New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Holds Election Night Party

Ambers weighs in on the question:

Chris Christie can win the presidency if he can win his party’s nomination. Forget the exit poll question showing that voters in New Jersey would have chosen Hillary Clinton over Christie for president. Christie would have done well enough in that scenario to win the presidency nationally. Can we meaningfully extrapolate? Well, sure. Is the 2016 Democratic nominee likely to win with the same “coalition of the ascendant” that drove Barack Obama’s engines? Probably not. But if the Republican nominee does better with Hispanics in the Intermountain West, slightly better with minorities and women in North Carolina and Virginia (or changes the composition of the electorate to include more white men), and turns out a higher proportion of Reagan Democrats in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida, then he can win. (The electorate in Pennsylvania is very much a testing ground.)

But Chait believes that shepherding Christie “through a competitive Republican primary will be vastly more difficult than anybody seems to be figuring at the moment”:

His ideological deviations are not fake. They’re real. Christie has openly endorsed gun control, called for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and conceded the legitimacy of climate science (“But when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role it’s time to defer to the experts.”)

The largest, and least appreciated, of Christie’s betrayals of party doctrine is his decision to participate in the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. Some other Republican governors have made the same decision, but they have all faced unrelenting and bitter opposition from legislators of their party and conservative activists. Unyielding hatred to every aspect of Obamacare, regardless of its practical impact, has become the main doctrinal tenet of conservative thought. That alone could potentially disqualify him.

Sides pushes back:

Chris Christie’s victory helps make him a more viable Republican presidential candidate.  Period.

Yes, he will face challenges if he chooses to run.  But there is no question that winning reelection so handily helps his cause, relative to a narrower victory.  And this should concern Democrats. There is some evidence that moderate candidates do better in presidential elections — and anything that makes it more likely that the GOP nominates someone like Christie as opposed to someone like Ted Cruz isn’t good for Democrats.  In short, last night made it more, not less, likely that Christie could be the nominee.  And, relative to someone like Cruz, having Christie as the nominee makes it more likely that the GOP can retake the White House in 2016.

Kornacki talks up Christie:

[T]here’s his trump card: Personality. Many people loath Christie, but plenty appreciate his swagger, especially in the Republican universe. The risk of Christie as a national candidate is that he’ll lose his temper at the wrong time, in the wrong way – an ugly explosion that becomes his identity and sinks his campaign. The flip side, though, is that he’s good at this game. He’s the rare politician who can talk to a room of people who disagree with them and win them over. They warm up to him, they laugh at his jokes, start to like him – then, without even realizing it, they’re working backward in their minds to tell themselves why, come to think of it, it actually wouldn’t be crazy to support him. I’ve seen him do this in rooms of skeptical Democrats. I’ve seen him do this in rooms of skeptical conservatives. And I can absolutely see him doing it in a room of skeptical Iowa Republicans two years from now.

Josh Marshall downplays Christie’s chances:

The ‘different kind of conservative’ who runs at least in part against his own party’s crazies on Capitol Hill after a big reelection victory is what took George W. Bush to the White House. But Bush had Texas, evangelical Christianity and the ambiguously powerful cachet of the Bush family name to make the whole thing work. On a national level he was running in part against DC conservatism. But the party’s base, for many reasons, always knew that he was one of them on tax policy, hot-button social issues and national security. That’s not the case for Christie. He’s a quintessential Northeasterner with a coarse version of the region’s regional edge in a party dominated by the South. I just don’t see that happening.

Lowry differs:

Christie is going to position himself as the outsider, the bipartisan uniter, the reformer, and the doer. All of these are naturals for a Republican winning reelection in a blue state and for a successful governor at a time of discontent with Washington — and potentially quite powerful. Let the race for New Hampshire begin.

(Photo: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie arrives to speak at his election night event after winning a second term at the Asbury Park Convention Hall on November 05, 2013 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Incumbent Governor Chris Christie defeated his Democratic opponent Barbara Buono by a commanding margin. By Kena Betancur/Getty Images)