Could Christie’s frequent trips eventually could hurt him?
Most New Jersey voters don't seem to care about Gov. Chris Christie's out-of-state travels, a Garden State political science professor says. But his presidential prospects could be damaged if he happens to be gone when a crisis occurs back home.
The governor was back in New Jersey Wednesday after a three-day trade mission to England, but he is scheduled to leave again Monday to speak at a Republican event in Iowa.
Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said: "On the average day the average New Jerseyan has no clue as to whether the governor is in New Jersey or not in New Jersey. The lights are on, the roads are working, the bridges are working and people go about their business and they don't really notice if the governor happens to be in his office or someplace else."
But the governor could feel the wrath of the residents of New Jersey under certain circumstances, Dworkin said.
"It's the moment that is unexpected when there's a snow storm or a terrible accident or a tremendous fire and you're in Iowa and can't get back. That's when it matters," he said.
In recent polls the governor's approval numbers have dipped and Dworkin predicted that could continue to happen if Christie is frequently gone from the Garden State.
In a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday, 47 percent of New Jersey residents said that Christie's travel schedule and potential presidential plans have had no impact on his performance as governor and nine percent say this has actually made him more effective, but 40 percent said that the presidential campaign focus has made Christie less effective as governor.
"When the governor spends so much time out of state there is definitely a hit to his popularity, but I don't think the governor is really worried about his popularity in New Jersey. He's far more worried about his popularity in Iowa and New Hampshire," Dworkin said.
A run for the White House would entail a tremendous amount of out-of-state travel, but Christie has insisted he can govern the state from anywhere.
"He's running for president. That's what it sounds like to me and that's fine, but he's still the governor of the State of New Jersey and our issues have to be addressed," said State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) in January after Christie delivered his State of the State Address. "Listen if he wants to travel around the country that's fine. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about getting our economy going, funding our pensions, funding our TTF (Transportation Trust Fund)."