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The Christie Fade

This Quinnipiac poll is the latest to show Republican candidate Chris Christie faltering in his campaign for governor of New Jersey. Christie, who’d risen as high as 47 percent in the poll, is down to 41 percent, one point ahead of Gov. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.). And more ominously, Corzine’s favorable rating has risen to a high of 40 percent while Christie’s has fallen to a low of 38 percent. (Corzine still has higher negatives.) A 30-point Christie lead among independents has become a nine-point lead.

Unless Christie reverses the momentum — totally possible, but not the sort of luck Republicans have had in New Jersey since their last statewide win in 1997 — this sets up a possibly disappointing election day for Republicans in three weeks. The New Jersey gubernatorial election is one of five major elections, the others being a gubernatorial race in Virginia, special elections for Congress in New York and California, and a referendum on gay marriage in Maine.

If Republicans and conservatives sweep those elections, it would bolster their case that the country is ready for new leadership in 2010. If they lose a few of them, especially the New Jersey and New York races, they will have failed to match what they did in 1993, when they took advantage of anger at President Bill Clinton and swept the off-year races. If they lose the New York race, the House Republican Conference will actually end the year smaller than it began the year. But if Democrats win those races, expect to hear many conservatives and Tea Party activists argue that the GOP blew the elections by not nominating more conservative candidates.

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