New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday announced he is running for president. Christie made the announcement at an event at Livingston High School, his alma mater. Christie told supporters he is reading to fight for the people of the United States of America. Christie has now become the 14th Republican to enter the presidential race. However, he faces a very steep climb to the top of the crowded field. The Bridgegate scandal has consumed most of his governorship over the past year and a half.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week found that 55 percent of Republican primary voters said they could not see themselves supporting Christie. In 2011, Governor Christie was considered a top prospect for the White House, a view expressed in the polls; however, Christie decided not to compete in the 2012 presidential election. He’s well-known among the voters but has low favorability ratings, prompting fivethirtyeight.com, a data journalism site, to declare that Christie doesn’t fit the profile of a nominee.
The site found that Christie was 41 percentage points below what is expected of a future GOP nominee. New Jersey pollster Krista Jenkins acknowledges Christie has a difficult road but can prove the polls wrong. “I’m a pollster so I understand there’s a great appetite regarding who’s up and who’s down. But I think people are reasonable enough to recognize that these polls are largely meaningless at this point,” said Jenkins, a political science professor and executive director of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind polling center. “The vast majority of voters just aren’t paying attention to presidential politics yet because it’s too early, and the first time they’ll become acquainted with the candidates will be when the candidates are on the debate stage.”
The first Republican debate is scheduled for August. Iowa and New Hampshire holds the first nominating events in February. Most nationwide polls put Christie near the bottom of the crowded field. Dick Morris rates Christie’s chances low in a match against Democrat Hillary Clinton, if they emerge as the nominees for the November 2016 general election. “Christie is too big and too boisterous not to be the issue if he were the nominee,” Morris said. “The entire campaign would revolve around him. His gravity is just too strong. He would make himself the centerpiece of the race and it would become a referendum on Christie, much to Hillary’s relief.”
Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said a Christie buzz is missing among likely Republican primary voters. “At this point there’s little question that the chances of Chris Christie winning the Republican nomination appear slim. Would I count him out entirely? No. Campaigns matter and his hasn’t even officially started yet,” Skelley said. “But there is one thing that is going to be tough for Christie to overcome in the GOP primary: his poor favorability among GOP voters. Obviously, rock-ribbed Republicans are going to make up most of the electorate in GOP primaries and caucuses, and it seems they don’t hold Christie in great esteem.”
Prior to his official announcement on Tuesday, he released a video entitled “Tell It Like It Is.” “I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt or too direct and saying what’s on my mind just a little bit too loudly,” Christie said in the video. Christie has crafted an image as an aggressive straight talker. His upfront — even brash — style of dealing with those who question him in public has earned the governor both praise and criticism, but could rub voters the wrong way outside New Jersey. The newly minted GOP presidential candidate heads to New Hampshire later today where he’s hosting a town hall.