Christie in 2016?

After his big win Tuesday night, Chris Christie is certainly the media’s man of the moment.  Take that liberal media bias.  And speculation for his prospects in 2016 are at a fever pitch.  Chait throws some cold water on all this:

 Four basic, interrelated problems stand between Christie and the 2016 nomination:

1. His ideological deviations are not fake. They’re real. Christie hasopenly endorsed gun controlcalled for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and conceded the legitimacy of climate science (“But when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role it’s time to defer to the experts.”)

The largest, and least appreciated, of Christie’s betrayals of party doctrine is his decision to participate in the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. Some other Republican governors have made the same decision, but they have all faced unrelenting and bitter opposition from legislators of their party and conservative activists. Unyielding hatred to every aspect of Obamacare, regardless of its practical impact, has become the main doctrinal tenet of conservative thought. That alone could potentially disqualify him.

In the one sense, Chait seems totally right to me.  How can a guy with these positions ever win in the Republican primaries.  That said, I think one might have said similar things about Mitt Romney– especially on the health care angle– back in the day.  If the establishment comes out all behind Christie, there’s every reason to think he should win.  The establishment candidate pretty much always wins the Republican primaries.  And, it’s awfully tempting to say, “but things are different now– there’s never been a Tea party before.”  And that very well may be true.  But people love to say “but this time is different” and more often than not, it’s not actually different.

A big problem for Christie is that he’s still actually serving as governor.  It was easy for Romney to run away from his moderate record when he was a full-time Republican presidential candidate.  Christie does not have that luxury.  He actually wants to effectively govern in a blue state– which demands compromise and moderation from a Republican.  Compromise and moderation are not exactly the principles with which one wins over Republican primary voters.  If I were Democrats in Jersey, I would certainly do everything possible to continually put Christie in difficult positions that will be hard for him to defend in the Republican primaries.

Meanwhile in the Atlantic, Garance Franke-Rute writes that Christie does not have a likability problem:

Chris Christie’s landslide reelection victory Tuesday in New Jersey has prompteda new round of articles arguing he’s temperamentally and politically unsuited to being president, a pugnacious Northeasterner who won’t connect out on the hustings in real ‘Murica if he makes a bid in 2016…

On the most basic test of likability—is Christie a guy it would be a blast to have a beer with?—it seems impossible to answer no. People at the State Fair will enjoy his presence, because Christie is a politician who knows how to enjoy the quintessence of local commercial goofiness, which is much of what the State Fair is. Give that man spatula and set him to flipping pork chops: Anyone who can charmingly answer the phone at Hot Dog Johnny’s can do retail politics in primary states…

Christie has a quality rarely found in politics: Instead of sounding like a generic politician, he sounds like himself. “Authenticity” is not something that can be scripted, though sometimes consultants find it worthwhile to sand it down a bit around the edges. There’s no question that Christie can appeal to Democrats in a general election in a relatively middle-of-the-road state. In New Jersey, the same voters who overwhelmingly elected him to a second term also raised the minimum wage in their state on Tuesday. And he proved he can also woo Latinos and women, winning the majority of them in New Jersey Tuesday. According toGallup polling in June, Christie is the potential Republican presidential contender looked on most favorably by Democrats.  [emphasis mine]

All true.  Christie does seem to have very strong personal appeal.  However, that last highlighted phrase at first gives me pause.  Really, the Republican most acceptable to Democrats wins the nomination?  But that was probably the case with McCain and Romney.

So, 2016?  My money is still on a Tea Party guy (e.g., Cruz, Rubio, etc.) winning the nomination.  But it sure ain’t a lot money.  Starting in 2015 we’re in for a lot of fun in this race.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Christie in 2016?

  1. John F. says:

    First off, it’s Jersey, a state which has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the country. Secondly, and this is where Jersey comes in, optics matter, and no president since Harrison has been as morbidly obese as this man. That may fly in Jersey, it certainly won’t in Iowa especially not with him standing next to a man with the good looks of a greasy used car salesman, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. I think he never makes it through the primary and even his luster in Jersey wears off.

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