Chris Christie, the first-term New Jersey governor who says he won’t run for the White House in 2012, trailed President Barack Obama by six percentage points in a head-to-head matchup, according to a nationwide survey.
Obama led Christie, 46 percent to 40 percent, among registered voters queried by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, released today. Two former Republican governors fared better. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas matched Obama, at 46 percent each, while Massachusetts’s Mitt Romney was just behind, with 43 percent to the president’s 44 percent.
“Christie has now, without running, the kind of support among Republicans that some others have taken years to cultivate,” Peter Woolley, director of the polling center in Madison, New Jersey, said in a statement with the results. The poll said Christie beat Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, as well as Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty.
Christie, 48, has become a national Republican star after battling government unions and slashing spending to close a $10.7 billion deficit without raising taxes. In an interview posted this month on the National Review magazine’s website, Christie said he has been asked to run for president and knows he could win, while insisting he won’t make a bid in 2012.
The governor was the main attraction at a $1,000-a-person annual National Republican Congressional Committee fundraising dinner in Washington yesterday. The event raised more than $10 million, surpassing an $8 million goal, according to Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman. Last year’s gathering, featuring talk-show host Sean Hannity, raised $7 million, according to Burgos.
“I’m not running for president of the United States,” Christie told New Jersey residents at a March 29 public meeting in Hammonton. “I’m the governor of New Jersey, why would I ever want a job that’s less powerful?”
Republicans named Christie in 10 percent of responses when asked about their preference for the party’s 2012 nominee for president, the PublicMind poll said. Huckabee was picked by 21 percent while Romney was the choice of 20 percent.
“Huckabee and Romney have a huge advantage since they’ve run before for the presidency and are more familiar to voters than Christie,” Woolley said.
Huckabee also matched Obama, 46 percent to 46 percent, in a Newsweek/Daily Beast survey of likely voters conducted Feb. 12-15, while Romney trailed the president 47 percent to 49 percent. A Democracy Corps poll Feb. 7-9 showed Huckabee and Obama at 47 percent each, while Romney trailed, 46 percent to 48 percent.
In the PublicMind poll, Obama trounced Palin, 54 percent to 34 percent, and Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, 48 percent to 34 percent. Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who led a Republican surge in 1994, trailed Obama 52 percent to 37 percent, the survey said.
PublicMind polled 800 registered voters nationwide by telephone from March 21-28. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.