The New Jersey gubernatorial contest is shaping up to be the 2013 race that really isn’t one.
Incumbent GOP Gov. Chris Christie has a more than two-to-one lead over state Sen. Barbara Buono, crushing the likely Democratic nominee 60% to 28% among registered voters, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll released Wednesday morning on The Daily Rundown.
The Republican governor remains extremely popular despite the solid blue nature of the Garden State. Christie has a 69% approval rating among registered voters. Eighty-one percent approve of the governor’s leadership on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and 56% also approve of his handling of the state budget.
There’s virtually no good news for Democrats in the poll. Christie has crushing advantages even among all the constituencies Buono should be leading--42% of Obama voters are supporting Christie, and just 51% of self-identified Democrats say they would back Buono. Christie is winning independents handily, 64% to 22%.
Christie is also on the right side of the gender gap. He leads women by 24% and men by 42%. The GOP incumbent also handily leads all age groups.
The biggest hurdle for Buono is that she remains relatively unknown in the Garden State--and the significant cash disparity she has with Christie won’t help her narrow that gap either. Fifty-seven percent of voters say they haven’t heard of Buono or have no opinion of her.
The popular Christie may be readying for a possible 2016 White House bid, revealing this week he had weight loss surgery. But New Jersey voters may not share that desire--55% of registered voters in the state say they don’t want him in the presidential race. Among Republicans, just half would want him to run. Among independents, 56% say he shouldn’t run.
And Christie can’t necessarily count on home state support if he advances to a general election--former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would beat Christie in a hypothetical matchup, 52% to 41%. Against Vice President Joe Biden, Christie fares much better, winning 51% to 40%.
The April 28-May 2 poll surveyed 1,080 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3%.