New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was once thought to be a major contender for the 2016 presidential elections. Now, it looks like his chances are pretty much nonexistent.
When FiveThirtyEight ranked 2016 hopefuls by comparing their name recognition to their current poll performance in January, it found Christie’s net favorability rating was 25 percentage points below that of someone who could win the nomination. With updated polls, the site now finds Christ worse off: 41 percentage points below what he would need. Whether it’s the Bridgegate scandal or his politics, it’s pretty clear: Republican voters are not interested in Christie as a nominee.
Was Bridgegate an insurmountable scandal?
It’s possible the Bridgegate scandal of 2013 may have finally done him in. While Christie wasn’t found guilty of participating in a scheme to shut down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013, some of his closest allies were. Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and a Christie appointee to the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, have both been indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, while former Port Authority executive David Wildstein pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy.
When the charges came down, Christie released a statement reiterating his claim to having no involvement in the conspiracy. “Today’s charges make clear that what I’ve said from day one is true, I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act,” he said. “The moment I first learned of this unacceptable behavior I took action, firing staff believed to be accountable, calling for an outside investigation and agreeing to fully cooperate with all appropriate investigations, which I have done.”
But it’s still out there that, Alan Zegas, Wildstein’s attorney, claimed that Christie knew about the lane closures. According to the Huffington Post, State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat and co-chairman of a legislative committee investigating the scandal, said that with Wildstein’s guilty plea, “the people of New Jersey have more reason to be skeptical of Gov. Christie’s leadership style built upon bullying and retaliation.”
While we’ve seen Hillary Clinton brush off recent scandals, there may be less room for huge negative stories in the crowded Republican arena. FiveThirtyEight marks Christie’s net favorable rating stands at +3 percentage points, much too low for how widely known the politician is. The site also notes that the governor is unpopular in the important primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.