A tweet from Carolyn Ryan, Washington bureau chief and political editor of the New York Times, caught my attention this morning. “Hmmmmm….In new Rutgers poll, 53% of NJ voters say [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie doesn’t have ‘the right look’ to be president,” she wrote. Have to admit, I thought the same thing after watching his rather sullen departure from No. 10 Downing Street earlier this month. But there are other numbers in that poll that are more devastating to the prospective Republican presidential aspirant, further cementing his role as “the Anne Hathaway of politics.” One particular set made laugh out loud.
The first question in the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was what had me LOL’ing. “And,” the survey asks respondents, “what ONE WORD would you say best describes Chris Christie?” Gee, what could go wrong? The top three of 10 responses were negative. “Bully” (10 percent). “Arrogant” (7 percent). “Selfish” (4 percent). The negativity didn’t stop there. Coming in at No. 13 was a word I never thought I’d see in a poll. It rhymes with “ash pole.”
One percent of those surveyed said the one word that best describes Christie is “ash pole.” Where things get interesting is when the “one word” responses are broken out by party affiliation. “Bully” is the No. 1 response among Democrats (15 percent) and independents (9 percent). “Arrogant” is the second descriptor among Democrats (8 percent) and independents (7 percent). “Selfish” is the No. 3 answer among independents. This means that the overall view of Christie mirrors that of independents. Republicans view the governor more favorably, but not by much with “arrogant” (3 percent) coming in at No. 3. The No. 1 trait listed by New Jersey GOPers was “honest,” but 4 percent saying so is rather anemic praise.
Now, back to “ash pole.” This is where it gets interesting. The vulgar view was not expressed by Democrats. “Blowhard” (2 percent) was about as nasty as they got. Calling Christie “arrogant” was as mean as Garden State Republicans got against their standard bearer. “Ash pole,” which came in fifth, was the preferred description of the governor by 2 percent of independents. Christie is toast if this carries over to independent voters nationally.
What is even more harmful is how Christie is viewed compared with his potential Republican rivals in three categories. Does he have “the right ‘look’ to be president”? Nope, say 53 percent of respondents. Does he have “the right demeanor and personality to be president”? No way, said 61 percent of those surveyed. And does Christie have “the right amount of experience to be president”? He does slightly better here with 51 percent saying no. Further piling on the bad news for Christie is the 59 percent who think he would make a bad president. By the way, Hillary Clinton’s survey results are spectacularly better among New Jersey voters.
Sure, polls right now are relatively meaningless since no one is officially running, we are so far out from primary season to begin with and the electorate is notoriously fickle. Still, if you’re Chris Christie, these are not the numbers you want from the hometown crowd before you even get into the race.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj