Bloomberg News

Christie Trailing Romney Hurts Pawlenty, Primary Survey Shows

June 11, 2011

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would tie for second with Sarah Palin should they both make a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, a poll shows.

Christie, who has said he won’t run for president in 2012, and Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, would both trail Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor was the first choice of 27 percent of Republican voters surveyed when Christie and Palin weren’t on the list, according to a PublicMind poll released today by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Nine percent of respondents said they would favor Christie when he was part of the list, compared with 29 percent for Romney. The inclusion of Christie, 48, leads to drops in support for former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, the poll shows.

“So long as he’s polling well, and the base hasn’t solidified behind anyone else, they’ll keep on trying to pull him in,” Dan Cassino, a pollster with the university and a professor of politics, said in a statement with the survey. “These results show the strength of Christie’s current position with the Republican electorate.”

The nationwide telephone survey of 509 Republican voters was conducted June 1-7, a day after Christie traveled by state police helicopter to his son’s high school baseball game.

$2,500 Flight

The governor, who has asked workers to give up benefits as part of “shared sacrifice” in cutting the cost of government, said June 2 that he and the Republican State Committee would reimburse taxpayers for the $2,500 cost of that flight as well as one to another game on May 27.

Christie, who has become a rising star among Republicans nationwide, trailed President Barack Obama in a head-to-head match-up, 34 percent to 50 percent, in a PublicMind poll released yesterday. The first-term governor’s voter approval in his state declined to its lowest level in a May 24 poll by the Madison, New Jersey, school. An equal number, 44 percent, approved and disapproved of his performance, compared with 51 percent approval to 41 percent disapproval in April.

Christie’s May 31 helicopter flight included a trip from his son’s game to the governor’s mansion in Princeton for a meeting with Iowa Republicans, who sought unsuccessfully to persuade him to run for president.

Unsettled Field

The New Jersey governor’s name was included in the list of possible candidates for half of the voters in the PublicMind survey, allowing pollsters to determine the effect he would have on other candidates. The same was done with Palin, who like Bachmann hasn’t said she’s running.

When Christie was included, Pawlenty’s support dropped by half to 3 percent from 6 percent, and Bachmann’s fell to 5 percent from 9 percent, the poll said. With Palin listed, support for Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, fell to 5 percent from 12 percent.

“Any election contest is a zero-sum game: When someone new gets in, it’s sure to hurt someone else,” Cassino said. “This field is by no means settled. If Christie or Palin decides to run, it shakes up the whole group -- and the leader among Republicans is still ‘I don’t know.”

Twenty-seven percent of the respondents said they didn’t have a preference among the candidates. When Christie’s name was included, 8 percent named him as their second choice.

The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, according to PublicMind.

--Editor: Stacie Servetah, Ted Bunker.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in New Jersey at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net


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