Christie’s Nosedive

Christie Favorables

Benen flags a new poll:

The above chart is from the poll’s internals (pdf), showing Christie’s support over the course of four years. Note, the governor enjoyed steady-but-not-overwhelming popularity for a long while, only to see his support soar with the Sandy crisis.

According to the new data, that bump has now evaporated. Also note, the latest Quinnipiac poll offers some additional bad news – independents seem to be moving away from Christie rather quickly, which offered results roughly in line with the Pew Research poll we discussed yesterday.

Ezra compares Christie to LBJ:

President Barack Obama so often seems powerless before an intransigent Congress that it’s become common to hear people yearn for an LBJ-like executive — one who knows how to get things done. “LBJ-nostalgia is a reaction to Barack Obama’s presidency,” wrote the Economist. That nostalgia, however, is focused more on LBJ’s victories than on his methods. If the president tried to wield power in a similar fashion today, he would be driven from office.

Christie has been a beneficiary of LBJ nostalgia.

He’s a tough Republican governor in a blue state facing a Democratic legislature. He yells at people who oppose him. He swaggers across the national stage. He gets things done — including big things, such as pension reform — which encourages people to believe that maybe, just maybe, he’s a political leader who could make Washington work again.

Jon Chait instead compares Christie to Nixon, who “happily cut deals with Democrats in Congress.” Chait sees “no reason why a politician can’t abuse power and cooperate with the other party”:

Working with a legislature controlled by the opposite party is a shrewd way for an executive to maximize his power and influence. Genuine ideological opposition may prevent such deals, but if your only goal is power and influence, then you’re less likely to let that stop you. Indeed, the sort of threats and rewards Christie characteristically deploys would have little force if he were reliably partisan. It is only his willingness to cross party lines to help pliant Democrats — or punish disagreeable Republicans, like Tom Kean Jr. — that gives him the flexibility to be an effective bully. A reliable partisan would be locked into alliances with his fellow partisans, and locked into rivalries with the opposing party.

Barro feels that, on plenty of occasions, Christie was just doing his job:

I’ve seen a lot of “shocked, shocked” interviews with New Jersey politicians over the last few weeks, in which they are stunned to discover that political support for the governor might influence where a DMV office gets located or whose calls get returned. But those rewards and punishments are tools a smart executive uses to build legislative coalitions, pass budgets and policy reforms, and keep the state running smoothly. They are how Republicans and Democrats can work together effectively.

New Jersey residents shouldn’t want a governor whose staff causes traffic jams on purpose. But they shouldn’t want a governor who doesn’t try to instill favor in his allies and fear in his opponents — unless they want an end to bipartisanship.