Friday, January 17, 2014

A bridge to 2016

After the bridge to Fort Lee scandal broke, people were quick to say that Chris Christie would not have a chance at the presidency.  New Hampshire is one of the states with the earliest primaries and also had a poll taken by Public Policy Polling (PPP) in the wake of the "scandal."  PPP last did a poll in New Hampshire in September of 2013.

In September of 2013, this is what PPP found when they asked GOP primary voters who they would prefer to see as the GOP presidential candidate in 2016.

Candidate
Percentage
Kelly Ayotte
12
Jeb Bush
14
Chris Christie
19
Ted Cruz
10
Bobby Jindal
3
Rand Paul
20
Marco Rubio
7
Paul Ryan
7
Rick Santorum
2
Not sure
6

PPP added Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker to the list for this poll and took out Kelly Ayotte and Rick Santorum.  But this is what they found in the latest poll of New Hampshir.

Candidate
Percentage
Jeb Bush
12
Chris Christie
24
Ted Cruz
9
Mike Huckabee
11
Bobby Jindal
3
Rand Paul
12
Marco Rubio
8
Paul Ryan
4
Scott Walker
3
Not sure
13

If you take out Huckabee, Christie is one of the biggest recipients, gaining 4 points, Bush: +2, Cruz: +1, Jindal: +1, Paul: +2, Ryan: +5, Walker: +1.

Who is Christie gaining with? If we look at the cross tab based on ideological factors, we see the following in September.

Candidate
Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very conservative
Kelly Ayotte
11
15
15
11
9
Jeb Bush
39
33
5
15
15
Chris Christie
16
35
37
14
8
Ted Cruz
34
2
2
8
19
Bobby Jindal
0
0
4
1
5
Rand Paul
0
2
16
24
24
Marco Rubio
0
0
6
10
5
Paul Ryan
0
8
5
7
10
Rick Santorum
0
0
2
2
2
Not sure
0
7
8
9
2

In January, we see the following:

Candidate
Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very conservative
Jeb Bush
0
32
13
10
8
Chris Christie
37
15
39
26
6
Ted Cruz
0
2
1
6
24
Mike Huckabee
0
2
6
15
15
Bobby Jindal
0
2
1
3
7
Rand Paul
0
8
10
9
20
Marco Rubio
0
11
10
8
4
Paul Ryan
0
0
1
7
4
Scott Walker
31
0
2
4
3
Not sure
32
27
17
12
8

Christie has seen the biggest increase with the "very liberal" GOP primary voters and the somewhat conservative voters.  Very liberal voters may be joking when they say who they prefer to see as the GOP presidential nominee judging on their suggestion to have Cruz as their nominee.  Also evidenced by the fact that when they were asked without Huckabee out, 51% preferred Rand Paul and 49% preferred Scott Walker.  None of this could be predicted based on Huckabee not being there.

But ANYWAY, Christie's biggest gain in the last few months has been with those who consider themselves somewhat conservative.  They do not seem to be affected by the recent bridge scandal.  PPP asked how the GOP primary voters felt about the bridge scandal and if their opinion of Christie has been higher, lower, or about the same in the wake of the scandal.

Higher
Lower
About the same
Not sure
14
18
64
3

How did that stack up among the various ideologies of the GOP primary voters?



Higher
Lower
About the same
Not sure
Very liberal
0
0
100
0
Somewhat liberal
2
47
48
3
Moderate
19
25
55
1
Somewhat conservative
12
10
72
5
Very conservative
13
19
66
2

People who are somewhat conservative have only a slightly higher view of Christie in the wake of the scandal (+2 basically) but yet Christie picked up 12 points among somewhat conservative voters.  You can make the following assumptions:

1. There is a sampling error
2. Christie was able to pick up votes among somewhat conservatives despite not saying they have a higher opinion of Christie now.

I'm ignoring 1 for the time being.  I think #2 is increasingly likely.  Based on previous polling, we know that Republican politicians have found significant support among Republican supporters after scandals.  This is based off of polls after Mark Sanford was charged with trespassing and Mitt Romney's comments about the 47%.  But why are we seeing that?

I think, in large part, it has to do with the consistent and persistent idea of many Republican supporters that the media has an inherent and seemingly unforgivable liberal bias.  When people hear these type of stories, they will blame the news organization who reported it as attacking their candidate.  They will then show their support by supporting their candidate in direct contrast to the news organizations' reports.  I have yet to quantify how politicians have actually benefited from scandals, but it is in the works. 

The other part of this is the idea of defensive bias.  When someone tries to contradict you, you retreat into a shell like a turtle.  Your support for your point gets larger while you're in your shell.  Instead of listening to evidence that contradicts your point, you simply ignore it and lash out at others.  Or you believe a lie and when you're confronted with the truth, you are more likely to believe the lie.  This is part of what is happening, as well.

All told, the bridge scandal probably helps Christie with the GOP primary in 2016.  Don't be surprised if there are more stories that come out about Christie, helping him a little bit at a time. 

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