It's not clear he'd beat President Barack Obama, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie comes closer than most other potential Republican presidential candidates in hypothetical 2012 matchups, according to a new national poll of registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind polling center.
Obama easily bests Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin by a 20-point margin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty by 14 points, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich by 15 points, according to the poll.
But the Jersey guy is closing in.
The first-term governor polls at just 6 points behind Obama—46 to 40 percent.
“People do not see New Jersey as typical of America, though it is," said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. "And they don’t see New Jersey problems as typical of America, though they are. And Christie is very New Jersey.”
But Christie's got competition in the Republican field. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee polls dead even to the president, with each getting a predicted 46 percent of vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney matches up to Obama at 44 to 43 percent, according to the poll.
“Huckabee and Romney have a huge advantage since they’ve run before for the presidency and are more familiar to voters than Christie,” Woolley said.
But before he could run for president, Christie would need the Republican nomination. Among Republicans polled, 10 percent pick Christie first for the nomination. For the rest of the field, it's Pawlenty at 5 percent, Gingrich at 10 percent, Palin at 12 percent, Romney at 20 percent and Huckabee at 21 percent.
“Christie has now, without running, the kind of support among Republicans that some others have taken years to cultivate,” Woolley said.
Among independent voters, Christie's favored over the president, 43 to 40 percent.
“I know Christie is not running for president,” Woolley said. “But because New Jersey’s fiscal problems are a reflection of the nation’s fiscal problems, it is well worth testing his national appeal.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 800 registered voters nationwide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from March 21, 2011, through March 28, 2011, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
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