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Poll: Chris Christie still unknown to most voters

HAMMONTON, NJ - MARCH 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at a Reform Agenda Town Hall meeting at the New Jersey Manufacturers Company facility March 29, 2011 in Hammonton, New Jersey. A State Supreme Court appointed judge ruled on March 22, 2011 that his eight percent education budget cuts last year had violated New Jersey law because the state was unable to fulfil it's educational obligations. Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not well known to most Americans, including Republican primary voters, a new CBS News survey finds. Christie is considering a late entry into the race for the Republican presidential nomination and is expected to make a decision this week. 

A full 70 percent of voters say they are undecided about Christie or haven't heard enough about him, the poll found. Voters who did have an opinion of Christie were split, with 14 percent holding a favorable view and 15 percent holding an unfavorable view.

Chart - Views of Chris Christie

Republican primary voters were slightly more likely to hold an opinion about Christie, but even among this group, 63 percent were undecided or haven't heard enough about him. Among those who do hold an opinion, views were positive, with 29 percent saying they have a favorable impression and 9 percent holding an unfavorable view. special report: Election 2012

Christie is best known in the Northeast, where views are mixed: 22 percent favorable, 24 percent unfavorable, and 52 percent undecided or holding no opinion. Republicans, conservatives and supporters of the Tea Party were most likely to hold a positive view of Christie.

Pressure on Christie to enter the race has come largely from wealthy donors in the Northeast who are unhappy with the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. Asked if they would like to see Christie join the field, Republican primary voters offered a mixed response: 32 percent said yes, 38 percent said no and 30 percent said they didn't know.

The finding that Christie is relatively unknown underlines a serious challenge facing the potential candidate. If Christie enters the race he will have just a few short months to develop a platform and fundraising network and make himself better known to primary voters, who are now expected to begin going to the polls in early January.

Read the full poll (PDF)

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This poll was conducted by telephone from September 28-October 2, 2011 among 1,012 adults nationwide. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
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