In less than forty-eight hours, Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be winning re-election for a second term as the Capo Di Capi of the Garden State. The only big questions facing political prognosticators are how many dozens of points will he win by and who will have voted for him? Other than that, nothing much is of interest here. Unless, you consider what happens in each of the twenty-one Legislative Districts in New Jersey a barometer of how Christie might do on the national level appealing to Democrats, Blacks and Women.
Of those three groups, Blacks are the most key to the future of Governor Chris Christie and the future of his Republican Party. There is a modern-day political saw that “Winning Black Voters helps you win Moderate suburban Voters and they help you win Women voters.” At least in the United States’ Northeastern states and the West Coast. According to Politisite.com, the current major polls looking at Christie appeal to the Black vote is as such:
Fairleigh Dickinson - Non-White – 33%
Quinnipiac University – Black - 29%
Rutgers University – Non-White – 41%
Stockton College – Black – 17.4%
Marist College/NBC has Christie’s approval rating among black voters at 64%
Politisite’s own analysts believe that the Black vote for Christie will be lower than each of these polls except for the Stockton College poll and the Governor will come in at 19%.
Based on how this campaign has proceeded over the past year and especially the past month or so, Christie will benefit from a sizable increase of support in the Black community but nowhere near 30% of their votes. Please consider that the Governor has pretty much avoided campaigning in cities not named Newark and has laid off pushing his best campaign issue of School Choice for at least the past six months. He also committed a major faux pas by not visiting or taking a lead role on fixing Trenton Central High School’s mold and dilapidation problems which came to a head over the summer. The fact that this school is in New Jersey’s own Capital City and is located two miles from Christie’s Statehouse office makes this almost astonishing.
Christie will gain from his “hands off” approach towards the recent U.S. Senate Special Election and subsequent election of Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Many Black voters may feel that Christie helped Booker get his Senate seat, but this may not be enough to make them go out of their way to vote for Christie. Especially when their own Democratic Party has done a poor job reminding them that there is an Election. The New Jersey and national Democratic Party surrendered this Gubernatorial campaign to Christie in the spring. The Democratic Governors Association has spent less than $5,000 supporting its own Democratic candidate, Barbara Buono, in this Election. Meanwhile, this same organization has spent over $6 million on the Democratic Governor candidate in Virginia. According to SMG Delta, a Virginia-based political tracking firm, Christie will likely have spent nearly $12 million dollars on television and radio ads alone compared to Buono’s $2.1 million.
One major point that has to be made is how Christie has avoided the word “Republican” as much as possible and being associated too closely to his Party. According to the Star-Ledger’s Matt Friedman, Christie has only publicly supported 3 Republican candidates (out of 120) with cable TV spots. There are more than a few Republican Assembly and Senate District candidates who are quite unhappy with the lack of public support that they are getting from their own Republican Governor. One such candidate told me off-the-record that they literally had to push their way through a crowd to even shake Christie’s hand at a campaign stop in the heart of their District. A mild “Republican backlash” could materialize tomorrow when many Republicans go in the voting booth and then remember Christie’s consistent criticisms of his own Party and his perceived disassociation from it. These voters could very well be called “Non-Tea Party-Tea Party Republicans.”
The politically interested and especially Right-leaning voters should keep an eye on New Jersey and the numbers behind the results that are released in the weeks ahead. You may find a roadmap for a potential Christie Presidential run or the template for a Rand Paul or Scott Walker to win in the Northeastern U.S. and the West Coast. What you won’t find is a playbook from the past.