Yes, Chris Christie can beat Hillary Clinton

November 12, 2013

It's the exit polls against the other polls.

A new NBC News poll released Tuesday shows Hillary Clinton would start with a 10-point lead over Chris Christie in a hypothetical 2016 presidential race, 44 percent to 34 percent.

Meanwhile, Christie is being hailed by some as the GOP's new savior after taking 60 percent of the vote in a blue state last week -- including winning the Hispanic vote and the youth vote.


Gov. Chris Christie celebrates his reelection. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)

So which is more indicative of Christie's chances?

Both.

The two polls would seem to offer very different answers to the questions at hand, but both the exit polls and the new NBC poll speak well of his chances against Clinton in a prospective 2016 matchup.

First, the differences.

While Christie trails Clinton 44-33 among Latinos in the NBC poll, he won their vote 50-46 on Election Day last week, according to exit polls.

While he loses the African American vote 83-4 to Clinton, he took 21 percent of black voters last Tuesday.

While he loses voters under 30 years old by a margin of 45-31 against Clinton, he basically split the youth vote with Democrat Barbara Buono.

The most telling numbers in the NBC poll, though, are Christie's deficit in the South (43-35) and slim lead among white voters (41-37). Regardless of who the GOP nominee is in 2016, he or she isn't going to lose the South or come close to losing white voters. Christie's under-performance in the NBC poll is all about people not knowing who he is.

And a closer look at the NBC numbers above suggests Christie is actually better-positioned than Mitt Romney was in 2012. While Romney lost the Hispanic vote by 44 points, Christie trails by just 11 (and is notably already ahead of Romney's 27 percent showing, despite a about a quarter of Latino voters being undecided). And while Romney lost young voters by 23 points, Christie trails by just 14. All of this despite Christie's name ID deficit.

If Christie could lose by only those margins among those demographics, he would probably win. And his performance on Election Day in New Jersey last week suggests that he's quite capable of doing that.

Christie certainly ran up the score against an underfunded challenger who didn't have much backing from the national Democratic Party. But if you take a close look at this NBC poll -- past the 10-point deficit on the topline -- it suggests Christie would be very formidable as the GOP nominee in 2016.

Fixbits:

The Wall Street Journal reports fewer than 50,000 people have signed up for the Obamacare exchanges via HealthCare.gov.

The numbers set to be released by the Obama Administration this week will include people who have selected a plan but not paid for it.

Christie, who on Sunday derided the idea of taking advice from Romney's advisers, has paid $46,000 to a consulting firm led by ... wait for it ... top Romney strategists.

A day after Christie punts on Iran, Republican Governors Association Chairman Bobby Jindal (R-La.) knocks the proposed deal.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) signs on with Ready for Hillary PAC.

James Carville (jokes) to Obama: You should try crack.

As of late Monday night, Democrat Mark Herring led Republican Mark Obenshain by 117 votes in the still-too-close-to-call Virginia attorney general's race.

Must-reads:

"HealthCare.gov Enrollment Falls Far Short of Target" -- Christopher Weaver, Timothy W. Martin and Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal

"McCrory talks off the cuff, sparking controversy" -- John Frank, Raleigh News and Observer

"Why Most Postmortems of Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Are Wrong" -- Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Chris Cillizza · November 11, 2013