Chris Christie continues to ride a wave of goodwill. According to a Quinnipiac University poll out this morning, the New Jersey governor has a 74 percent approval rating. A standing unmatched by any of his predecessors in the 17 years of the poll. Even better, from his perspective, Christie enjoys a 56 percent approval rating from Garden State Democrats, 48 percent of whom say he deserves reelection this November.
The reason for Christie’s stratospheric standing isn’t difficult to pinpoint. He’s the Republican governor of a blue state. President Obama carried New Jersey with 58 percent of the vote in the last election. You don’t get Christie’s kind of approval ratings by being a hardened ideologue. You get them by doing what’s right for the people of your state. It also means making tough decisions that anger a lot of the electorate, but earns their grudging respect.
In this age of can-kicking, buck-passing and plain old legislative lethargy (sequester, anyone?!) a politician who says what he means and means what he says is bound to be popular. Of course, not everyone feels this way. The one and only Reba Shimansky, who used to haunt my inbox at the New York Daily News, took me to task after I commented on Christie’s approval rating on “Morning Joe.”
“Chris Christie has been a terrible governor,” Shimansky proclaimed via e-mail. After blaming the media for “protect[ing]” him and not reporting “his awful record as governor,” she then blamed Christie and his policies for New Jersey’s unemployment rate, which is 9.6 percent. That’s almost two points higher than the national jobless number. Shimansky also hammered him for vetoing a millionaire’s tax and killing a rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey.
“Just because Christie had a photo-op with President Obama during Hurricane Sandy does not make Christie bipartisan,” Shimansky wrote. “That is just good politics in a state where democrats outnumber Republicans.” What’s also good politics is Christie’s willingness to lambast the congressional leaders of his own party. He notably did this last month when he felt Speaker Boehner and House Republicans were dragging their feet on federal disaster relief.
Legendary New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia famously said, “There is no Democratic or Republican way to pick up garbage.” Christie is but the latest public official to reap the benefit of adhering to this wise governing principle.