who say people are uncomfortable because they say Trump speaks the truth," said Spiliotes. "The people who like him like him even more; the people who don't like him like him even less."
Voters are also frustrated that in a large field of candidatesm most of the attention is focused on The Donald, he said.
"They should be getting a closer look but can't break into the narrative," he said.
Spiliotes also listened to New Jersey 101.5's Ask the Governor for the first time this week and said the Christie he heard taking on Senate President Steve Sweeney over pensions "was a whole another level of combativeness that we don't hear up here from him. People call him blunt? He was calling people idiots!" laughed Spiliotes.