By Melanie Batley
The bridge-gate scandal engulfing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to be taking its toll, with more people now viewing the Republican negatively than positively for the first time, while increasing numbers believe he is lying about it, a new poll has found.
According to an NBC News/ Wall Street Journal survey conducted Jan. 22-25 of 800 Americans, 29 percent now view Christie negatively compared to 22 percent who view him positively. That’s a significant reversal from the poll taken in October when 33 percent of respondents had a positive view of him compared to 17 percent who held a negative opinion.
Meanwhile, 44 percent of those surveyed doubt Christie was telling the truth when he denied any knowledge of the alleged plan by his staff to slow traffic on the George Washington Bridge at Fort Lee, N.J. as political retribution against the city’s Democratic mayor. Forty-two percent, however, say he’s mostly telling the truth about his knowledge of the incident.
The results also mark a shift from an NBC/Marist poll taken earlier this month when 44 percent of those polled said he was mostly telling the truth, compared to 33 percent who said he wasn’t.
A full 79 percent of Americans now say they are aware of the story.
“We’re in the midst of an incredibly difficult story,” Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who helped conduct the survey, told the Journal. “We don’t know yet if this overwhelms his national standing.”
But McInturff added, “It changes the starting point of a national campaign.”
The largest erosion of support came from moderates. Just 22 percent view Christie favorably compared to 29 percent who view him negatively, a dramatic reversal from the October poll when 44 percent of moderates had a positive view of the governor, compared to just 13 percent who viewed him negatively.
His support among Democrats has also seen a reversal. In the current poll, just 15 percent view Christie favorably, compared to 37 percent who view him negatively. In October, 30 percent had a favorable view, compared to 17 percent who voiced a negative opinion.
While Christie has lost some ground with Republicans and self-identified conservatives, he has maintained a largely favorable image among them, though 20 percent of conservatives now view him in a negative light.
The results suggest that the controversies surrounding the governor have significantly damaged his broad appeal nationally and have already dented his 2016 presidential prospects.
In a presidential match-up with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, support for Christie has slipped by 10 points since the NBC/ Marist poll. Clinton had just a three point lead then at 48 percent compared to Christie’s 45 percent support. In today’s poll, Clinton leads by a margin of 50 percent to 37 percent.
Christie is currently facing multiple state and federal inquiries related to both the bridge-gate controversy and the alleged misuse of superstorm Sandy funds.
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