2016 Presidential Candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his 2024 Presidential Campaign Tuesday night. Christie served two terms as Governor of New Jersey, winning re-election for his second term by a wide margin in the blue state. Although his 2016 Presidential Campaign failed (he dropped out after finishing tenth in Iowa and sixth in New Hampshire), Christie delivered a memorable takedown of Marco Rubio in a February 2016 debate. After dropping out of the race, Christie endorsed Donald Trump, becoming one of his first major backers in the 2016 GOP Primary process.
Over seven years later, Christie launches another presidential run primarily focusing on taking down former President Donald Trump. Trump passed over Christie for a variety of key positions in his administration, and Christie completely turned on him after the January 6th Capitol riot. Christie has unleashed attack after attack on Trump, calling Trump a child and trying to goad him into a 2024 GOP Primary debate. Christie has recently taken aim at Trump’s fellow 2024 front-runner Ron DeSantis, saying he is not ready for prime time and is not a true conservative.
Christie has a lot of work to do to become the Republican nominee, given his weak polling numbers. A recent SSRS poll listed him at 2% support, his highest showing of the year. Since President Trump is still very popular with Republicans, Christie may find it difficult to win the nomination by criticizing the former President. Mets owner Steve Cohen, one of the wealthiest men in the world, will be Christie’s primary financial backer.
Christie was a Republican governor of a generally liberal northeastern state, and he certainly boasts less of a hardline conservative record than other 2024 GOP contenders. He signed legislation to illegalize bump stocks and outlaw conversion therapy, negotiated a bipartisan budget plan that increased education and pension funding, and voiced support for civil unions when most of the Republican Party opposed them. The Atlantic even published an article called “Chris Christie Is Becoming Democrats’ Favorite Republican,” touting his implementation of Obamacare and moderate social views.
Given that Christie has criticized the former President more than any other candidate in the field, he will not perform well with Trump’s base. Given his terrible relationship with Trump outlined above, he is unlikely to win the eventual support of any Trump loyalist.
The Evangelical Right
Given Christie’s history of supporting socially moderate policies, it is hard to see why voters who identify with the evangelical right would support him. Furthermore, the Catholic Christie will be unlikely to reach out to these voters in the same way as other candidates, such as Tim Scott, which further lowers his ability to woo voters who are skeptical of both Trump and DeSantis.
Christie, at one point, could have earned the support of more populist voters. He at least has a history of spurning the Republican establishment and lashing out at big business. However, he has recently taken aim at the two most important populist fighters in his party (Trump and DeSantis), even though they have much higher levels of name recognition and support with Republican voters.
Christie’s brash and unapologetic style has alienated the party’s traditional establishment, and his unwavering support of Trump in 2016 has given these voters even less of a reason to support him.
Decision Desk HQ is profiling each GOP presidential candidate and where their strengths and weaknesses are within the Republican primary coalition. You can read about the 5 Groups of GOP Voters here or see the previous profiles below: