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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's constituents don't believe he'll run for president

A majority of voters in Christie's home state doubt he'll seek the GOP presidential nomination and 60% think he would lose to President Obama, a new poll shows. Other surveys show dissatisfaction with the Republican field of candidates and a big lead for Donald Trump in name recognition.

April 20, 2011|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has famously joked that he could commit suicide and some people would still think he was running for president. Now a Quinnipiac University poll of his constituents, the people who presumably know him best, shows that most take him at his word and believe he will not run in 2012 presidential cycle.

That’s the good news for the no-nonsense governor, described as a bully and arrogant, according to the poll released on Wednesday. Christie’s approval rating is down since February and a solid majority throw cold water on his claim that he could beat President Obama.

“Voters don’t believe Gov. Christie, 60% to 33%, when he says he can beat President Obama,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said. “They do believe Christie, 53% to 41%, when he says he’s not running.”

Christie has spent months trying to convince everyone that he had no intention of running for president and that he did not feel the urge in his heart or his mind.

“Listen, I threatened to commit suicide. I did, I said, ‘What can I do short of suicide to convince people I’m not running?’ ” Christie told a Washington audience in February. “Apparently, I actually have to commit suicide to convince people I’m not running.”

Christie’s viable noncandidacy is another indication of just how fragile the GOP presidential sweepstakes remain. Fewer than half of all Republicans in a Washington Post-ABC News poll this week said they were satisfied with their more than a dozen choices in the field of possible candidates. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney placed the highest at about 16%, barely beating out “no one/not any of them” at 12%.

Donald Trump, the businessman and self-promoting reality television star, stands out as the most visible of the GOP names, according to a poll released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press. Trump was cited by 26% of all Americans as a potential GOP presidential candidate. Among Republicans he was named by 39%, more than all others combined.

The rapid rise of Trump — and the refusal of the Christie boomlet to completely evaporate — are a testament to name recognition, the weakness of the field and comparatively limited interest that the presidential race has generated so far in its early days.

Just 20% of those surveyed nationally said they followed possible candidates for the 2012 presidential elections very closely last week and only 4% named it as their most closely followed news story, according to Pew. The survey was conducted April 14-17 among 1,015 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points for the full sample.

In New Jersey, Christie’s approval rating was almost evenly divided, 47% favorable to 46% unfavorable, compared with a 52%-40% split in February, according to Quinnipiac. President Obama, whose national approval rating has been falling recently, did well in the poll, garnering a 51% to 45% approval rating.

The poll is based on interviews with 1,532 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

michael.msukal@latimes.com
Twitter.com/LATimesmuskal

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