The once riding high Governor Christie now owns a 56% disapproval rating in New Jersey, according to SurveyUSA poll released this week. The poll found that 38% approved of his performance.
Governor Christie has been in office just 16 months so why the cratering numbers? Two reasons in my not so humble political judgment.
First, New Jersey has a miserable job creation record since Governor Christie took office. New Jersey ranks 50th or close to it. By contrast Pennsylvania was a national job leader in 2010 and the first quarter of 2011. Voters want results. So far they have gotten no jobs in the Garden State.
But if the poor performance of the New Jersey economy was the whole story for the Governor's political struggles, then President Obama should have bad poll numbers too in New Jersey. But he is still riding high there, with a 54% to 40% approval rating in NJ.
The bigger problem for Christie is a combination of his policies and especially his leadership style, often called bullying. Governor Christie has had his town hall sessions filmed by aides to capture his explosive put down of a hapless teacher, or union member, or local government official or plain citizen. Then these clips go up on YouTube.
As Governor Rendell told me this week, bullying voters has a short shelf life. It is shocking and may even work for a limited time but becomes unproductive quickly. In the case of Governor Christie that period was less than 16 months.