Californians have a soft spot for Republican Chris Christie — at least compared with other Republicans who, like the New Jersey governor, are considered potential 2016 presidential contenders.
A new Field Poll finds Golden State voters have a much more favorable impression of Christie than four other Republicans who are possible candidates for the GOP’s presidential nomination: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.
According to the poll (the full results are embedded at the end of this post), nearly half of all California voters (47 percent) hold a favorable view of Christie, while just 19 percent view him unfavorably. Another 34 percent have no opinion. All the other candidates had higher negative than positive numbers. And Christie is the only one of the group who has a favorable image among Republicans, Democrats and independent voters.
From the poll summary:
Impressions of Jeb Bush are 29% favorable, 33% unfavorable, with 38% having no opinion. Voter opinions of Cruz are 24% positive, 37% negative, and 39% with no opinion.
Somewhat larger proportions of California voters, about half, do not have an impression of either Rubio or Paul. In Rubio’s case 22% of voters view him favorably, 26% unfavorably and 52% have no opinion. Paul’s image is quite similar, with 21% of voters offering a positive assessment, 29% negative and 50% no opinion.
Of the five, Christie holds the highest favorable rating among California Republicans.
A national poll released on Nov. 29 shows that Christie leads fellow Republicans for the 2016 presidential nomination.
The CNN/ORC International survey shows 24 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward voting for the GOP support Christie for the party’s nod. Rand Paul came in second with 13 percent. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin came in third with 11 percent.
Christie won re-election as governor by a landslide earlier this month. He recently told CNN that he was a conservative, but Rand Paul and others have tagged him as a moderate. The Week reported recently that “Christie has notably sparred with unions, slashed state spending, and wagged his finger at teachers, all of which should win him support with conservatives. But he’s also developed a moderate image, dropping a challenge to gay marriage, endorsing some limited gun control reforms, and suggesting illegal immigrants should be given in-state tuition rates.”
Along with questions about the five Republican politicians, voters in the Field Poll were asked whether they believe the Tea Party’s influence on the Republican Party strengthens or weakens the party’s election chances. Voters see it having a negative impact by a nearly four-to-one margin. Asked to what degree they personally identified with the Tea Party movement, 7 percent of California voters say they identify with it a lot, while 30 percent have some identification with it and 63 percent report no identification with the Tea Party.
Here is the full report: