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.
same as they have determined our president in 2008 and 2012. this a do over by the media for Hilary
Polling about a 2016 campaign more than two years out is meaningless.
This is not BREAKING NEWS. Stop pushing CNN/ORC poll results out to smart phones as BREAKING NEWS. Both Hillary and Christie have very serious health conditions, yet with Christie's recent weight loss, he has less of a chance of dying than Hillary. They are not going to be on the November 2016 ballot! Hillary would be the OLDEST PRESIDENT to be elected to their first term in office if she ran. Leave the past in the past. It's time for some progress and young blood in the pool of candidates for President. Hillary is too old and Christie is too liberal for most Republicans. Get real!
Once again, its 2 years and 9 months until the election. Quit stirring the pot then the broth is more than a little thin.
Don't get too optimistic – the election is still 2 1/2 years away, although I would go with Hillary personally.
I thought she was undecided about running
Yes it is wonderful to see the Democrats falling flat on their faces.
OUT 300 MILLION AMERICANS THIS IS THE BEST WE CAN DO REALLY???
show me someone with Integrity please
and if anyone on the planet says clinton THEN YOUR AN IDIOTIC JOKE look up hillary even way back in watergate scandle same type of person has not changed on BIT and im not to impressed with christie either
just show me a someone good that is worthy of thta postion PLEASE
Gotta love it when 4 dead does not mean as much as a bridge closing. Liberals are so sharp.
This is a joke... Christie was ahead of Hillary and once Christie is cleared he will be on top again. We need someone to tell the truth.... Christie does!
CNN this really is NOT important. What will it take for you to quit devoting weekly time to these polls that really mean nothing? Why not devote more time and energy to what the Congress is or is not doing today? The recently passed Farm Bill would be a good topic of discussion. If we had more information about WHO as well as WHAT is being passed in Congress the electorate would be more informed and maybe, just maybe, they would vote out some of those that are preventing real progress from happening. We need an immigration bill passed, we need the tax code rewritten so that NO individual pays less than a 25% tax rate, which is still a little less than the middle class, we need to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.00 a hour over the next two years, and last but not least we need to start repairing our worn out infrastructure!! CNN please devote more time on these issues than weekly polls. You will be doing us all a great service.
Hillary 2016!!!! Yea Baby
I don't want either of them. They aren't presidential material. Hillary is inept and lies and Christy isn't loyal.
1. Didn't Christie have "the surgery" a while back? And did he get a refund? I don't think it worked.
2. Huckabee, Rand, Cruz, Santorum, Christie...what a clown show. Half of them have already shown us their big red shoes before and gotten laughed off the stage. Some folks just can't get enough.
3. I wonder which "typical" idiot they'll have at the convention talking to a chair next time? Willie Robinson from Duck Dynasty? Pat Robertson spewing nonsense about a God he's never seen? Donald Trump combing his patriotic hair with a comb made in China?
4. All we have to do is throw the images of Christie sucking up to President Obama and that will send the extremists running like roaches scurrying across the floor in the kitchen at a fast food restaurant.
5. In case it didn't sink in the first time: Didn't Christie have "the surgery" a while back? And did he get a refund? I don't think it worked.
6. The one person in that party who actually has some sense has already told them what to do: "stop being the stupid party." But they wouldn't dare elect an "Indian" as their president. Another reason for extremists to abandon them.
7. Re-pukes are screwed!
Here is the thing. The GOP are out of people. If they are using Christie as a hopeful for 2016, that means that they have NOBODY. Clinton will win.. Why? Because we just had a black president, now it is time for a woman president. Many countries did that. South Korea, Brazil, had their first female presidents ever. It is changing among the world, and for United States to be considered the country that offers the most EQUALITY in the world did not elect a woman as president yet while others did, it means that Hilary will be next. If the GOP is smart, they will look for a woman. Not Sarah Palin though. A woman that can actually go against Hilary.
Again CNN and the rest of the liberal left media win one for their Democratic party. I wonder who made the call to bury this guy in unsubstantiated left wing media propaganda, Barack, Hilary or Bill?
Who would want either of these losers as your president?
Oh, please. This doesn't mean anything. The GOP wasn't even in his corner – and they're definitely not in Hilary's. There will be a formidable opponent to the "What difference does it make?" debacle of a candidate.
My God, people. Can we at least get through Christmas 2014 first?
No surprise here, he did not have a snowball's chance in hell, even if they had not caught him imploding from within.
The GOP's numbers BEFOR this were low, now they go lower, yep, no surpise, nothing to see here folk's, turn the page.
Seriously. It's January, 2014. The candidates for 2016 are not even a gleam in our eye at this point. By November of 2016, both Hillary and Christie will have ridden off into the sunset. Or in Christie's case, to jail . . .
Some Americans want a Soprano Mafia Style Governor Christie as President. Christie bragged about his style and bully people who dare question him. It worked great for the Mafia who like Christie had elected officials and the Court in their back pocket. With the attack on Women and as Romney said women are not qualified to do a man's job, it seems Hillary can't win.
"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..."
The Reich Wing GOP faction will try and make an issue of this throughout the 2016 campaign.
What is Secretary Clinton's "serious health" problem, exactly?
CNN, you'd know better than me. . .is it the opinion of the editorial staff that this poll and this subject matter is a priority and therefore of keen interest to your viewers? By posting the story, of course, the answer is clear. Common sense would suggest that this discussion – about 31 months in advance of the Presidential primaries – is destructive and detrimental to the better interests of this country. No?