In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., has seen his approval ratings get a significant boost, according to a new poll from Rutgers University's Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, a seemingly good sign for the governor's 2013 re-election prospects.
The famously brash politician maintained a constant presence in the news in the aftermath of the superstorm, which ravaged the New Jersey shoreline and wreaked havoc in Atlantic City. But Christie's effusive praise of President Obama just days before the presidential election incited the ire of some Republicans, particularly considering his status as a high-profile Romney supporter.
New Jersey residents, unlike the national Republican establishment, seemed to appreciate Christie's response to the storm: More than 90 percent of them rated Christie as handling the post-Sandy crisis either "very well" (69 percent) or "somewhat well" (another 23 percent.) Moreover, where the GOP may have seen Christie's headline-making appearance with Mr. Obama as a slap in the face to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, 81 percent of New Jerseyans thought Christie and Mr. Obama showed the "needed cooperation and bipartisanship." Only 12 percent thought Christie "went too far in his praise" of the president.
Overall, Christie's favorability rating jumped 19 points from pre-Sandy levels, to 67 percent among registered voters. Sixty-one percent of respondents cited the governor's storm leadership as the cause for a boost in support.
"Governor Christie has emerged as a clear leader in this crisis, with New Jerseyans applauding his efforts, and in particular his literal and figurative embrace of President Obama in a time of need," said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers, in a statement released with the survey. "Despite a recent New York Times story that some national GOP leaders are condemning the governor for his show of bipartisanship, New Jerseyans of all stripes say it was exactly the right thing to do."
Christie's first term is up in January of 2014, and he has yet to formally a re-election bid. Among those thought to be among his top potential challengers include Mayor Cory Booker, Sen. Barbara Buono and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, though none of them have announced their intentions, either.
Many believe a second term for Christie in New Jersey would serve as something of a lead-in to a 2016 presidential bid: The candidate shot down reported GOP urgings to join the 2012 race, and he was granted they prime keynote speaking slot at the Republican National Convention this summer.
Whether or not Christie's appeal to the establishment remains intact, however, remains unknown. Some questioned his recent appearance on "Saturday Night Live" as insensitive in light of the fact that the recovery efforts were ongoing, and according to the New York Times, he hasn't yet been able to entirely repair the political damage that followed his now-famous embrace of the president.
Still, as Romney can attest, the tide of the Republican establishment can change a lot over the course of four years -- or even a couple of days.
In an appearance on MSNBC this morning, former Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor bashed Romney backers for turning on the candidate just days after lining up for cabinet positions.
"The Friday night before the election, we were in Cincinnati for this huge rally ... Tens of thousands of people, you could feel the energy, a hundred top-tier Romney surrogates were at the event. I'm backstage with some of them, I won't mention their names, but they're talking about Romney like he's Reagan. 'His debate performances were the best performances of any Republican nominee in presidential history. He's iconic.' They were talking about him because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. And in fact, some of them were already talking to our transition to position themselves for a Romney cabinet," said Senor, according to Politico. "They were on television, it was unbelievable, it was five, six days later, absolutely eviscerating him."