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Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Featured, Politics | 4 comments

Pew Poll: Christie Story Attracts Little Public Interest



That’s the apparent reaction so far to the public over the abuse of power/political revenge scandal swirling around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Is this more evidence of the disconnect between political junkies, political activists, the media and the country at large? Or could it be too early to gauge a reaction? A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds most people polled either paid little attention to the story and didn’t feel it changed their opinion of the under-fire Governor:

The public paid far more attention to last week’s cold snap than to the controversy swirling around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. There also has been little short-term change in opinions about Christie: 60% say their opinion of Christie has not changed in recent days, while 16% now view him less favorably and 6% more favorably.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 9-12 among 1,006 adults, finds that just 18% paid very close attention to Christie’s apology on Jan. 9 for the highway lane closures ordered by his aides. By contrast, 44% very closely followed news about the cold winter weather that gripped much of the U.S. and 28% tracked news about the economy.

And the Gates book that some conservative talkers and blogger say will be the downfall of the Obama administration (some even suggesting the media was — no joke — trying to get attention away from the book by blowing “Bridgate” out of proportion)? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

The release of a book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that criticized the Obama administration drew even less interest than news about Christie. Just 11% followed news about Gates’ book very closely.

The survey finds that majorities of Republicans (69%), Democrats (55%) and independents (60%) say that their opinion of Christie has not changed lately. Among Republicans, about as many say their opinion has become more favorable (9%) as less favorable (10%).

So no consquences? Not exactly.

More Democrats say their opinion has become less favorable (25%) than more favorable (3%). Among independents, 14% say their opinion of Christie has become less favorable and 6% more favorable.

That’s not good for Christie, who is appealing to conservative GOPers as day old oatmeal left on a counter. Christie’s numbers and elections have always benefited from a high degree of Democratic and independent voter support. More:

More or Less Favorable Opinion of Christie over Last Few Days?Those who followed news about Christie’s apology at least fairly closely are more likely to have changed their opinions about the New Jersey government in recent days.

Nonetheless, 57% of those who tracked news about Christie say their opinion of him has not changed; 29% say it has become less favorable, while 11% say it has become more favorable.

There’s more, but the question now is a valid one: polls are snap-shots, and can the impact be judged by this or is it too early? What we’re now seeing is a)some key non-Tea Party Republicans are circling the wagons around Christie, even if they aren’t his huge fans (political sports teams inexorably defend their political sports team) and b)Democrats who didn’t like him anyway and consider him a potential threat jumping all over it and c)the media senses there is more to this story here and if you work as a journalist and there’s a big story you want to get a new twist or find something better than your competition.

The media is particularly interested to see if there is seeming evidence of a trend here. And the documents provide one case that looks similar — but on a much smaller scale with far less serious consquences:

Documents released Monday indicate that meetings arranged between top commissioners to Gov. Chris Christie and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop were abruptly canceled without reason last year—providing evidence of Mr. Fulop’s claim that he was cut off after he decided not to endorse the governor.

The documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal through a public records request showed communications between Mr. Fulop and Christie administration staff members arranging the meetings in June and July, until the commissioners all canceled one meeting after another.

The documents don’t indicate why the meetings were scrapped, but Mr. Fulop has said that he was punished for declining to endorse the governor. Mr. Christie attended the Democrat’s inauguration in Jersey City in July, and Mr. Fulop’s advisers had considered endorsing Mr. Christie, a Republican, but ultimately didn’t.

“The emails that were requested speak for themselves. Our administration has sought to operate in a professional and cooperative manner with the Christie Administration,” Mr. Fulop said in a statement.

When asked about cutting off communication with Mr. Fulop, Mr. Christie said last week that discussions have continued with Jersey City and projects have continued to move forward. “We’ve continued to work with Jersey City over the course of time since he’s been mayor,” he said.

Mr. Christie’s office pushed back at Mr. Fulop’s statements Monday by criticizing him for being partisan and seeking to advance his political aspirations. The Democrat is widely seen as looking to run for governor in New Jersey in 2017.

“Mayor Fulop’s words and actions must be viewed through the lens of partisan politics and his attempt to advance his own personal agenda,” a spokesman for Mr. Christie said. “He has made clear his future political aspirations.”

Expect Christie to be viewed intensely now — for evidence of being vindictive and of being a bully — for a while. A long while.

But will it matter? Is this poll indicative? The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza sees Christie as still in front place for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination sweepstakes:

Make no mistake: Bridge-gate has hurt Christie and slowed, badly, the considerable momentum he built during a sweeping reelection victory in 2013. But, assuming that no other revelations emerge linking him to the closure of several lanes of traffic in Fort Lee, Christie remains the candidate — with the possible exception of former Florida governor Jeb Bush — who is best positioned to build the coalition of major donors, party activists and GOP elites necessary to win the nomination.

One of the best takes on where Christie stands in terms of the nomination comes via TMV Columnist Shaun Mullen HERE.

Graphic via