The Case for Christie Staying in the Race
The NJ Governor may do more good campaigning against Trump than dropping out and endorsing Haley
A CNN/University of New Hampshire poll released Tuesday created even more calls for former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to drop out the race. According to the poll, Nikki Haley has surged 12 points since November and now trails Trump by only seven. Notably, Christie has the support of 12% of New Hampshire voters. There is no question that Christie's staying in the race makes it nearly impossible for Haley to overtake Trump. And if Trump wins the first two contests, the Republican primary is over.
An analysis from FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich found that Nikki Haley is the overwhelming second choice of Christie voters. Therefore, if Christie were to drop out, most of his support would go to Haley — potentially giving her enough to beat Trump.
With ever-increasing levels of urgency, Haley supporters and the Never Trump wing of the Republican Party have been pushing Christie to drop out and endorse Haley. They view this as their last and best shot to derail Trump’s glide path to the nomination. I made this case in Message Box in December. Christie cannot be persuaded. He has refused to quit and even aired an ad making the case for why he should stay.
It’s also worth noting that Chris Christie will not be the nominee — no matter how well he performs in New Hampshire. Republicans are nominated either by winning a majority of delegates or in the less likely (but much more fun scenario) when party insiders have to find a replacement for Trump because he is bound for prison. Christie’s main (and most significant) problem is that Republican voters hate him. Even in New Hampshire, by far his best state, his favorability rating among Republicans is negative 58! He would probably do a little better if he ran in a Democratic primary.
Christie’s reasons for staying in the race likely emanate from his infamously large ego and desire for attention. He loves performing the Christie Show in VFW halls and diners across New Hampshire. This is his last hurrah. Too conservative for Democrats and too liberal for Republicans. The moment Christie drops out, the spotlight recedes and periodic appearances on Sunday Show roundtables become the highlights of his week.
However, there is a case to be made that Christie staying in the race may contribute more to defeating Trump in November than dropping out and throwing his support behind Haley in New Hampshire.
A Haley Win is Unlikely
On the same day the CNN/UNH poll was released, another poll showed a very different result. A Suffolk University/Boston Globe/USA TODAY poll showed Trump with a 20-point lead over Haley. Which poll is correct? No one knows and it doesn't matter because what happens in Iowa on Monday night will have a significant impact on the results in New Hampshire.