Nearly 70 percent of Americans say the bridge-closure scandal engulfing Chris Christie has not changed their opinion about the New Jersey governor, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll. In addition, 44 percent of respondents believe he’s telling the truth about his knowledge of the events surrounding the controversy.
And far more Americans view him as a strong leader rather than as a bully.
But the survey also shows that the potential 2016 Republican candidate has lost ground to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an early hypothetical presidential match up and now trails her by 13 points.
Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, explains that, overall, this is good news for Christie.
“The numbers suggest it’s far from politically fatal for him,” he says of the scandal, adding: “This is a developing story, so the extent of the damage down the road is an open proposition.”
But the down side for Christie, according to Miringoff: Americans “are getting to know to him, and that’s maybe not the best way to introduce himself to a national audience.”
The poll – conducted Jan. 12-14 – comes after released emails showing that a top Christie aide, as well as his Port Authority appointees, conspired to close local-access lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge as retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.