Fans of Chris Christie have been seizing every bit of public opinion research available to argue that the BridgeGate scandal is an elite “media feeding frenzy” phenomenon that actual Americans are either ignoring or discounting.
Now comes Pew with a large survey on Christie which doesn’t really measure the impact of BridgeGate, but does establish that his national standing has deteriorated significantly over the last year. In January 2013 his national favorable/unfavorable ratio was 40/17. Now it’s 38/34.
A mid-2013 Republicans-only Pew survey indicates that much of the damage to Christie’s popularity may have happened early in the year. It seems possible that his image among Democrats and indies suffered as memories of his Sandy activism faded, but that images of this same activism gradually sunk in among conservatives and boosted his negatives there, too. In any event, it seems Republican attitudes towards Christie have stabilized even as his general standing continues to erode.
That may be cold comfort for those who want him to run for president to save the Republican Party from itself. As I have argued before, Christie’s marketability to conservatives depends almost entirely on evidence he is unbeatable in a general election. If Democrats and independents sour on him, so, too, with conservatives; if they can’t be assured a GOP victory, they’d just as soon take their chances with one of their own.