New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn't have the strongest base of support within the Republican Party, but he's the party's top hope of defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, according to two new polls.
A Monmouth University poll shows Christie faring considerably better against the Democratic former secretary of state than three other big-name potential GOP presidential candidates. While Christie trailed Clinton by four points, 43-39, Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush all trailed by double digits.
Bush trailed 47-37, Rubio trailed 47-36 and Cruz trailed by the most, at 48-32.
While Christie fares the best in the general election, though, his favorability rating among GOP primary voters is noticeably worse than those of Bush and Rubio, along with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Ryan's favorable-unfavorable split is 76-6, while Bush's is 76-14 and Rubio's is 64-4. Christie is at 54-18.
The results echo a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, which also showed Christie is the buzziest GOP candidate overall. But, like the Monmouth poll, it showed he lags behind potential 2016 primary opponents when you focus on Republican voters.
In that poll, which ranks how "hot" a politician is, Christie ranks first overall, just ahead of Clinton, but eighth among GOP voters. He trails the Republicans mentioned above, along with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.).
Christie alienated some conservatives by embracing President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He also recently took on the Republican Party's emerging libertarian movement, engaging in a war of words with Paul over the NSA's surveillance programs