Christie’s approval rating soars

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has seen a dramatic bump in his approval rating in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the super-storm that pummeled his home state late last month.

The Republican governor, who served as the keynote speaker at this year's Republican National Convention and is widely considered a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is now seen favorably by 67 percent of New Jersey voters. That's a rise of 19 percentage points from October in the poll from Rutgers University released Wednesday.

Christie will face reelection next year, and is likely to face popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) in the contest. But if the governor is able to solidify some of the gains earned by his handling of the storm's aftermath, he could significantly improve his chances of winning a second term.

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But there is a concern that Christie's short-term reward for working closely with President Obama could hurt his long-term prospects within the Republican Party. Already, some prominent conservatives have argued that Christie's embrace of the president in the days following the storm hurt GOP nominee Mitt Romney's electoral chances.

And there is evidence that Christie might simply be endearing himself to Democrats. A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed that New York voters were most likely to name Christie as having done the best job responding to the storm. Christie was the choice of 36 percent of voters, besting President Obama's 22 percent, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 15 percent and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 12 percent.

Nearly nine in 10 voters across the river — 89 percent — said Christie's response was "excellent" or "good," besting the president's 85 percent and Bloomberg's 75 percent.

"The storm of the century brings out the best in Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers say. But that love-fest between New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and President Barack Obama seems to have moved voters especially," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement. "While all four leaders get very high marks — it seems a hug or two never hurts."

In the Rutgers poll of New Jersey, 81 percent of voters said Christie and Obama showed "needed cooperation and bipartisanship," while just 12 percent said the governor went too far in embracing Obama.

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