(CNN) – In the wake of ongoing controversies, Gov. Chris Christie's losing ground to a potential 2016 Democratic presidential opponent and to possible GOP rivals, according to a new national poll.
A Quinnipiac University survey also indicates that Christie's standing among voters has dropped, as the Republican Governor from New Jersey has faced multiple controversies the past two weeks, including investigations of the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, allegedly carried out by top Christie aides as punishment for a New Jersey mayor who didn't endorse Christie's 2013 re-election.
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And over the weekend, a different Democratic mayor claimed the Governor used Superstorm Sandy recovery funds as leverage over a stalled development project in her city that Christie supported.
The poll's Tuesday release came as Christie was inaugurated for a second term as Garden State governor, a celebration overshadowed by the controversies and by a powerful winter storm.
According to the survey, Christie, who's seriously considering a White House bid, trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 38%-46%, in a hypothetical 2016 general election matchup. The Governor had a one point 42%-41% margin over Clinton in Quinnipiac polling last month. The biggest shift is among independent voters who were split between Christie and Clinton in December but now go for Clinton by a 15-percentage point margin.
Last month, by a 49%-31% margin, voters said Christie would make a good president. Now they are divided.
"New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie's 2016 presidential drive is stuck in traffic, sideswiped by Bridgegate, the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "In the last few months, Quinnipiac University national and state polls showed him inching ahead of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Today, she zips past him. But the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary are still two years down the road."
According to the poll, nearly three-quarters of voters have heard or read about the bridge controversy, with half of those saying the episode damages a potential White House bid by Christie. Three percent say it ends his chances, two percent say it helps them, and nearly two-fifths say the scandal will have no impact on 2016. In a separate question, just over a third say they'd be less likely to vote for Christie because of the controversy, with 56% saying it makes no difference.
While Christie's lost ground to Clinton in a hypothetical matchup, the survey indicates he still performs better against her than any of the other potential GOP White House hopefuls tested.
Following Christie's landslide re-election victory in nearly November, a slew of polls, starting with CNN/ORC International, indicated Christie rising to the top of the list among the potential candidates in the race for the 2016 GOP nomination. But the new Quinnipiac survey suggests the nomination hunt is back to being a wide open race. Christie was in first place, with 17% Republican backing, in December. Now he's down to 12%, basically all tied up with Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
As with every previous poll, Clinton remains the overwhelming front runner among potential Democratic White House hopefuls.
The survey also indicates that Christie's favorable rating among voters has dropped to 33% from 47% in December.
The Quinnipiac University survey was conducted January 15-19, well after the bridge controversy had made national headlines, but mostly before the widespread coverage this past weekend of the allegations from Hoboken's mayor. The Quinnipiac analysis is based on telephone interviews of 1,933 registered voters nationwide. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.