Is the Christie campaign now a corpus?

The Republicans’ best shot at the White House in 2016 just got stuck in traffic.

Some political reporters have been parsing poll questions about whether Conegate makes people think better or worse of Gov. Soprano, and Christie’s cheerleaders are rejoicing over the results. I never know how to read those answers; it matters too much whether the X% who say they think better or worse of someone due to Y were previously for him, previously against him, or previously undecided, and the crosstab cell sizes are usually too small to say anything about that.

But this only matters because Christie was getting set for a Presidential run, and because Christie – and only Christie, in all the polls I’ve seen – was close to HRC in 2016 trial heats. In the CNN poll from December, for example, he was two points up, 48-46, with Paul Ryan down 52-44 and all the others were down by 13-21 points: e.g., Hillary 58, Jeb 37. (Quinnipiac also showed Christed doing best, though with the others not as far back.)

So: Here’s the latest from the Marist poll:

If Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie were to face off in the 2016 presidential election, Clinton would defeat Christie by double digits. Half of registered voters — 50% — would support Clinton compared with 37% for Christie. 12% are undecided. When Marist last reported this question in December, voters divided. 48% supported Clinton while 45% were behind Christie. Seven percent, at that time, were undecided.

And that, as they used to say back when newspaper copy was typed, is a

– 30 –

End of story.

Of course I still hope the cover-up breaks down, just to make Christie’s defenders look as stupid and unprincipled as they are. But in terms of Presidential politics, I’m not sure it matters. It looks to me as if the Republicans’ best chance to retake the White House in 2016 just got stuck in traffic.

Update Ooops! Ed Kilgore had this first. The way I look at it, if I’m only half a day behind Kilgore in political analysis, I’m doing OK.

Update on Durham, NC Absentee v Same Day Register Voting

Following up on yesterday’s post, I managed to get some data for the share of Same Day Registration and Voting during early voting by party (in 2008 from SBOE; 3rd link from top), and the party breakdown of Absentee voting in Durham County, North Carolina (from the 2012 election; received from the Durham Board of Elections by email). I compiled a table below. You can see that people registering as unaffiliated had a similar share of Absentee mail voting in 2012, and same day registration and voting during 2008 (I can’t find this broken down by party of registration for 2012), but that Republicans were much less likely to use same day registration/voting, with Democrats being more likely. Same day registration and voting during the early voting period is now gone. Absentee voting by mail remains. If someone showed an ID as everyone will now have to do, why not allow same day registration and voting? The effect of ending same day registration and voting by party is fairly clear, in Durham County, North Carolina, at least.

Party Share by Absentee Mail & Same Day Register/Vote
Durham County, North Carolina
Mail Same Day
2012 2008
Party N % N %
Dem 2355 46.9 2729 59
Rep 1267 25.3 580 12.5
Una 1381 27.5 1295 28
Liber 13           <1 18           <1
Total 5016 4622

The potential impact of one voting change in Durham, N.C.

The North Carolina General Assembly is set to enact a sweeping series of changes to the voting laws. The most high profile change has been the requirement to show an ID to vote. Nate Cohn says the requirement to show an ID would have reduced President Obama’s total in North Carolina by 25,000-30,000 votes, had the proposed law been in effect in 2012. Gov Romney won North Carolina by around 92,000 votes in 2012, but President Obama won North Carolina by ~14,000 votes in 2008.

Below, I estimate that in Durham County, North Carolina alone, President Obama would have had a net reduction of at least 2,460 votes if voters had been unable to register and vote on the same day during early voting; the bill that is about to become law ends this option. I cannot find the data for the same analysis below, conducted statewide. Continue reading “The potential impact of one voting change in Durham, N.C.”

Chris Christie’s Got “It”

Clara Bow was Hollywood’s original starlet with “It”, that undefinable quality that made people immediately like her. Politicians who lack “it” (e.g., Mitt Romney) have a hard time getting elected, no matter how much money they spend and how much policy detail they master. Politicians who have “it” (e.g., Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan) in contrast are lifted by their likeability among voters, so much so that they can for example be returned to office even in rough economic times.

People who don’t understand politics often respond to an enemy politician’s likeability by screeching “Well, voters won’t like him/her once they find out that (insert long indictment of the politician’s policy record here)”. But what arch-liberals learned to their great pain during Reagan’s Presidency and arch-conservatives are learning during President Obama’s is that blistering attacks of this sort tend to boomerang. The attacker’s fellow partisans may love it, but swing voters react by feeling protective of the politician, i.e., “who’s that nasty person beating up on someone I really like?”

Of the Republicans who might run for President in 2016, who’s got “it”?: Chris Christie. His performance on Letterman, which left his host in stitches, was about a good as you will see (The doughnut, and his beautifully delivered explanation for it, were particularly masterful). He comes across in a way that Romney never did: As a regular, accessible and unpretentious person with whom many people would be happy to have a beer. And being fat helps: Americans have historically liked hefty presidents and they probably like them more now that obesity is prevalent and they enjoy comparison points that don’t make them feel bad about their own waistline.

About 40% of Americans are going to vote Republican in 2016 no matter what, and a similar proportion will vote Democratic no matter what. The rest of the voting population may well be swayed by something no more complicated than a sense that they “just kinda like him/her for some reason”. That isn’t what a policy wonk wants to believe, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Christie’s got “it” and that means he has a real shot at the top job if he wants it. And for the same reason, GOP proposals to split the electoral college vote in Virginia and Pennsylvania by district are self-defeating because Christie’s the kind of likeable candidate who could put those states back in the R column.

2016 is a long, long way off, but I’m keeping my eye on the big fella from Jersey.