NJ-GOV: Christie Expands Lead over Corzine

New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie’s campaign got a shot in the arm today when Quinnipiac released the results of its most recent polling in the governor’s race. Christie has expanded his lead to 12 points over incumbent governor Jon Corzine (D). From the poll:

Republican challenger Christopher Christie is pulling away from Democratic incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine and now holds a 53 – 41 percent lead among likely voters in the New Jersey Governor’s race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 50 – 40 percent lead for the former federal prosecutor in a June 10 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

In a three-way matchup among likely voters, Christie leads Gov. Corzine 47 – 38 percent, with 8 percent for independent candidate Christopher Daggett.

Christie has increased his lead despite a month-long negative ad blitz by Corzine that is seeking to paint Christie as ethically challenged and tied to former president George W. Bush.  The charges are not sticking.  The poll found that only 10% of likely voters say that Corzine’s attacks on Christie’s association with Bush, who appointed him as U.S. Attorney for Newark, are fair.  By contrast, 77% say that Corzine should focus on state issues.

But Corzine can’t do that, as the poll results demonstrate.

By a 39 – 20 percent margin, New Jersey likely voters have a favorable opinion of Christie, while 40 percent say they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Corzine gets a negative 34 – 58 percent favorability.

New Jersey registered voters disapprove 60 – 33 percent of the job Corzine is doing, his lowest rating ever and down from a 56 – 36 percent disapproval June 10. Independent voters disapprove 69 – 24 percent. Likely voters also disapprove 60 – 33 percent.

Likely voters say 50 – 36 percent that Christie would do a better job handling the state budget and 54 – 30 percent that the Republican would do a better job cleaning up corruption.

President Obama makes a highly anticipated trip to New Jersey this Thursday to raise money and stump for Corzine.  If Corzine cannot turn around his dismal poll  numbers by early fall, and make the race competitive, it may be the president’s last trip to the Garden State.

A win for Republicans in New Jersey, coupled with an expected win in the Virginia governor’s race, will set the national Republican Party up well for the 2010 midterm elections.  Christie is keeping up his end of the bargain.Christie now needs to avoid and major mistakes and seal the deal with voters, who still need to be convinced that he has the skills to govern.  But poll results like these buold their own momentum, and Christie is close to the point where his campaign will begin to roll downhill to November.