Chris Christie's popularity has declined significantly over the first half of 2011 and he would have a very difficult time winning reelection if voters in New Jersey went to the polls today.
Only 43% of voters in the state approve of the job Christie is doing to 53% who disapprove. That -10 approval spread represents a 13 point decline from when PPP last polled the state in January, when Christie's standing was 48/45. Christie's numbers are steady with Republicans. But independents have really turned on him, going from approving by a 55/39 margin to disapproving by a 54/40 margin. And his crossover popularity with Democrats is on the decline as well- where 23% approved of him in January now only 16% do.
The fallout of Christie's declining approval numbers is that he would now trail Newark Mayor Cory Booker in a hypothetical 2013 match up, 47-43. Booker is an extremely popular political figure, with 43% of voters expressing a positive opinion of him to only 16% with a negative one. He still has 2 things going for him that Christie no longer does- he's very well liked with independents (a 35/13 favorability spread) and he has a lot of appeal across party lines (just as many Republicans- 26%- like him as dislike him. Booker actually leads Christie 43-42 with independents, a group GOP candidates really need to win by a wide margin to be successful statewide in New Jersey.
Christie would also find himself in a tough battle with a couple other major Democratic political figures. Congressman Frank Pallone would fight Christie to a tie at 43%. That's despite the fact that only 38% of voters in the state even know who Pallone is, and those who do don't have a particularly positive image of him. And Christie would lead his recent foil, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, only 42-40. That match up is close even though voters across the state have quite a dim view of Sweeney with only 13% saying they see him positively to 37% with an unfavorable opinion.
It's not even a given that Christie would be able to win another match up against his predecessor and the man he defeated for the job, Jon Corzine. Asked how they would vote if they could do the 2009 election for Governor all over again 48% say they would pick Christie and 48% say they would pick Corzine. Our final 2009 poll found Christie beating Corzine by 23 points with independents. Now that margin would be just 11 points. Corzine ties Christie even though he remains an unpopular figure in the state with just 39% of voters rating him positively to 47% with a negative opinion.
Finally we also- at the request of our blog readers and just for fun- looked to see how Bruce Springsteen would fare in a run against Christie. Each would start out at 42%, but there's a lot more room for growth for the Boss because while only 4% of Republicans are undecided, 23% of Democrats say they're not sure who they would vote for. If Springsteen ran and came across as a credible candidate he'd likely see a large increase in that Democratic support. Springsteen has favorability numbers any politician would die for- 50% of voters see him positively to only 22% with an unfavorable opinion. He has favorable numbers across party lines although perhaps because of his well known politics he's seen a good deal more positively by Democrats (63/10) than Republicans (38/35).
Christie has plenty of time to rehabilitate his numbers in the next two years and change but it's clear that New Jersey voters are souring on him and that he'd have an uphill battle for reelection if he was up this year.
Full results here