Polls: Scandal has had little impact on Christie


The political world is consumed with lingering questions about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and his staff's involvement in a manufactured traffic jam.

But polling suggests that, while Christie has paid a price for the controversy, it's been a relatively small one.

And most of his constituents don't think he was involved in the wrongdoing.

A new Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll shows Christie's approval rating stands at 59 percent, with just 32 percent disapproving. Last month, 65 percent of New Jersey residents approved of Christie -- a dropoff of 6 percent.

Almost all of Christie's dropoff comes among independents (down 11 points since last month) and Democrats (down nine points).

New Jerseyans appear to be giving Christie the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the bridge controversy. A majority (52 percent) say they don't believe he was involved in the plot, while just about one-third (34 percent) say they think he was. No evidence thus far has linked Christie to the decision to cause a traffic jam.

Three-fourths of voters (75 percent) say such political retaliation is "pretty common" in politics.

Where Christie does seem to have paid a significant price is when it comes to his potential presidential prospects. While in September 56 percent said he had the right temperament to be president, just 44 percent say so now.

Nationally, meanwhile, a new Pew Research Center poll shows relatively few Americans are paying close attention to the controversy. Just 18 percent nationally said they were following the matter "very closely" -- less than said the same about the cold winter weather (44 percent), the economy (28 percent) and the unemployment insurance debate in the Senate (19 percent).

Another 21 percent say they are following the matter "fairly closely," meaning only about four in 10 Americans have tuned in.

The poll also shows opinions about Christie are little-changed. Fully, 60 percent of people say their opinion of him is unchanged, while just 16 percent view him more negatively and 6 percent view him more positively.

But many who now view him in a worse light are Democrats. Just 14 percent of political independents say they view him less favorably now, and Republicans are sticking by Christie, with 9 percent viewing him more favorably and 10 percent viewing him less favorably.

The poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday. The story broke Wednesday when Christie's office was implicated in the plot. Christie held his news conference Thursday.

Updated at 2:42 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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