Chris Christie is betting his presidential campaign on independent Republican voters in New Hampshire. And that looks like an uphill struggle, according to a new Newstimesuk.com poll that shows 60 percent of primary voters want him out of the race now.
Yet at the same time the former New Jersey governor came in joint third behind Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.
It all boils down to one love-or-hate-him, take-him-or-leave-him, who polarizes voters like Trump’s mirror image and casts him as a potential wild card.
‘Chris Christie may come in third in our poll in New Hampshire, but all signs are that he has a solid edge in the vote,’ said James Johnson of JL Partners, who conducted the poll.
‘He is the most disliked person in the race, with half of the state’s primary voters holding an unfavorable view of him.
‘It will be a particularly brutal lesson for the former New Jersey governor who six in ten think he should drop out of the race.’
Our new poll shows the state of the Republican primary race in New Hampshire. It also has a mixed message for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with six in 10 voters wanting him to resign.
Christie is building his campaign on a strong showing in New Hampshire’s first primary, where he hopes his ability to win over independents will prove decisive.
Christie has branded himself as the Trump killer in the race, attacking the front-runners — and his former allies — while the rest of the field plays it safe so as not to alienate the former president’s legions of fans.
And he believes his record as a Republican governor in a blue state stands him in good stead in New Hampshire, where primary voters tend to be less conservative than in the next primary state, Iowa.
He will get a boost from the 591 registered Republicans and others planning to request primary ballots.
It showed he received eight percent of the vote, up from one percent in April. That puts him in joint third place with Sen. Tim Scott, numbers that have eaten into Trump and DeSantis’ share.
At the same time, 60 percent said they want Christie out of the race now. Among Trump voters, that number rises to 80 percent.
And he has the worst favorable rating. About 50 percent say they feel unfavorably toward him, while only 21 percent say they view him favorably.
When asked why they would hesitate to vote for Christie, the most popular answer is that he is not Trump. Others called him a rino (Republican in name only) or referred to the Bridgegate scandal, which cast a long shadow over his 2016 presidential run.
‘I’m worried about her weight,’ said another respondent.
Q: ‘What would be your biggest hesitation about voting for Chris Christie in the Republican presidential primary?’ He’s not Trump is the most common response
Our new poll shows how the two leading candidates have seen their support shares shrink as Christie and Scott gain momentum, especially among New Hampshire voters.
But the reactions in general show how Trump and his message have captured the imagination of voters. So Christie is considered ‘part of the swamp’ or ‘big government’.
For his part, Christie continues to play down the early poll results.
And commentators say his combative style means he could have a breakout moment in the first debate on Aug. 23, like when he took down Sen. Marco Rubio in a viral moment in the 2016 debate.
“Christie could dominate the first primary debate — and block the other candidates,” Johnson said.
“But data suggests he doesn’t have the political steam to run second in the Granite State.”
Christie appeared frequently with Donald Trump in 2016 after he dropped out of the race
Neil Levesque, director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, said it’s too early to judge. Wise voters in the state prefer to take their time before making their decisions, he said.
“If he gets on the debate stage, or during key points of the campaign he’s able to show that he’s a strong candidate for president and can create a contrast with Trump, that could be the moment,” he said.
‘While the challenge for these candidates is somewhat, you have to be able to challenge the former president.’
Christie has been the most outspoken of the candidates in attacking Trump.
‘The reason I’m going after Trump is twofold,’ he said at the launch of his campaign last month. ‘One, he deserves. And two, it’s a way to win.’
He’s hoping a strong showing in New Hampshire can knock off rivals and show he’s best placed to unseat Trump in the race. But in 2016 he garnered just seven percent of the primary vote and was soon dropped.
Last week he played down the results of the New Hampshire polls.
‘If you think back to 2016, Trump was never leading in any polls. Until election night,’ he told USA Today. ‘People are reluctant to say they’re for Trump when a pollster calls because it wasn’t politically correct to say you were for Trump.
‘Now, it’s not politically correct to say you’re against Donald Trump.’
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