Bridge scandal takes toll on Chris Christie 2016 polling

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his State Of The State address at the Statehouse, Jan. 14, 2014, in Trenton, N.J. Julio Cortez/AP

The George Washington Bridge traffic scandal has cost Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., in a hypothetical presidential matchup against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a new Quinnipiac poll out Tuesday shows.

Christie – who was sworn in for a second term Tuesday – now trails Clinton 46 percent to 38 percent, compared with a December Quinnipiac poll that showed him in a virtual tie with 42 percent support to Clinton’s 41 percent. His slide is driven heavily by the flight of independent voters, who backed him 47 percent to 32 percent over Clinton last month, but now give Clinton 41 percent and Christie just 40 percent.

Overall, Americans who responded to the survey are divided on whether Christie would make a good president: 35 percent says yes; 36 percent say no. In November, 49 percent said he would make a good president and 31 percent said he would not. Clinton’s numbers are only slightly down, with 52 percent saying she would make a good president (54 percent said so last month) and the number who say she would not holding steady at 40 percent from November to January.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans have heard about the scandal, which quickly made it into the lineup of comedy shows like “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and "Saturday Night Live". Half of those who had heard of it say it damages his White House prospects, but nearly four in 10 said it didn’t have any effect (just 3 percent said the scandal would dash his hopes for the presidency, and 2 percent said it would improve them).

Fifty-six percent said the scandal would make no difference in whether or not they voted for him if he ran for president, but a third of people said it would make them less likely to vote for Christie.

The results echo a Pew poll released Monday that showed Christie’s unfavorable numbers had doubled in the last year.

Clinton comes out better than all potential Republican candidates, besting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 49 percent to 39 percent; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 50 percent to 35 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 49 percent to 38 percent.

But Christie is still doing fairly well in the field of GOP candidates. He has 12 percent support among respondents, down from 17 percent last month but now just one percent below Paul and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who each have 13 percent support. Bush was behind at 11 percent and no other candidate cracked 9 percent.  

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,933 registered voters between January 15 and 19. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points. 

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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