Christie still hasn’t connected with voters: Here’s what he’s trying next
If there is a big issue that really resonates with voters, the polls suggest that Gov. Chris Christie’s hasn’t found it yet.
“Chris Christie began this campaign for president by saying he was going to tell it like it is. He was going to be the straight talker in the Republican primary field and then (Donald) Trump came in and effectively took that away from him,” said Ben Dworkin, political science professor at Rider University. “A few weeks ago the Christie campaign tried a different message, looking for something that was going to resonate with voters and they started talking about lawlessness.”
The law-and-order strategy didn’t work out very well, according to Dworkin, and that’s why Christie is now branding himself as the adult and the mature candidate in the field of Republican presidential hopefuls.
"Voters’ sentiment changes. Their perceptions change. Salient issues of the day change so all candidates are searching for that touch point for voters and let’s face it; it’s a moving target. Candidates are in constant search for that connection to voters,” said Peter Woolley, political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
It’s not just Christie changing or tweaking the message, Woolley said. He explained that the governor’s campaign team was also trying to find that key issue and pull Christie up in the polls.
According to Real Clear Politics, which averages surveys nationally and in key voting states, Christie has 2.6 percent support in national Republican presidential nomination surveys and 4.7 percent in New Hampshire. That places him in ninth nationally, 20 points behind front-runner Donald Trump and eight in New Hampshire, where the first place Trump has an 18 percent edge over Christie.
Changing campaign messages is the rule rather than the exception, according to Dworkin.
“It is rare that you see one theme from the announcement through the nomination,” he explained.
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.