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.
We've got two plus years until the 2016 election. I would love it if neither ended up running and we had people who haven't even been mentioned yet.
So some lanes get closed down (no indications he was involved) and Sandy relief funds were appropriately used – yet he loses in the polls vs Clinton who dwarfs any of this with Benghazi. Don't get me wrong – that's not to say she was involved with any of the cover up, but the accusations hold just as much ground as any against Christie. This country is so controlled by the media – as such we are going to hell in a hand basket.
Really! Is this the best we got?
Hillary and Christie would both be terrible presidents. Is that our choice? We either get a thug or a liar?
That sob look like one more anything to eat n heart attack !!! Can't make good decisions for his self so how n the hell can he make decisions for anyone else!!! Don't have enough mind to get up from the table!!!! HA
pathetic, pathetic, pathetic, I think CNN is my secret shame – gotta quit coming here to read this drivel – it's like a bad addiction – gotta go cold turkey – no real news here
Got news for you Devon...there hasn't been a single presidents or member of Congress for that matter that hasn't been a big liar. It comes with being a politician.
American's, regrettably, have a short memory and they need that memory refreshed. Shall we open Ms. Clinton's closet of political tricks starting with her Arkansas law firm antics? And lest we not forget "…what difference does it make…", a quote from Ms Clinton responding to the death of 4 American employees, employees she was responsible for as Secretary of State. No, sorry, I'm not buying this "poll". CNN has relentlessly seeded this topic in the minds of readers – a story that STILL does not have ANY proof (proof, hard evidence, see Webster's dictionary for definition) that Christie knew about this or authorized it. Yet CNN has done almost everything, journalistically speaking, to suggest otherwise, often relying on unnamed sources, or sources who are blatantly biased and who also speak in twisted words. Then CNN conducts a poll.
Well, guess what? Most intelligent people aren't buying it. And when the day comes where we are able to fully vet these two candidates – and look deeply into their "closets", I'm betting Ms. Clinton will not be 16+ points ahead of Mr. Christie.
Bring Huckelberry ON!!!!!!!!
Chris Crisco is deep FRIED blubber!!!!!!!!
Apparently the hatchet job was successful.
Well, this is what the liberal media was shooting for when they started running all this stuff. Makes wonder how much is true and how much media hype....
Personally, I'm like many on here, I would rather see them replaced with better choices. BUT, if they are all I have, I'll take Christie over clinton any day.
I don't like either one of them, so I sure hope we have better choices come election time.
I love the whackos on CNN. Obama lies, and throws out the old "nothing to see here folks", and everyone in the demosphere ignores all of the controversy. Christie snarls up traffic and suddenly there are investigations and it's BIG NEWS. I would call you all hypocrites, but I'm sure you don't even know the definition of the word. If you like your hypocrisy, you can keep your hypocrisy.
Who would vote for Hilary? Id like to meet them, apparently they exist! Maybe its because I dont surround myself with Hilary types. Id vote for Christie if he closed every bridge in America over clinton if I was the type to chose one evil over an other
Christie needs to find more support from main stream Republicans. I would not, even if nominated, not my kind of politician. Does that help Hilary, again no. My only wish was she had beat current president, really do not like that direction.
Something is terribly wrong with a political system that can only produce candidates of this level. Of all the intelligent and resourceful people in this country, we have those two goons going to run.
It's 2014, seriously give this nonsense a rest for a while...
These are good times for America – thank you President Obama for helping move America progressively forward.
The Republicans are a party is disarray, and I wouldn't be surprised if Palin-McCain isn't the best they can offer.
Hillary Clinton is one of the most successful foreign policy representative in American history, and will win in a landslide.
Good times, America.
As the media campaigns for Hillary Obama wrecks the economy:)
Benghazi vs. a bridge.... No comparison.... I hate liberal media.... If you people are supporting this non-sense then we are beyond doomed.
Mission accomplished CNN!!!!
2014 just barely begun and were already worried about an election that is like 33 months away. Way to disappoint me with this nonsense.
I find it amausing how these rightwingers all charge Obama with misconduct in office – when they have no proof or give any evidence of it; but when the top aides in the high office of the governor of New Jersey is caught in an abuse of power, they shrug it off and excuse it. This is why I cannot take these rightwingers seriously. Their hypocrisy is OFF THE CHARTS – and they wouldn't know the truth if it was in front of their noses.
By Chris! We want Bachmann! A true God fearing, flag waving, old fashioned American patriot. She knows how to be submissive, uses the rythym method, and can count. C'mon Goofy Old Partiers, nominate Bachmann. The country needs a good laugh.