It wasn’t long ago when Chris Christie was widely considered the best hope for Republicans in an anticipated 2016 general election showdown against Hillary Clinton. But those days, at least for now, are over.
A McClatchy-Marist poll released Wednesday showed Clinton with solid leads against several potential GOP rivals, including a staggering 21-point edge over Christie.
It was the latest sign that the ongoing bridge scandal has eroded the linchpin of a possible Christie presidential bid: his electability.
The NBC/Marist survey for January showed Clinton with a 13-point advantage over Christie. A month earlier, before the scandal drew national attention with the exposure of the bombshell “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email, the same poll showed the two neck-and-neck.
A CNN/ORC International poll conducted in late January and early February showed Clinton leading Christie by 16 points. In December, CNN/ORC showed Christie holding a narrow two-point edge in such a matchup.
McClatchy-Marist also found Clinton and Christie in a dead heat late last year, before the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge emerged as a national story.
But while Christie’s general election appeal has been damaged, there’s some evidence that the scandal has strengthened his standing among a GOP base that’s never quite forgiven him for his post-Hurricane Sandy embrace of President Obama.
Christie certainly seems eager to use the scandal to endear himself to conservatives.
His office has released two public attacks on the New York Times, a popular right-wing punching bag that’s provided extensive coverage to the bridge scandal.
He also delivered highly partisan remarks during a visit Tuesday to Chicago, praising George W. Bush and ridiculing Democrats for their emphasis on income inequality.