Daniel Doherty
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And the award goes to Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the “hottest” political figure in the country, according to a new temperature poll.

Voters were asked to give politicians a number from 0-100 representing how they feel about that figure, with 0 being least favorable, or coldest, and 100 being most favorable, or warmest, in the new Quinnipiac survey on Monday.

Christie’s mean score was 53.1, topping the heap. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in a close second, at 52.1 degrees, and third was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), at 49.2 degrees, although 51 percent of voters did not know enough about her to make a judgment.

President Barack Obama was fourth, at 47.6.

Christie’s next possible 2016 GOP challengers on the list were Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), at 46.8 degrees, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), at 46.5.

At the bottom of the list were the four congressional leaders: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at 38.4; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at 37.5; House Speaker John Boehner at 36.7; and, in last place, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at 33.8.

So Christie is the most popular politician in America right now? Fascinating. Conservatives, of course, will no doubt bristle when they hear this. Why? Because in many ways he’s perceived as a squishy, unreliable “conservative” governor -- you know, the guy who left Mitt Romney hanging out to dry in 2012 and regularly puts personal ambition ahead of everything else. But this sort of appraisal, I think, is completely misleading, if not entirely false -- a point not lost on the Guardian’s Matt Katz:

Consider this: Planned Parenthood clinics have solely closed because of Christie (he has rejected state funding five times). New Jersey is one of two states in the entire northeast without gay marriage (he vetoed a gay marriage bill). And the minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour (he punted to voters, who will decide in November whether to raise it).

Christie has cut business taxes and provided $2.1bn in subsidies and grants for corporations. By refusing to continue a so-called millionaire’s tax, he kept taxes down for the wealthy. And by cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit, he effectively raised taxes on the working poor.

He has demonized public employee unions, forcing teachers, cops and public workers to pay more for health benefits and pension contributions. Despite one of the toughest teachers’ unions in the nation, he has succeeded in getting through several “education reform” measures – like charter school expansion, merit pay and tenure tied to performance instead of seniority. He pulled out of a major project that would have boosted public transportation, and a multi-state treaty that sought to limit carbon emissions.

Katz goes on to list a few different “controversies” that might force conservatives to explore other candidates if Christie does indeed run for president: his infamous “bro-hug” with Obama, his appointment of a Sohail Mohammad to a Superior Court judgeship and, perhaps worst of all, his decision to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a series of special elections. But, he adds, given the Garden State governor’s many talents, these three hiccups can plausibly be explained away. At the same time, some conservatives are already opining openly that if Hillary Clinton runs in 2016 the GOP is finished. Case closed. This is preposterous on its face for many different reasons but not least because nothing in politics is certain. Plus, Christie seems to be the only presumptive candidate who is in fact tied with the former Secretary in all-important Ohio and reportedly more popular than her.

We’ll see if this is the case in three years’ time -- but it’s safe to conclude today that he’s got the “electability” box checked, something we all know is incredibly important when trying to win a Republican presidential primary.

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Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography