An exclusive Newsmax/IBOPE Zogby International poll shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie so dominates the GOP field for 2012 that he garners more than twice as many votes as his nearest Republican competitor.
The new poll reflects growing momentum for Christie, despite his repeated insistence that he’s not ready to be president and has no intention of running.
Christie’s strong showing is likely to further encourage those Republicans who are actively engaged in mustering support for a campaign to draft him to run. Supporters launched a DraftChristie2012 website last October.
The Newsmax/IBOPE Zogby survey shows Christie to be the choice of 23.6 percent of likely GOP primary voters. That dwarfs the 10.3 percent for second-place finisher Sarah Palin.
“Conservative voters like Chris Christie,” pollster John Zogby tells Newsmax, “because he offers an actual governing model that’s consistent with his and their philosophy.
“Essentially, he has been fearless in terms of tackling unions, tackling budget cuts, and so on,” Zogby says. “But they also know that he’s an affable personality, that he does not come off as this angry radical, but as a credible fellow.
“And at the same time,” says Zogby, “he’s portly, he’s real, he’s not out of central casting. And in many ways, for Republicans, he’s the un-Obama.”
Zogby says the results are consistent with other polls that show Christie dominating the field when he’s among the choices pollsters offer voters.
A Gallup poll released earlier this week, which did not include Christie as an option, showed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leading the GOP pack.
Others rounding out the field in the survey:
- Newt Gingrich — 7.9 percent
- Mitt Romney — 7 percent
- Ron Paul — 7 percent
- Michele Bachmann — 6.9 percent
- Mike Huckabee — 6.8 percent
- Tim Pawlenty — 5.9 percent
- Donald Trump — 5.1 percent
- Mitch Daniels — 2.6 percent
- Haley Barbour — 1.5 percent
One of the survey’s most interesting findings: “None of these” placed fourth with 7.8 percent. And “not sure” placed fifth with 7.6 percent.
According to Zogby, that signals the 2012 GOP race is wide open.
“This is a year for Republicans when I think being a fresh face may count for more than anything else – much the same way as it happened for Democrats three years ago,” he tells Newsmax. “It’s fluid, very fluid.”
Zogby said Christie, who shocked pundits by defeating then-incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in November 2009, is actually benefiting from not being a candidate.
“He cannot be a candidate right now,” Zogby tells Newsmax. “It’s too soon. He has unfinished work. The voters in his constituency in New Jersey would be angry and horrified. So the scenario for him would be to respond to an irresistible draft.”
Without a draft movement, Zogby says, it is difficult to see how Christie could get into the race.
The Newsmax/IBOPE Zogby international poll was conducted March 25 through March 28. Data on the GOP field was based on 1,030 online surveys of likely GOP primary voters. It has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.1 percent.
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