As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie heads to Iowa Thursday, prompting another round of talk about his presidential ambitions, he faces a 2016 obstacle maybe as daunting as the “Bridgegate” scandal rocking his administration: A sizable number of Republican voters dislike him.
A third of Republicans in Iowa (33%) and New Hampshire (31%) view the GOP governor negatively, according to brand-new NBC News/Marist polls of those two states.
By contrast, half of Republicans in Iowa (50%) and New Hampshire (52%) view him positively.
Indeed, Christie’s negative numbers among Republican voters are higher than all the other GOP presidential prospects the NBC/Marist poll tested:
- Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, gets a 66%-to-18% favorability/unfavorability score in Iowa, and a 71%-to-15% rating in New Hampshire.
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sits at 63% positive, 18% in Iowa; and 65% positive, 20% negative in New Hampshire.
- Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, is at 57% positive, 13% negative in Iowa; and 58% positive, 10% negative in New Hampshire.
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is at 44% positive, 11% negative in Iowa; and 50% positive to 7% negative in New Hampshire.
- And Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, is at 44% positive, 19% negative in Iowa; and 50% positive, 14% negative in New Hampshire.
Conservative complaints about Christie aren’t new, and they pre-date the "Bridgegate" scandal.
“Chris Christie promised to change New Jersey’s liberal Supreme Court. Five openings later, no change,” argues an advertisement running in Iowa by the group Judicial Crisis Network. “Instead a liberal Democrat for chief justice.”
Conservatives also criticized Christie’s embrace of President Barack Obama – right before the 2012 presidential election – after the damage from Hurricane Sandy.
In Iowa on Thursday, Christie, who serves as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, will attend fundraisers for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. And he heads to New Hampshire on July 31.
The NBC/Marist poll of Iowa was conducted July 7-13 of 392 Republican voters, and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 4.9 percentage points.
The NBC/Marist poll of New Hampshire was conducted July 7-13 of 340 Republican voters, and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 5.3 percentage points.