July 2, 2015 — Returning to his high school roots in Livingston, NJ Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie officially became the 16th Republican presidential candidate when he declared his political intention at a rally-style announcement event. It is apparent that three more current or former governors will soon follow suit, bringing the record-size field of candidates to 19. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, John Kasich of Ohio, and former Virginia chief executive Jim Gilmore will each enter the race in July.
Saying that he’s “ … not looking to be prom king of America,” Gov. Christie elaborated, telling the assembled group and media that, “I mean what I say and I say what I mean and that’s what America needs right now.”
Christie has a long way to go in order to propel himself into the top tier of Republican candidates. Languishing in mid-single digits in most polls, usually with an upside-down personal favorability ratio, Christie will have a difficult time developing a path to the GOP nomination. Positioning himself to the left of the typical Republican primary voter with a brash personal style that many people find offensive, the Jersey governor will have to rebuild his personal image before he can hope to effectively compete for the nomination.
On the other hand, he has a fair chance of accumulating a significant number of delegates. New Jersey, with 51 delegates, is one of seven Winner-Take-All states, meaning that Christie could place first with a small plurality of votes equaling just a fraction of the support he received during his two gubernatorial campaigns. Assuming he collects other delegates in the proportional states, and should the nomination be decided in a brokered convention, Gov. Christie could find himself in an influential position to help determine the final outcome.
A new Public Policy Polling Michigan survey (June 25-28; 1,072 registered Michigan voters; 465 likely Michigan Republican primary voters; 431 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) provides us more data suggesting that Republicans may well be headed toward an open convention to decide who will become the party’s presidential standard-bearer.
The entire PPP sampling group skewed unusually negative. Testing favorability ratings of President Obama and 15 candidates from both parties, including Hillary Clinton, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Donald Trump, Christie, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, only one individual, Dr. Ben Carson, MD, scored positively. It was Gov. Christie who recorded the worst favorability score, registering a poor 19:57 percent favorable to unfavorable.
But, the ballot test among Republican respondents proved very interesting. Here, it is Walker topping the pack with just 15 percent, followed by three candidates all tied for second place at 14 percent. They are: ex-Gov. Bush, Dr. Carson, and Trump. For Trump, it appears his jump in the polls is not only limited to New Hampshire. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) trails at nine percent, with ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) just one percentage point behind him. Tying for seventh position, with five percent apiece, are Gov. Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Michigan will have an important role in determining who will be the next Republican presidential candidate. The state, holding 59 Republican delegates, uses a two-tiered apportionment system.
Forty-two of the delegates are distributed in groups of three to the state’s 14 congressional districts. The candidate scoring a plurality victory in each individual CD is awarded that district’s three delegates on a Winner-Take-All basis.
Statewide, the candidates’ support at the polls will determine how many of the 17 at-large, party, and bonus delegates each individual receives on a proportional basis. Therefore, it is likely we can expect a highly fractured vote coming from the Wolverine State Republican primary.