NEW YORK — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, once a darling in the Republican Party, is now everybody’s darling in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
With his highly visible visits to storm-damaged coastal towns with President Barack Obama, not to mention a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live, the blunt, brash governor has been winning over independents, Democrats and others who like the bipartisan image.
For all the havoc Sandy unleashed upon New Jersey, the storm put Christie in a politically enviable position, especially now that he is formally seeking re-election next year and touted as a top prospect for the White House in 2016.
But that also makes it his advantage to lose, say political experts. Christie need only look across the Hudson River, where Rudolph Giuliani’s wide popularity as mayor of New York in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks proved fleeting.
For now, Christie is riding high on cross-over appeal, in his home state and neighbouring New York at least. In a Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday, a whopping 67 per cent of New Jersey voters said he deserves a second term. It showed Christie leading his most likely Democratic opponent, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, by 18 points.
A poll yesterday illustrated the shift in support for Christie pre- and post-Sandy. The Rutgers-Eagleton poll showed 59 per cent of registered state voters support him for a second term, and 32 per cent are opposed. That is way up from late September, when 44 per cent supported him but 47 were opposed.
“Up until the storm, he really has been one of the more polarising governors,” said David Redlawsk, a political science professor at Rutgers and director of the poll. “People either felt really positive or very negative towards him.
“What we don’t know is whether this dramatic shift is going to be something long term or is it simply a reflection of the aftermath of the crisis,” he said. (Reuters)