Will Chris Christie’s popularity among women last?

December 18, 2012

Some of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) strongest support comes from what might seem like an unlikely source: women. 


(Mel Evans/AP)

A new national poll shows Christie outpacing other potential 2016 GOP White House hopefuls among women voters, and state polling shows he's doing just as well with them back home. 

One thing that is important to note: Christie's strong standing with women comes amid a period of immense overall popularity for the governor. Christie's image in his state is golden in the wake of his handling of Hurricane Sandy, which included a heavily scrutinized decision to invite President Obama to survey storm damage and meet with affected residents. So, it's possible his numbers among women are a reflection of his broader standing. 

Now, to the specific data: 

Among registered voters nationwide who have heard of the governor, a majority of both women and men have a favorable impression of him, a new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey released on Tuesday shows. Fifty-seven percent of women said they hold a favorable opinion of Christie, compared to 53 percent of men who said the same thing. 

Stacked up against some other potential 2016 GOP White House hopefuls, those numbers are quite good.

In the same poll, 44 percent of women voters familiar with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said they had a favorable opinion of him. Forty-three percent of women voters familiar with Sen. Marco Rubio (R) said they had a favorable impression of him, while 32 percent said the same thing about former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R). 

Women have made up more than half of the electorate during the last two presidential elections. In both, the Republican nominee wasn't able to crack 45 percent of the female vote. Mitt Romney won 44 percent of women in 2012, while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried 43 percent of the female vote in 2008, exit poll data show

It would be misguided to say that Christie has the answer to the GOP's problems with women based on his favorability rating in one national poll. And when matched up against potential Democratic candidates (something the poll doesn't do), Christie's numbers might not look that different from the rest of the GOP crop. 

But it's still worth noting. 

What's more, the brash, outspoken governor's standing among women is as impressive back home as it is nationwide. In a recent Quinnipiac University survey of New Jersey, two-in-three women voters said that Christie deserves to be reelected. Matched up against Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), the most formidable Democrat that could challenge him next year, a majority of women voters (53 percent) said they prefer the Republican. 

Christie's sky-high numbers could change as 2013 and 2016 grow near. And so could his support among women. But for now, he is showing an ability to appeal to women in a way other national figures in his party have not.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Aaron Blake · December 18, 2012