Almost immediately after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) bridge scandal became a national story in earnest, pollsters starting gauging public attitudes. In the first few days, they found ... not much.
An NBC News/Marist poll, for example, found the vast majority of respondents were unfazed by the controversies (5% said the revelations made them like the governor more, not less). A Quinnipiac poll found the percentage of New Jersey voters who consider Christie a "bully" reaching a three-year low. This and related data led pundits to believe the governor would brush off the scandal without too much trouble, at least as far as public attitudes were concerned.
But those were just the initial numbers. As time goes on, and additional revelations come to light, it seems the news is taking its toll.
The Rutgers-Eagleton poll, released today, shows 46 percent of voters view the Republican governor favorably about two weeks after e-mails surfaced that appear to link a top Christie aide to the bridge controversy. That's a 19-point drop from the group's last survey, in November, when 65 percent of voters saw Christie favorably just before he was re-elected in a landslide.
The above chart is from the poll's internals (pdf), showing Christie's support over the course of four years. Note, the governor enjoyed steady-but-not-overwhelming popularity for a long while, only to see his support soar with the Sandy crisis.
According to the new data, that bump has now evaporated.
Also note, the latest Quinnipiac poll offers some additional bad news -- independents seem to be moving away from Christie rather quickly, which offered results roughly in line with the Pew Research poll we discussed yesterday.
Taken together, after some relatively encouraging news for the governor and his allies two weeks ago, we've now see three polls in three days showing Christie's support faltering, both at a state and national level.