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)

    Not going to lie, if Chris Christie runs for president, which I hope he does, I would vote for him in the republican primary here in Florida. I am NOT a conservative, but I would like to see this "moderate" have a larger audience. Our country is too divided, we need some middle ground and I think Christie is that. Hopefully the GOP allows him to run, instead of a crazy like Rick Santorum. I suggest we all do the same! Also I think he's trying to call himself a conservative so he can run in the GOP primary, since a lot of people will complain about his "leftness" lol.

    November 5, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  2. Brian

    Governer Chris Christie as president? I think that it wouldn't be bad for the nation but I don't think it would be good. I think that he is a great canidate for the republicains but I don't think that the US can afford to be run by republicans. I think that he should be the Vice president though. With Clinton as the President and Cristie as the VP we would have a better chance as a nation. then after he's had white house experiance then maybe. But I think that it would be a great powerhouse for the US to have a Clinton/Cristie administartion.

    November 5, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. Jack33

    Honestly, Christie would be wasting his time on a White House run, as he will not win the Presidency – the east coast is far too myopic to realize that what they call "flyover Country" isn't interested in their republican candidates, and are either vastly more democratic than what Christie could ever offer, or vastly more republican (all of this varying by district & State, but with greater polarization regardless).

    November 5, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  4. counterww

    This is the Republicans best chance of taking back the white house. He is smart and of the right fortitude to bring us back from the brink bush and obama have brought us to.

    November 5, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  5. Stephen Smith

    I was in the room in Convention Hall in Asbury Park, and the mood was electric, Chris Christie is a unifier, not a divider, and truly someone who is working to get our state moving forward. He had a great turn in his speech tonight, when he talked about how he had hugged so many people after the superstorm Sandy. What was cool about his speech, was when he said how those hugs, of the people truly damaged by the storm, strengthened him, and made him work harder. It was also wonderful to see the true love of his children and family for him up on stage. I was very very impressed. Go Chris, you have my vote, and my labor, to help you win in 2016, Middletown NJ

    November 6, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  6. Denny Crane, Esq.

    The Republicans have moved so far to the Right that they are almost certain to lose. However, a certain faction of the Democratic Party may insist on running Hilary Clinton, who will have to spend her entire candidacy answering questions about Benghazi and Whitewater. A large portion of middle America does not like her, especially middle-age moderate to conservative white guys. If the Republicans run Christie, middle America will sway back to the Republican Party, and the Democrats will manage to lose to a Republican Party that is currently on the ropes and ready to be counted out.

    November 6, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  7. carrotroot

    PPP polling still shows Christie loosing to Clinton in 2016 if the matchup was between them. Christie's problem is the Republican party they represent an America of the past, not the present.

    November 6, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  8. soriyacompany

    Good. I like Christie.

    November 6, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  9. Midiman

    Sorry. It means nothing. This plug will never be POTUS.

    November 6, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  10. Thomas

    Congratulations Governor .
    Your Good for Jersey

    You will never be President .

    November 6, 2013 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  11. baccusboy

    Chris Christie is anti-gun. He won't win the Republican nomination because of this one fact. And nobody will trust him if he tries to lie like Obama to get the nomination.

    November 6, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  12. Michael Benjamin

    What it means is a bloody fight within the Republican Party. This should be interesting watching them tear the party apart as the pragmatic joust with the purists. A party adrift not knowing what they want or how to get it. It will not end well for them in 2016.

    November 6, 2013 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  13. aasii

    That he has a good chance if he wins primary...

    November 6, 2013 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  14. esu589

    I have been a republican since I started voting. However, I could never support Christi for president. He reminds me of a longshoreman enforcer. He is almost as arrogant as BHO and would be another embarrassment.

    November 6, 2013 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  15. BrianR73

    You mean in New Jersey everything is functional...I beg to differ...

    November 6, 2013 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  16. Francis Ushie

    Congratulations to Chris Christie, on his second term victory as New Jersey Governor.
    You are a people's governor and that nullifies any party symbol; you are always with the people
    and they'll always be with you.
    I have countlessly said it that you'll be the next president of the united states of America.
    Now, you'll have to start to reach out to the world as your entire constituency, not
    just New Jersey,

    November 6, 2013 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  17. esg20814

    It is hard to believe so many people take this guy seriously. Does everyone forget Christie cancelling the Trans-Hudson tunnel for his own political gain, and then overtly lying about the facts?

    Commuters from New Jersey to New York face horrible congestion because New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains have to share two 100-year-old single track tunnels to cross the Hudson. The Trans-Hudson tunnel would have doubled capacity.

    Christie cancelled the tunnel and then boasted about it repeatedly at Republican venues such as the Bush Institute. He said New Jersey would have to pay 70 percent of the cost, while the Government Accountability Office (an independent, nonpartisan Congressional investigative agency) said the state's share was only 14.4%.

    This guy is just one more cynical Republican hypocrite: "screw the middle class and cut taxes for the rich who fund my campaigns".

    In the next 20 years commuter demand across the Hudson is expected to rise 38 percent - even much worse than today. New Jersey voters waiting to get to work in Manhattan will have only themselves to blame.

    November 6, 2013 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  18. GEO

    Why is it New Yorkers always think their mayors are good for the presidency? You are just a forking town like hundreds others. Your mayors don't have the credentials for the national office. Stop insulting the rest of us.

    November 6, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  19. Marie MD

    Absolutely NOTHING. Christie has come out against gay marriage, women's rights and he is still a loudmouth bully and not presidential material. He is not that much of a moderate and will side with his repugs. He has lost more weight though. The lap and surgery has worked it seems.
    Can you see him and Putin fighting against each other sitting on a horse shirtless? I can and it's NOT pretty.
    I see that racist dandy from KY is vying for a vp position just in case. Another reason not to vote for either for any national office.

    November 6, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  20. John Stewart

    LoL...AND HAS NO SHOT OF BEATING Hillary in 2016.

    November 6, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  21. W.G.

    What Christie´s victory eally means is that there are a lot of ignorant people in New Jersey . His party is anti -women
    anti gay and anti minority . There are thousands in N.J. still suffering because of Sandy . He sold out the
    children of his state and their education and has the nerve to CUSS out teachers who complain . He´s not
    a caring Gov. he´s a cheap fat FRAUD !

    November 6, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  22. Edward Simpson

    I don't live in NJ so I'm looking at him from afar, and I'll get to know him better as he starts his campaign for GOP candidate. So far he appears to be an effective governor, but to me he comes across in his overall brusque manner as someone who would be more comfortable in the role of king rather than a person having to deal with an entrenched political opposition he'll encounter in DC.

    November 6, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  23. OrmondGeorge

    "What Christie's victory means for the next presidential race"
    It means he MIGHT grudgingly get the Republican nod so he can lose to Hillary in the general election.

    November 6, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  24. Gurgyl

    Chris's just change the affiliation to Democratic. Nothing wrong–quite common in politics. You sound a democrat to me in reality too. Good luck, gov. Chriss.

    November 6, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  25. Ivar Tangen

    Very hard to understand my fellow Americans, the Republicans leaves are political system in ruins and we're the world laughing stock, and still so many has faith in them.........

    November 6, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
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