Poll finds Christie with huge lead over possible Dem challengers


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is an early favorite to keep his seat in the state's upcoming gubernatorial race, according to a new poll, raising Democratic fears that the party lacks a strong challenger with less than a year to go until Election Day.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind Poll gives him double-digit leads over three tested Democrats, only one of whom has officially announced her intention to pursue the seat.

Christie leads Democrats' first official candidate, state Sen. Barbara Buono, with 64 percent support to her 21. He leads potential candidate state Sen. Richard Codey with 59 percent support to Codey's 26 percent, and takes 65 percent support to state Sen. Steve Sweeney's 19.

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And even among Democratic respondents, none of the three potential contenders manages to take 50 percent support.

That's partly because Christie remains well-liked in New Jersey, with 73 percent of registered voters saying they approve of the job he's doing as governor — his second-highest approval rating to date.

That strong approval, coupled with more than $2 million already in his campaign coffers for his next bid, could explain why no Democrat other than Buono has yet officially launched a bid to challenge Christie.

County Democratic chairmen expressed frustration over the lack of a credible challenger to New Jersey Democratic Party Chairman John Wisniewski during a conference call on Monday, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Both Codey and Sweeney are expected to decide in the coming weeks whether they'll jump in the race. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D) is also considered a possible contender.

The survey was conducted among 700 registered voters from Jan. 2-6 and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

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