Christie Falls Behind Clinton in Poll Amid Bridge Scandal

Photographer: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is sworn in by Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court Stuart Rabner for his second term on January 21, 2014 in Trenton, New Jersey. Close

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is sworn in by Chief Justice of the New Jersey... Read More

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Photographer: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is sworn in by Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court Stuart Rabner for his second term on January 21, 2014 in Trenton, New Jersey.

Scandals surrounding Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey are hurting his standing as a national political figure and he’s losing ground to Democrat Hillary Clinton in a potential 2016 presidential matchup, a poll released today shows.

Christie, who was inaugurated to a second term today, trails Clinton 46 percent to 38 percent among American voters, according to a survey by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University. That compares with a poll by the university last month that showed the two essentially tied, with about 40 percent support for each.

The biggest shift since December is among independent voters whose support for Christie dropped 7 percentage points to 40 percent from 47 percent. Clinton’s standing among those same voters improved by 9 percentage points, climbing to 41 percent from 32 percent.

Graphic: A Timeline of Christie’s Unfolding Scandals

“In the last few months, Quinnipiac University national and state polls showed him inching ahead” of Clinton, Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “Today, she zips past him.”

The scandal has thrown Christie’s political script into turmoil, after he won a second term in November with 60 percent of the vote in a Democratic-leaning state. The controversy has given Democrats something to repeatedly bash him with in his home state and as he starts to travel more to raise money in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Bridge Probe

Christie, 51, is being investigated for his office's Hurricane Sandy spending and ties to politically motivated traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey with Manhattan. He has said he had no prior knowledge of his office’s involvement in shutting down lanes in September.

American voters are divided 35 percent to 36 percent on whether Christie would make a good president, the latest survey shows, down from 49 percent who had a positive view of his ambitions in the university’s November survey. More than half of voters -- 52 percent -- say Clinton would make a good president.

Almost three-quarters of American voters have heard something about the bridge controversy. Among that group, 50 percent say the scandal damages Christie’s 2016 White House prospects, while 3 percent say it ends his chances, 2 percent say it helps and 39 percent say the scandal doesn’t matter.

The controversy makes 34 percent less likely to vote for Christie, with 4 percent more likely and 56 percent saying it makes no difference.

The survey of 1,933 registered voters nationwide was taken Jan. 15-19 and has a 2.2 percentage point margin of error.

To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Chicago at jmccormick16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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