Chris Christie, New Jersey’s first-term governor, is essentially tied with President Barack Obama as the “hottest” sitting U.S. politician in a Quinnipiac University “national thermometer” reading.
The poll, released today, finds one group gives the two sharply different rankings: women feel far more warmly about the president than the Republican governor, who has become a provocative figure on YouTube videos where he is seen battling with teachers and other union members over their pay and benefits.
Christie received an overall rating of 57 degrees, while Obama scored 56.5. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. In a National Review interview published March 2, Christie said he thought he could beat Obama in 2012 if he were to run. Christie has repeatedly said he won’t seek his party’s nomination next year.
Christie “has clearly made a positive impression on the American people, at least the half who are familiar with him,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “This measure is not any kind of presidential trial heat, but it does reflect how voters feel about national figures, including politicians.”
Kevin Roberts, Christie’s spokesman, declined to comment today in an e-mail.
The poll asked voters to rate sentiments toward 23 public figures, including politicians. Respondents rated leaders 0 to 100 degrees on a “feeling thermometer.” The higher the number, the warmer or more favorable a person said they felt toward that person; the lower the number, the colder or less favorable.
Thirty-five percent of women in the poll gave Obama a temperature rating between 81 degrees and 100 degrees, the warmest; Only 7 percent of women gave that same temperature to Christie.
Christie’s approval at home also is lower among women. In a Feb. 9 Quinnipiac poll of New Jersey voters, 52 percent approved of Christie. While the governor had support from 58 percent of men, only 46 percent of women approved.
Since taking office in January 2010, Christie has closed a $10.7 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, killed a proposed commuter-rail tunnel to Manhattan, and clashed with unions representing teachers and government workers.
Christie, 48, has campaigned for Republicans in other states and has been asked repeatedly about presidential ambitions. He has said he isn’t ready for the job.
Christie beat several other possible Republican challengers in today’s national poll, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Sarah Palin, a Fox News commentator and possible Republican presidential candidate, was 21st on the list at 38.2 degrees. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, was last at 32.9.
Researchers at Hamden, Conn.-based Quinnipiac surveyed 1,887 registered voters from Feb. 21-28 for the poll. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know enough about Christie to rate him.
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