Can Chris Christie Turn Terrorism Fears into Votes?
Policy + Politics

Can Chris Christie Turn Terrorism Fears into Votes?

© Dominick Reuter / Reuters

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has spent a lot of time in New Hampshire over the last two months, staging more than three dozen town hall meetings and garnering a coveted endorsement from the New Hampshire Union Leader in his long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Aside from that endorsement, though, he hasn’t seen much of a payoff so far.

In the latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey about the Granite State, the hard-charging Christie has moved up from 3 percent support from likely Republican voters to 9 percent today. That moves him from ninth place to fourth place in a contest still dominated by Donald Trump.

Related: Can Christie Talk His Way Back to the Top of the GOP Pack?

After a disastrous presidential launch that was marred by the Bridgegate scandal and controversy over his handling of New Jersey’s budget and pension fund, the once high-flying Christie has placed all of his chips on the New Hampshire primary next February. The blustery, tell-it-like-it-is former U.S. district attorney is highlighting his experience as a prosecutor and chief executive of New Jersey, arguing he would be better equipped than Trump, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida or former neurosurgeon Ben Carson to safeguard the country at a time when voters are shaken by the terrorist attacks in Paris and a spate of domestic mass shootings.

“Gov. Christie is right for these dangerous times,” wrote Joe McQuaid, the Union Leader’s publisher wrote last weekend. “He has prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters.”

At a town hall meeting on Monday night, Christie said that in the wake of the Paris attacks voters should not be taking a chance by looking for a candidate inexperienced in government and politics or who spends most of his time at congressional hearings in Washington.

Whether all of this will work remains to be seen. In the new PPP survey, the New Jersey governor enjoys the highest net favorability rating of any of the Republican candidate, with 39 percentage points – a vast improvement from August when he was literally minus 11.

On what matters most, however – that is, who the Republicans are willing to vote for in the primary -- Trump continues to prevail with 27 percent, followed by Cruz with 13 percent, and Rubio with 11 percent.

Cruz, a favorite of evangelical Christians and his party’s hard right, is gaining momentum in New Hampshire, just as he has in Iowa and elsewhere. Rubio, in contrast, has lost a little ground since October.

Related: Executive Experience a Double-Edged Sword for Some GOP Candidates 

Meanwhile, Carson came in fifth in the poll, with 9 percent, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (8 percent), former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (6 percent), and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (5 percent).