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January 16, 2014 9:34 AM Christie “Cruising” For a Bruising

By Ed Kilgore

Today’s First Read from NBC is a classic of example of the determination to see a glass half full. Under the headline “Poll: Christie cruising through the bridge scandal (so far),” Mark Murray provides a decidedly upbeat spin on a very mixed survey result for the New Jersey governor:

Nearly 70 percent of Americans say the bridge-closure scandal engulfing Chris Christie has not changed their opinion about the New Jersey governor, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll. In addition, 44 percent of respondents believe he’s telling the truth about his knowledge of the events surrounding the controversy.
And far more Americans view him as a strong leader rather than as a bully….
Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, explains that, overall, this is good news for Christie.
“The numbers suggest it’s far from politically fatal for him,” he says of the scandal, adding: “This is a developing story, so the extent of the damage down the road is an open proposition.”

Oh, yeah, Chrlstie’s also lost ten points in a month in a hypothetical face-off against Hillary Clinton. But that’s reported as though it is some sort of disconnected phenomenon that has nothing to do with BridgeGate.

Look, I agree the public hasn’t been following the Christie saga closely (outside media markets covering New Jersey), and that the damage to Christie has been less extensive than you’d think if you’ve been watching this story constantly. But let’s remember the context: Christie’s appeal to an otherwise skeptical-to-hostile GOP nominating electorate is that he has rare trans-partisan support and is the only hypothetical candidate who has run well (ahead of, in some polls) Hillary Clinton. If he loses that edge, who cares if he’s still reasonably popular? As a potential presidential candidate, he’s toast if he’s not running at least even with HRC. If you’re a conservative in an early caucus or primary state, why would you want to get behind a RINO squish who’s no more likely to beat HRC than the people you really like? So Chris Christie is indeed taking a blow in the Invisible Primary, and is hardly “cruising.”

UPDATE: Politico’s Kenneth Vogel has a hilarious lede for a piece on another front of the Invisible Primary where Christie’s in some trouble:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has apologized to his constituents for the George Washington Bridge scandal. Now, he’ll face his base.
Christie is headed to Florida for a series of events with some of the GOP’s deepest pockets — three Saturday fundraisers and a Sunday dinner with major donors from around the country.

And here’s what they’ll want to know:

“He has got a big problem, because perception is everything — perception is reality,” said Stan Hubbard, a billionaire Minnesota media mogul who is flying in for Sunday’s event. “I’m sure he’s an honorable, decent guy, but I wonder how the hell did he let this happen. I mean, who did he hire? What kind of idiot? It’s just ridiculous. How stupid.”
Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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