Chris Christie is what one might call, “the flavor of the month.” He’s a very popular Republican Governor in the deep blue state of New Jersey. Democrats, liberals, and the media who all loathed the guy just 18 months ago, (the media was calling him a “bully” as late as July of 2012) are all gaga over him. Christie is up for re-election in November and thinks a very big win and just another 2 years serving as Governor will propel him into the race for President in 2016.
Christie earned the accolades he is getting from the talking heads and the media when he decided to hug it out with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy and when he publicly ripped House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP for not passing a disaster relief bill loaded up with all kinds of pork. Christie attempted to claim all of the pork was finally stripped from the bill, but there’s zero truth to that claim.
Still, many are saying Chris Christie is the best chance the GOP has of winning the election in 2016, regardless of who the candidate is for the Democrats (with all assumptions on it being between Biden and Clinton). They say his appeal to moderates is what can win it all for the GOP, particularly after he cruises to victory in November.
But Christie will not be the GOP nominee for many reasons. Here are just five of them:
1. Christie has to win the nomination. – The GOP field is deep for 2016: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush are all possible candidates. We won’t know until the summer/fall of 2015 who exactly will be running, but a list of this magnitude will no doubt keep true pretenders at home.
2. Christie’s record on the second amendment is deplorable. – New Jersey already has some of the toughest and most byzantine gun regulations in the United States (second only to California). Yet Christie wanted to “strengthen” them more. People can complain about the NRA all they want, but they’re relatively popular, and Christie’s position on guns is at odds with a lot of GOP voters.
3. He has a high-profile. So did Rudy Giuliani. – Chris Christie is popular because Chris Christie is popular. An NBC poll out today shows Christie with favorable ratings across the spectrum of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. However, this is a common occurrence. There’s always that one politician who, for some time, stands above all others. It happened with Rudy and as the story points out, it also happened with John McCain and Colin Powell.
4. GOP voters are wary of the “electable” candidate – Where has that gotten the GOP in the last two election cycles? Granted, in 2012, GOP voters were faced with making Mitt Romney the nominee or being stuck with Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. The GOP doesn’t suffer that weakness this time around. All of the potential candidates are “electable.”
5. Support as Governor does not mean support as President – Back in March when Christie’s approval ratings were above 70 and his re-election support was near 60%, a majority of the people in his own state said he would not make a good President. This kind of thing happens. Deval Patrick, Democrat, was elected as Massachusetts Governor in 2006. Prior to his election, the last time the state elected a Democratic governor was Michael Dukakis in 1986.
Christie does benefit from the fact that he has a record as an executive. I’ve always said a candidate is in a stronger position when he can say, “Look what I have done” as opposed to “Look what I have voted for.” The problem for Christie is, he could be facing off against Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, both of whom have strong executive records and have much more appeal to GOP voters.
Finally, Christie is enjoying flattering press, wild eyed pundits who are loving him, and the media’s love of the “horse race” narrative as it relates to elections.
Remember this: What the media giveth, the media also taketh away.
At any point at which Christie should become somewhat of a favorite in 2015, watch out. The fawning press will reveal themselves to be the succubus they truly are. “Questions” about Christie’s temperament will surface as well as “questions” about the “deep cuts” he made to programs that affect “the middle class.”
Don’t put your eggs in the Christie basket. It’s not going to happen.