New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) keeps looking more and more like a 2016 presidential candidate, but his poll numbers aren’t pretty.
There has been a steady stream of new lows for Christie’s approval rating in both national and state polls. On Monday, Quinnipiac University released a poll showing that his numbers in New Jersey hit a record low. That was preceded by similarly disappointing results in Farleigh Dickinson University’s Public Mind survey.
His poor poll numbers and reports of imminent indictments in the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal have led to speculation that Christie, who was once seen as a clear candidate, might decide not to run in 2016. However, in the past couple of weeks, Christie has made a series of moves that seem to clearly indicate he’s preparing to lauch a White House bid.
Christie may indeed be gearing up for a run, but his image has unquestionably been tarnished in recent months and its going to be a major obstacle for his campaign.
Business Insider examined the results from both the Quinnipiac and FDU polls since Christie took office in January 2010. His approval rose steadily in the first few months of his administration. It made a dramatic climb in late 2012, after Christie was praised for his handling of Hurricane Sandy.
While Christie’s approval rating began to return to Earth in early 2013, it took a nosedive at the start of last year and has never recovered. This drop in Christie’s numbers coincided with the emergence of the “Bridgegate” scandal, which consists of accusations that the governor may have caused a traffic jam in a town next to the George Washington Bridge in order to get revenge on a political rival.
The chart below shows just how badly Christie’s approval numbers have tanked. It maps his net approval rating, which is his approval rating minus the percentage of voters who disapprove of him, in both polls from his late 2012 height through the recent decline. The drop in Christie’s net approval rating is quite dramatic:
Christie’s national numbers also don’t look good for his potential presidential candidacy. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released in March showed that, as in New Jersey, GOP voters around the country have a negative impression of Christie. The poll found 57% of Republicans could not ever see themselves voting for Christie.
While these obstacles seem daunting, Christie shows no sign of slowing down. Last week, Christie travelled to New Hampshire, which is home to the first presidential primary. The trip led the Wall Street Journal’s Heather Haddon, a veteran Christie observer, to declare that he had “started looking like a candidate.”
After Christie hit the campaign trail, he appeared on “The Tonight Show” on Wednesday and said he plans to make a decision about whether to run “by May or June.” And on Friday, news broke that Christie’s wife would be departing her position at an investment firm. Fox Business Network’s Charlie Gasparino reported the governor’s wife told associates that she was leaving the job ahead of Christie’s imminent campaign announcement.
Christie’s team did not respond to a request for comment on this story from Business Insider. However, in a conversation in January, a Christie ally explained why his supporters believe he could succeed in the crowded Republican primary. The ally argued that Christie’s political skills will propel him past his rivals once the campaign is in full swing and voters have a chance to see him making appearances and giving speeches.
“Let’s not forget that at the end of the day this is about candidates and their message. Christie is a superior communicator who operates well in the face of the media circus,” the ally said.
Christie’s sinking poll numbers in his home state, where voters have had more opportunities to see him than anywhere else, seem to call this rationale into question.
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