Chris Christie’s Post-Sandy Rise Defies His GOP Critics

Some Republicans still want answers from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for his embrace of President Obama just days before the election and in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. But the tough-talking governor has won plenty of other allies for his handling of the storm’s aftermath.

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll on Wednesday showed that 67 percent of New Jersey voters have a favorable opinion of Christie. That’s a 19-point jump since the previous Rutgers-Eagleton poll in September. The poll also found his constituents overwhelmingly approve of Christie’s post-storm stewardship, while 81 percent believe he and Obama displayed “needed cooperation and bipartisanship” in the wake of the disaster.

Two other recent polls show Christie drawing a political boost. A survey on Tuesday from a right-leaning pollster, conducted on behalf of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, showed Christie with an eye-popping approval rating of 77 percent among New Jersey voters. Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac University poll on Tuesday revealed that Christie had won widespread admiration from individuals outside his state, with New York City voters giving him higher marks for his response to Sandy than the city’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Obama.

A report in the New York Times on Monday indicated that Christie has been forced to assuage disgruntled Republicans for his embrace of Obama the week before Election Day. It reflects a popular sentiment among many conservatives, who insist that the combination of the storm and the optics of Obama and Christie working in tandem effectively undermined Mitt Romney’s chances. But the polls show Christie’s post-Sandy response also enhanced his own profile. Over the weekend, he made a cameo on Saturday Night Live.

And Christie clearly hasn’t lost the support of all of his party peers. A survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released shortly after the election showed Christie as an early favorite in the 2016 Republican primary in New Hampshire.

The polls out of New Jersey carry more immediate importance for Christie, who may be challenged by popular Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker in the state’s gubernatorial election next year. But Wednesday’s poll from Rutgers might deter Booker, who said his decision on a run has been delayed due to the storm. Booker’s favorability rating of 52 percent is impressive but dwarfed by Christie’s, and the rising Democratic star battles much lower name recognition than the governor.

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