Washington (CNN) - What a difference two months makes.
In late November and early December, in the wake of Chris Christie's landslide re-election victory, the Republican governor from New Jersey was riding high in the polls.
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Christie topped the other potential GOP 2016 White House hopefuls in surveys of Republicans' choice for their next presidential nominee, and he was knotted up with Hillary Clinton in hypothetical general election showdowns.
Now, after month of intense media scrutiny over a couple of controversies in his state, Christie's numbers have faded, according to a new CNN/ORC International survey.
In a possible 2016 matchup with Clinton, the poll indicates Christie trails the former secretary of state by 16 percentage points, with Clinton at 55% and the Governor at 39% among registered voters nationwide. That's a dramatic switch from December, when Christie held a 48%-46% edge over Clinton.
"Christie has also lost ground among independents, who were the key to his strong showing late last year," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Christie got 59% support among Independents in December. Now that has dropped to 39%."
Race for GOP nomination
The survey released Monday indicates that the hunt for the GOP nomination is back to where it was before Christie's rise in the polls late last year: a pack of potential White House contenders with no obvious frontrunner.
But according to the poll, there is a new name on top of the list in hunt for the GOP nomination: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate.
Fourteen percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP say they would likely support Huckabee for their party's nomination if he runs.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is next at 13% followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Christie tied at 10%.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida are tied at 9%.
One point behind are Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, stands at 4%.
That's a change from November, when Christie was 11 points ahead of the rest of the field. Huckabee was not tested in the November survey.
Christie is facing allegations that some of his aides closed access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee last September to punish that town's mayor for not endorsing his re-election.
Separately, Hoboken's Democratic mayor alleges that Superstorm Sandy recovery aid for her hard-hit city was dependent on support for a development project backed by the governor – an assertion denied by top Christie officials.
"Because Huckabee was not included in the November poll, any drop in Christie's support among Republicans may be partly due to Huckabee as well as recent news stories. So it's impossible to calculate exactly how much support Christie lost as a result of the bridge controversy. But it's a pretty safe bet that the drop in Christie's support against Clinton is due to the recent news stories about the bridge," added Holland.
For all his problems, Christie matches up better against Clinton in the CNN poll than any other possible GOP contender tested. Clinton has a 20-point, 57%-37%, lead over Bush, an 18-point, 57%-39%, advantage over Paul, a 17-point, 56%-39%, lead over Huckabee, and a 55%-40% advantage over Ryan.
Clinton in strong polling position
Clinton says she'll decide whether to make a second run for the White House by the end of the year. If she does launch a candidacy, just about every poll indicates she would start her campaign as the overwhelming front runner to win the Democratic nomination.
According to the CNN poll, seven of 10 Democrats and independents who lean toward the party say they'd be likely to support Clinton as their nominee, with 15% likely to support a more conservative Democrats and one in 10 more likely to back a more liberal candidate.
"The CNN poll did not name specific Democrats who might run against Clinton, in part to test whether Clinton's strong position is due to dislike or unfamiliarity with the standard roster of potential Democratic candidates," says Holland. "The fact that Clinton tests so well against generic rivals is is a strong indication that Democrats are not shopping around, hoping that another candidate will throw his or her hat into the ring."
While Christie deals with the bridge and Sandy funding controversies, Clinton continues to deal with the September 2012 killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in an attack in Benghazi, Libya. The attacks came during her watch as secretary of state, and some Republicans have Clinton heavily over the attack and its aftermath.
But according to the poll, 62% approve of the job she did at the State Department, down 4 points from December 2012, a month before Clinton stepped down as American's top diplomat.
Nine in 10 Democrats and just over six in 10 independents said they approve of the job she did as secretary of state. That approval drops to 29% among Republicans.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International January 31-February 2, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
If you're fond of rotten political parties falling apart, I'm sure you're really hoping for the Democratic party to self-destruct.
Hillary is still alive? I thought she died under Obama. She looks like a corpse. Why should we recycle her?
I hope it isn't b/c people think Clinton is more politically clean than Christie is. If so, a lot of people are either blind, or they are drinking the kool aid.
Congratulations, CNN!! Slander works again for the Democrats.
liberals are so happy!!!!! they are not the nominees and we are 2 yrs away bozo's
A 19 point gap from a 2 point advantage. That's significant and I'm not even one who cares about polls. Christie's done! Either he had something to do with the bridge closing, which ruins him. Or he knew nothing about it, which still ruins him because it shows incompetency. Either way, he's toast.
Guessing CNN doesn't want CC..
Proof that when the liberal media rallies to smear someone, they succeed.
Hillary for 2016
I urge Democrats to work very harder and smarter to win the House in 2014 from Redumblicans.
Breaking news, are you serious CNN? Who cares? Wait... perhaps the media organization that celebratory for a gender minority in the white house. so if this is how it's going to be for the next 3 years should I switch away from CNN?
Shoot why are Christie's numbers dropping when we don't know anything yet of who knew what, when, how or motives. Even if he should say that he knew all along he can always say he trusted his employees and was waiting till after his election to take action which who's to say how soon he should have acted when it involves a sophisticated political organization??? I'm not making excuses for Christie but am reluctant to cast stones given the information we have thus far!!!
C stands for corruption, cheating and well, this story is just getting legs, please stand by.........
Say no to the liberal troll
Can't believe liberals would be so stupid as to elect this woman president.
That's pretty much the end game here; Hillary won this round but still has a ton of questions to answer in 2016.
I'm hoping the Democrats find someone a lot better than her.
Stand by because the games have started and Hillary has a lot to hide.
Good job main stream media! You have managed to manipulate the polls once again. Where were you on Hillary and Benghazi, oh yes, you were asleep on that one. And how about Hillary's past problems with White Water and Travelgate, oh, that's old news, so just forget that. Did you see the stock market today, you keep getting these idiots elected and there will be no one with any money to pay for your news!
as theoretical choice(s) go ...at this stage of the game it begs to ask the question, don't we have someone better?
Bridge Gate = End Gate for Christie....
I wouldn't be so sure. Maybe Christie won't be the Rep. forerunner, but I don't think that means Hillary has a better chance. It actually gives the Rep. a chance to put up someone really good. I didn't think Christie was good to begin with. You should see the cartoons on the foreign press in regard to Benghazi..... they're really good and to the point.... you'd never see them here.
ummm.... and why are we presuming Christie will be the Republican nominee? He sure as hell doesn't have the support of any of the Republicans I know. Then again – neither do most of the GOP these days.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer would make a great President or VP .
Chris Christie would never be elected President , he's not the best choice on the Menu .
Stick a fork in fat boy our next president will be Milk Huckerbee. Huckerbee and Sanitorium for vike president can beet Hillery any dayz.
If that's all the candidates we have, then we already lost.
i would not vote for either one really out of 300 million americans
THIS IS THE BEST WE CAN DO??? i think im going to be ill
Vote for Clinton only if your'e into losing your 2nd Amendment rights. Christie isn't even a consideration – need a better option, stat.