New Jersey voters were fine with Chris Christie staying at Disney World instead of coming back to deal with the snow storm the state had a couple weeks ago. But they're also very fond of Cory Booker and a hypothetical contest between the two of them in 2013 would start out as a tie.
First the Christie numbers: it's clear his handling of the snow storm has not and is not likely to do him any long term political damage. Voters are pretty evenly divided on his leadership regarding the storm- 43% approve and 44% disapprove- folks would have to be much more universal in their unhappiness with him for this to have a real impact on his overall political standing. Those numbers mostly reflect folks who already like him saying he did a good job and folks who already dislike him saying he did a bad job.
Focusing in more specifically on the question of whether he should have abandoned his vacation to deal with the storm, 49% of voters say Christie was right to stay at Disney World to just 39% who think he should have come back.
Although much of the focus on Christie's political future has been on a Presidential bid he's a long way from being able to take even a second term as Governor of New Jersey for granted, particularly if Newark Mayor Cory Booker were to challenge him two years from now. Booker is remarkably popular across the state with 46% of voters viewing him favorably to only 16% with a negative opinion. The number of politicians in the country with nearly 3:1 favorability ratings these days is pretty short.
What's most striking within the figures on Booker is how well liked he is across party lines. Although he is unsurprisingly most popular with Democrats at a 51/12 favorability, he also has a 47/17 spread with independents, and even a 36/21 with Republicans. There just aren't very many Democrats who Republicans like right now, especially in a state as polarized as New Jersey.
In a hypothetical contest between Booker and Christie the two tie at 42% each. Those numbers are actually misleadingly good for Christie though. 21% of Democrats are undecided in such a match up while only 7% of Republicans are. That's probably a reflection of 38% of voters in the state still not having an opinion about Booker. More likely than not most of those undecided Democrats would end up in Booker's camp if this match up ever did become a reality.
That a popular Democrat like Booker would probably defeat Christie if there was an election today shouldn't come as any real surprise. Christie's election was never about his being unusually popular- it was about Jon Corzine being unusually unpopular and even with Corzine's disapproval rating hovering up near 60% Christie could still only muster a 4 point victory in 2009.
Of course the good news for Christie is that he doesn't have to worry about any of this for quite a while yet. And his approval numbers are pretty good for a Republican in New Jersey. But it's clear that Booker's appeal goes well beyond the boundaries of Newark and he will be a formidable candidate for some future political office if he decides he wants to move up.
Full results here