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.
Sheesh, the next presidential campaign is can to be more brutal than ever. . . on us. Nobody is officially running and we already are getting slammed with polls out the wazoo.
CNN has been working overtime for Hillary – more proof of how the media lays the ground work for presidential candidates – for better or worse (depending on whom is being lauded at any point in time). The conventions are little more that infomercials. P.S. Ask Howard Dean (2004 Democratic candidate) how his famous "Dean scream" ("looped" and made louder) shown again and again on news and comedy shows, finished him as a contender. He was too much of an outsider for the powers behind the curtain.
To Dave: Some of what you say is true, but if these two were fully vetted, and essentially Clinton was as the GOP really wanted to block her from becoming SOS, but we can add Benghazi to her resume, you are right Clinton would no longer lead Christie by 16 or more points. It would be more like 26 or more points. I'm not a monster Clinton fan, but Christie is absolutely terrible. We need only look at his actual record in the governor's mansion to know that. He has a great public persona, and it's carried him well in the last 5 years. It's overshadowed his record, but that appears to be at an end.
"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." Agreed. Clinton has had a long time and superb role model in mastering the art of deceit and manipulative political maneuvering. She is scrupulously cautious about damage control but totally without substance in the leadership department. Does anyone else with talent and integrity even want the job? .
well he would have been a fun opponent for Hillary to run against ...oh well...more power to the girls....Hillary should pick up Davis from Texas as her Veep but I think Texas needs her more as Gov....Cheers, Maggie
Mark this down-hillary will beat the crooked christie easily in 2016! with bill and carville running the deal, raising millions and knowing all the tricks, hillary wins in a landslide!!! christie will be stuck on a bridge!
The Democrats will win at this rate if Christie goes against Clinton because Clinton leads Christie yet he is still the most formidable opponent to Clinton that the Republican Party has to offer
CNN is giddy that some of the dirt they shoveled did stick.
Is it too late for Colin Powell to throw his hat in the ring?
It is still way too early in the game to tell who going to be running. Except for the broncos!
This President is dividing us so profoundly, I doubt there will even BE a United States in 10 years. And it all started with this guy. Careful what you wish for.
The sheeple have spoken once again. Is Christie an idiot- hell yea. But his traffic jam nonsense pales in comparison to Hillary's lack of leadership and complicity in the Benghazi embassy attack that killed US citizens. With sheeple like this it's just hopeless.
The Republicans have no credible candidate. It pleases me.
Christie is not a good candidate anyway. Hopefully a Republican will stand up
hillary is a big time loser for the Democrats. there biggest problem is that she seems determined to run.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership even though it'll cost more American jobs than NAFTA. Let's pretend Benghazi or the IRS or Bridgegate is what's important.
Hillary Clinton as president? Are you kidding me? What has this woman EVER done in her life to deserve the MOST important job in the world? This is nothing more than a popularity contest – she is certainly not a leader. Can you imagine her dealing with Putin? Or special interests? She will roll over like a bowling ball on a hill. SHE IS NOT A LEADER – are we going to elect her just so we can again show how POLITICALLY CORRECT we are – while the country goes downhill.
This is silly talking about polls between two people, neither who have announced they are running...
However, look at how it drew out thr RWNJ's and Hillary haters... hilarious. " Why I wouldn't vote for...", "Benghazi..", "dirty tricks...", wah wah wah....
DAVE- you're the worst.
And Joe... "Who would vote for Hilary? Id like to meet them, apparently they exist! Maybe its because I dont surround myself with Hilary types"
They are called Women and I'm sure you would like to meet some. Yes indeedy they do exist and they are soft and warm and smell good. I myself am very fond of them... and I don't think you will need to worry too much about being surrounded by many of them any time in the near future.
You have told us more than we need to know about you and framed the major problem of your party in your short little mindless post. Thanks.
Don't want to be a fat man,
People would think that I was
Just good fun.
Would rather be a thin man,
I am so glad to go on being one.
Too much to carry around with you,
No chance of finding a woman who
Will love you in the morning and all the night time too.
Don't want to be a fat man,
Have not the patience to ignore all that.
Hate to admit to myself half of my problems
Came from being fat.
Won't waste my time feeling sorry for him,
I seen the other side to being thin.
Roll us both down a mountain
And I'm sure the fat man would win.
There is no one from the democratic or republican parties that I would vote for. I think they are all liars and are either too far left or too far right. I would love to see a strong independent. They usually have a little both and make more sense! Hillary Clinton....really? I think not!
I would look closely at those that accuse. I suspect he is being set up for the fall by various people who for one reason or another want to see him brought down before the election Well we have almost two years, I hope there is a boomerang effect with this and voters get angry that this nasty political game is being played and he will rise back to the top.
Keep in mind that this man viewed the devastation side by side with Obama with the desire to get help from the federal government despite the outrage of some in his party. Would a leader such as this stoop to the petty retaliation he is accused of? Personally I do not believe so.
Huckabee doesn't believs in evolution and probably thinks that the world is flat. Hillary will easily win!
What difference does it make? Lets nominate Chelsea Clinton for Ambassador to Libya!!! I bet it would of made a difference then. The Lying Moon Prune will continue dividing Americans, destroying our freedoms and being a good little Prog on the path of denial....
MSLED and CNN will lead their peeps over the cliff with Obama at the bottom with a bayonette to finish them off willingly, sick...
2006 Hillary was 60 percent 0bama 15 percent who is the president now OBAMA
Christie is a criminal waiting to be convi cted.