In the midst of a campaign to be re-elected to his current job, Gov. Chris Christie is already pining for higher office. At least that's what most of his current constituents think, according to the Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll .
More than 6-in-10 (63%) New Jerseyans believe that their governor wants to run for president in 2016, which includes 40% who say he is already planning his campaign. Another 22% do not believe Christie wants to run for president and 15% are not sure about the governor's political ambitions.
If Christie does run in 2016, most New Jerseyans think he's got the right stuff for the job. A majority say that he has the right temperament (56%) and the right experience to be president (53%). Only 34% say his personality is the wrong fit and 37% say his résumé is not good enough. And with all the talk about the governor's weight as a potential issue in a run for president, fully 6-in-10 (61%) New Jerseyans say that Chris Christie is healthy enough to do the job. Only 20% say he is not healthy enough to be president.
"Is Chris Christie too fat or too much of a bully to be president? Most New Jerseyans say no," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. "Some people suspect that a 2016 run figures into Christie's policy decisions, but it does not necessarily undercut his performance as governor."
Currently, 44% of New Jerseyans say that Christie is more concerned with governing the state of New Jersey compared to 38% who say he is more concerned with his own political future. Another 12% volunteer that he is balancing both concerns equally. In December - right after Superstorm Sandy devastated the state - 61% said that the governor was focused more on the state than himself. While the current results are less "positive" than that post-Sandy poll, they are better than public opinion from February 2012, when more New Jerseyans thought Christie had more concern for his own career (48%) than for his home state (39%).
The governor's recent veto of a 50 caliber weapon ban is one issue that has been analyzed in this light. About 4-in-10 (39%) Garden State residents say Christie made this decision based what he thought was best for New Jersey, while 35% say he made this decision based on what he thought would help him in a run for president. Another 10% say both reasons contributed equally to his veto.
Few people are actually aware of the veto, though, because the decision was made late on a Friday when news coverage was minimal and focused more on his conditional veto of a medical marijuana bill earlier that day. In fact just 11% have heard a lot about the gun bill veto and 42% have heard a little. Among those who heard a lot about the bill, 46% say the decision arose from Christie's political ambitions compared to 41% who say he was acting in the best interests of the state.
Gov. Christie has also taken a lot of flak for his "embrace" of Pres. Obama after Superstorm Sandy. However, New Jerseyans continue to believe that working with the president will actually help (55%) rather than hurt (8%) the governor's political future. Majorities of New Jersey Democrats (60%), independents (53%) and Republicans (51%) agree that working with Obama after Sandy will help Christie.
"Reaching across the aisle may help Gov. Christie in a general election with New Jersey voters. But you have to remember that not one of the people we polled will be voting in Iowa or New Hampshire in 2016," said Murray.
The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by telephone with 783 New Jersey adults from September 6 to 10, 2013. This sample has a margin of error of ± 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Asbury Park Press and its sister publications (Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).
The questions referred to in this release are as follows:
1. Do you think Chris Christie is more concerned with governing the state of New Jersey OR more concerned about his own political future? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
2. Do you think Chris Christie wants to run for president in 2016, or not? [If “YES”: Do you think he is already planning to run or hasn’t decided yet?]
[QUESTIONS 3 THROUGH 5 WERE ROTATED]
3. Do you think Chris Christie does or does not have the right temperament to be president?
4. Do you think Chris Christie does or does not have the right experience to be president?
5. Do you think Chris Christie is or is not healthy enough to be president?
6. Do you think the way Governor Christie worked with President Obama after Superstorm Sandy will help or hurt the governor’s own political future, or will it have no impact?
7. Governor Christie recently vetoed a bill that would have banned the sale and possession of 50 caliber rifles. How much have you read or heard about this – a lot, a little, or nothing at all.
8. Do you think the reason he vetoed this gun bill was more about doing what he thought was best for New Jersey or more about doing what he thought would help him in a run for president?
The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 6 to 10, 2013 with a statewide random sample of 783 adult residents, including 580 contacted on a landline telephone and 203 on a cell phone. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the state. Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.
Download this Poll Report with all tables