Republican Chris Christie Up Big in a Democratic State [AUDIO]
NEW JERSEY 101.5
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 700,000 in New Jersey. Despite that fact, GOP Gov. Chris Christie leads his Democratic challenger Sen. Barbara Buono by anywhere from 20 to 30 points in recent polls.
Those same polls also show voters support same-sex marriage, a millionaires' tax increase and a hike in the minimum wage. Buono also supports all three while Christie doesn't, and still it appears she will get trounced in today's election.
So what gives?
"One of Buono's biggest challenges is that she is unknown," explained Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin. "The polls this week show that 40 percent of the public still has no opinion of her."
Another problem for Buono is she has run into a buzz saw in the popular and media-savvy Christie.
"Chris Christie is a tremendous politician and has been working toward this reelection since the day he was inaugurated," said Dworkin. "We also have to look to Superstorm Sandy. Sandy made the Governor beyond just a partisan governor. That's why the Christie campaign ads are talking about Chris Christie the governor. They don't say Chris Christie the Republican."
According to Dworkin, Christie is his own brand and because of that he's been able to reach out and secure the support of a vast majority of independent voters and even a sizable number of Democrats. How is the latter possible in a blue state?
Dworkin explained New Jersey is not always so Democrat leaning.
"This notion that New Jersey is a blue state really applies to federal elections," said Dworkin. "We're much more purple when it comes to gubernatorial elections and the fact is that Chris Christie is doing much better running for governor than he would necessarily running for U.S. Senate where his issues on abortion rights and his knowledge of foreign policy issues would come into question."
It is possible that no Democrat really had a shot to beat Christie this year said Dworkin.
"This was always going to be an uphill battle for any Democrat and that's why so many of the top-tier candidates chose not to jump into the race in the first place," said Dworkin. "Barbara Buono deserves full credit for having the courage and the gumption to even try, but in the final analysis she has not run a particularly effective campaign either."