By Edith Honan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie enjoys a 56 percent approval rating and is positioned to edge out a Democratic challenger if he runs for a second term next year, according to a Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday.
In match-ups with potential Democratic challengers, Christie holds a 46 to 42 percent advantage over Newark Mayor Cory Booker and tops State Senator Richard Codey 47 to 41 percent, the poll found.
"A sneak peak at the 2013 election for governor shows Newark Mayor Cory Booker could give Governor Christie a run for his money, if the mayor decides to run," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Christie was first elected governor in 2009 after serving as U.S. attorney for New Jersey and is expected to run for a second term in 2013. He was an early favorite to run for the Republican presidential nomination and gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention this summer.
But his popularity on the national stage has at times exceeded his popularity at home.
According to the poll, voters approve of Christie's job performance by a margin of 56 to 38 percent, up from 53 to 42 percent a month ago.
Christie's support is especially strong among men, white voters and independent voters - all three groups back with more than 60 percent.
Voters say he deserves to be re-elected by 52 to 40 percent.
The survey of 1,405 registered voters was conducted from October 10 to October 14 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Cynthia Osterman)