November 5th, 2013
08:41 PM ET
5 years ago

What Christie's victory means for the next presidential race

(CNN) - Chris Christie's re-election speech Tuesday night sounded like something more, as the Republican governor of New Jersey with national aspirations touted his bipartisan successes and railed at the partisan gridlock in the nation's capital.

"It wasn't an acceptance speech, that was an announcement speech," said CNN contributor Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and veteran of numerous GOP campaigns.

While much of his address was directed at his New Jersey audience, Christie also had a message for the nation.

"I know tonight, a dispirited America, angry with their dysfuctional government in Washington, looks to New Jersey to say,'Is what I think happening really happening? Are people really coming together. Are we really working, African-Americans and Hispanics, suburbanites and city dwellers, farmers and teachers. Are we really all working together.' Let me give the answer to everyone who is watching tonight: Under this government our first job is to get the job done and as long as I'm governor that job will always, always be finished," said Christie, who's seriously considering a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Election Night 2013: Christie wins big, Virginia provides drama

Christie's victory was never in doubt.  And as the polls in the Garden State closed Tuesday night, CNN and other news networks quickly projected that the high-profile governor would win a second term in Trenton.

But the big questions heading into Election Day 2013 were how large a victory Christie would capture over Barbara Buono, his little-known Democratic challenger, and how Christie would perform with voters who tend to cast ballots for Democrats.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Christie was winning 60% of the vote, with Buono at 38%.

And according to CNN exit polls, Christie performed well with groups that normally cast ballots for Democrats.

Christie and McAuliffe took different paths to victory

Exit polls indicate the GOP governor grabbing 57% of the female vote and winning all age groups except 18 to 29, which he narrowly lost. Christie also won the Latino vote and took just over a fifth of the African-American vote, a much better performance than most Republicans in recent elections.

As expected, Christie carried 93% of Republicans, according to the exit polls. But he also won two-thirds of independents and just over three in 10 Democrats in a state where Democrats and independents made up nearly three-quarters of Tuesday's electorate.

5 things we learned from Tuesday

Christie is seriously considering a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The exit polls appear to bolster Christie's case that he's among the most electable of the potential GOP White House hopefuls heading into 2016.

The conventional wisdom was that team Christie was hoping for an impressive victory in blue-state New Jersey. Christie talked about the margin of victory earlier Tuesday.

"Christie Whitman was elected twice here and never broke 50 percent. Nobody (no Republican) since 1988 has had a 5 in front of their name in a statewide race," Christie said in an exclusive Election Day interview with CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper.

Christie appeared to be referring to then Vice President George H.W. Bush, who grabbed 56% of the vote in New Jersey in his 1988 presidential election victory.

"My goal always in this race has been to at least get to 50% plus one, and anything above that is gravy and so I'll be really happy with that because that's a historical achievement - in 25 years no one has done that in New Jersey so I'll be happy with that," added Christie. "I suspect we may do better than that."

Christie held leads of 36 percentage points, 28 points and 20 points over Buono among likely Garden State voters in three public opinion polls released on the eve of the election.

That had pretty much been the storyline the entire campaign, after Christie's numbers skyrocketed late last year, thanks to his job responding to Superstorm Sandy, which caused billions of dollars in damage days before Election Day 2012.

Buono gets little support from fellow Democrats

Christie greatly outraised and outspent Buono, who received little support from national Democrats and their affiliated groups. And a number of leading Garden State Democrats backed Christie.

In her concession speech, Buono said that "the Democratic political bosses, some elected and some not, made a deal with this governor despite him representing everything they're supposed to be against. They didn't do it to help the state. They did it to help themselves financially and politically."

Christie's political future came up numerous times during the campaign.

"I can walk and chew gum at the same time," Christie said at one of two debates against Buono. "I can do this job and also deal with my future, and that's exactly what I will do."

Asked in an NBC News interview that aired last weekend whether he's planning for a message that extends beyond New Jersey, Christie replied, "I'm not planning for it - I just think it's inevitable."

Christie's new role

Christie was quickly congratulated by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the chairman and vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

"Governor Chris Christie's overwhelming victory proves that voters are looking for confident and competent leadership. His victory also proves that Republicans can compete and win in every state," said Jindal and Walker, in a statement.

Later this month, Christie takes over as RGA chairman, which will allow him to travel the country over the next year in support of GOP governors and gubernatorial candidates, giving an already visible potential White House hopeful even more visibility.

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada, the states that kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar, are among the three dozen states holding elections for governor next year.

Is Christie conservative enough?

While Christie appears to be scoring a very impressive victory in New Jersey, if he runs for the GOP presidential nomination he'll face a very different and much more conservative electorate in the Republican primaries and caucuses.

"I'm a conservative," Christie told Tapper. "I've governed as a conservative in this state."

Some on the right have criticized Christie as not being conservative enough. Add Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a favorite of tea party activists and another likely contender for the 2016 GOP nomination, to that list.

"I think the Republican Party is a big party, and we need moderates like Chris Christie who can win in New Jersey," Paul said Tuesday on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

"What that means about the national party, I'm not sure there's an answer. But we do need moderates like Chris Christie in the party," added Paul, as he accentuated his point.

Rand Paul labels Chris Christie a moderate

Filed under: 2013 • Barbara Buono • Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Jane

    I will NEVER vote for Christie as President and I am Republican. No one can stand him! Note to Republicans – listen to your constituents!

    November 5, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  2. oscar

    Be prepare for more tax hike.... I would only be happy if he could do something for the ugly traffic jam in NJ. Widening roads is not the solution. We need mass transit to decongest the roads !!!! Ahh please don't raise the toll next January. Do you think he cares..... he rides helicopters....

    November 5, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  3. Name carl

    I hope for Hillary Clinton for President 2016.

    November 5, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  4. Grinning Libber

    In a word "nothing" Christie has his moments but he is just no enough of a crackpot for the GOP.

    November 5, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  5. Tappy McWidestance

    Christie will crumble under the national spotlight. Heck, even Romney thought his negatives were too high. The TEA Party hates him for his bromance with Obama and he'll have to tack so far right in the primary that Hillary will never let him get back to the center once $500 million in negative ads goes up.

    November 5, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  6. Carol

    Congratulations Gov. Christie, and NJ.

    November 5, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  7. Sausage Frenzy

    If he is electable, it means he is fake. DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM!

    November 5, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain: The GOP owes our nation $24 billion

    What it means is if NJ gets hit with another natural disaster, it'll be interesting to see if Christie welcomes federal help or if he does a John McCain and goes from being an independent repub to just another suck-up to the extreme tea bag right and their monied masters.

    November 5, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  9. JG

    Funny that he said "anything more is gravy."

    November 5, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  10. Mr Dalloway

    It's not because he's fat Its because he's stupid!

    November 5, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  11. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    I didn't vote for him and I don't like him. A wolf in sheep's clothing. Watch and see.

    November 5, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  12. Larry in Houston

    """Nobody (no Republican) since 1988 has had a 5 in front of their name in a statewide race"""

    WoW !! a Very Impressive Speech !!! He's been taking "speech" lessons from our community organizer in chief....

    Like Alex Costellanos said : It's more of an acceptance speech...... I agree.

    Congratulations, Mr. Christie

    November 5, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Kelcy

    I thought what I heard about Christie last year must mean he was finally a more moderate republican so I started researching him. Seems he is today's standard issue hard right republican. As an independent I would never vote for him. His policies and practices seem to perfectly aline with the far right and I don't support their social issues.....whether they are affable persons or not. However, it seems that he has anger management issues to boot and can be a real snot. On the personal issue of his weight..... for someone that has gastric by-pass it seems he is not losing much weight. These days we know that carrying that much weight puts him at high risk for health problems. Three strikes makes him out for me.

    November 5, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  14. Cory111

    Chris and Cruz in the RNC debates should be interesting.

    November 5, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. john

    Probably means he might have the privilege of losing to Hillary Clinton...........

    November 5, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  16. Mr Dalloway

    What an unctuous victory for NJ!

    November 5, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  17. Mr Dalloway

    Christie, the pig that won't fly in D.C.

    November 5, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  18. Tampa Tim

    Third party candidate maybe.

    November 5, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  19. S. B. Stein

    Christie is conservative enough. He has worked ideologically because he refused to raise taxes on the wealthy and has cut funding to women's health clinics just because they offer abortions.

    November 5, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  20. Data Driven

    Well, it means he'll have to talk about his record. Let's take a look, shall we? (He assumed office in Jan 2010)

    New Jersey unemployment rate: 9.7% in Jan 2010. 8.5% in August 2013.
    NATIONAL unemployment rate: 9.8% in Jan 2010. 7.3% in August 2013. Christie is not performing as well as the national average. (Source: BLS)

    Education: Very complicated. Not a lot of statistics online, but for years New Jersey has been acknowledged as a public education leader. Rather than doing more of the same, however, Christie thinks the state is full of "failure factories". The effects of his anti-teacher policies have yet to be felt, but I suspect NJ's rankings will go down. "Jury still out"

    Crime ranking (#1 being least amount of crime): Jersey ranks #11th. But that's been more or less consistent for a couple of decades, if the hard-to-read statistics on crime are any indication. Verdict: a wash.

    So. Besides anemic job growth that's behind the national average, an education ranking that might be in jeopardy because of his antagonism to the very people who made it the best in the nation, and a non-factor crime situation, what exactly has Chris Christie done for New Jersey?

    November 5, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  21. RepR

    Chris for Prez 2016!

    November 5, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  22. Jack Hollis

    The only reason that Christie does so well in a liberal state is because he is a liberal. The only reason is is not a democrat is he decided to call himself a republican. He is a republican in name only, in all other ways he is a democrat. Only in the northeast can you have two democrats running for the same office in the general election.

    November 5, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  23. ItSoNlYmE

    "What Christie's victory means for the next presidential race": Absolutely nothing. The 2016 presidential race is THREE YEARS away. In terms of politics in America, that might as well be 3000 years.

    November 5, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  24. new jersey resident

    Congratulations Chris, make us all proud in washington 2016

    November 5, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  25. Danlien

    I can't see myself voting for a Republican for prez anytime soon. Not with all those cooks that shut down the government. The G.O.P does not listen to the American people. They only care about a small minority of Americans. Not a shed of grace in that party.

    November 5, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
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