New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fields questions at a wide-ranging news conference, March 3, 2016 at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey.
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty

New Jersey’s Chris Christie, already unpopular, goes for broke

Updated

About two years ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) presidential campaign was just getting off the ground when polls showed his own constituents didn’t support his White House bid. Asked why his home state’s voters were so opposed to giving him a promotion, Christie had a theory.

“They want me to stay,” the Republican argued. “I’ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings, ‘Don’t leave,’ and ‘Don’t run for president because we want you to stay.’”

At the time, the explanation was absurd. But two years later, it’s kind of hilarious.

Christie’s approval rating in his own home state recently dropped to an abysmal 15%, and after the holiday weekend, it’s a safe bet the governor is headed for single digits. NJ.com reported:

People hoping to visit Island Beach State Park this holiday weekend were not allowed in because of the state government shutdown Gov. Chris Christie ordered amid the state budget standoff in Trenton.

But there was one family there: Christie’s. They are using the summer beach house provided by the state for a weekend down the Shore.

The front-page headline in the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, read, “Gov. soaks up sun on beach he closed.”

Making matters worse, Christie was asked at a news conference whether he got any sun on Sunday. “I didn’t,” the governor said. “I didn’t get any sun today.”

His spokesperson later clarified that Christie, photographed on the beach, didn’t get sun because “he had a baseball hat on.”

The GOP governor’s willingness to temporarily shut down the state government – the standoff was resolved on Monday – was already politically problematic. But the incident on the beach added insult to injury, and as his second term winds down, Christie’s brash display helps serve as a coda to a record of controversies and failures.

It’s reached the point at which Kim Guadagno (R), his lieutenant governor and would-be successor, can’t run away from him fast enough. Commenting on Christie’s beach incident, she wrote over the holiday weekend, “It’s beyond words. If I were gov, sure wouldn’t be sitting on beach if taxpayers didn’t have access to state beaches.”

As for Christie’s broader unpopularity, FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten provided some useful context.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seems to be taking the Thelma and Louise route out of office. Except instead of throwing a car off a cliff, Christie is taking New Jersey residents for a ride.

Over the weekend, the New Jersey government was shut down because of a budget impasse and Christie got caught on camera sunbathing at a public beach that was closed by that shutdown. His job approval rating was already just 15 percent, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Which makes me wonder: Is Christie trying to be the most unpopular governor in recorded history?

He’s not there yet. Based on my analysis of every governor’s lowest poll since 1958, Christie currently ranks fourth on the list of most of most unpopular governors in the modern era.

Two of the other three were facing criminal charges at the time.

Chris Christie and New Jersey

New Jersey's Chris Christie, already unpopular, goes for broke

Updated