The good news for Chris Christie is that his Worst Year Ever is almost over. The bad news: It’s not over yet.
And two new polls out Tuesday serve as a reminder that as bad as things have gotten, there’s still room for him to fall even further. A poll from Quinnipiac University suggests that just 19 percent of New Jerseyans approve of the job Christie (R) has done, while a whopping 77 percent disapprove. And another poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University puts those numbers as 18 percent and 73 percent, respectively. In both cases, four times as many disapprove of Christie as approve.
Those are about as bad as it gets for a politician who isn’t about to be forced out. A look back through recent scandal-ridden statewide politicians shows the only one in worse shape in recent years was former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (D).
Blagojevich’s approval rating got all the way down to 3 percent in late 2008 after his home was raided and he was charged with corruption, according to a poll from Ipsos and McClatchy, with 85 percent overall disapproving and 77 percent disapproving “strongly.” Another poll pegged his approval at 7 percent. The numbers came as there was massive pressure on him to resign; 7 in 10 wanted him to do so, per the latter poll. Eventually, Blagojevich did resign, and he was later sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford’s (R) bizarrely handled sex scandal — think the Appalachian Trail — sunk his approval to 32 percent by the following year, according to an automated SurveyUSA poll. Sanford served out his term and has since recovered to win a special election for the U.S. House, where he still serves.
Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer (D) — whose own political comeback attempt came up short a few years back — resigned quickly before the effects of his 2008 prostitution scandal could be measured by pollsters. But previous polls had already shown his approval rating as low as 21 percent, for other reasons. When Spitzer opted to run for New York City comptroller in 2013, though, he started out pretty popular — at least in the city — with a 53 percent approval rating.
In 2009, then-Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) extramarital affair with a staffer dropped his approval rating to 39 percent in a Las Vegas Review-Journal poll. Ensign stayed in the seat until 2011, when he resigned rather than face an ongoing investigation from the Senate ethics committee.
These are anecdotal, yes. But it’s worth noting just how seriously Christie’s public image has eroded. He’s basically in worse shape than anyone on this list not named Blagojevich. The Q poll shows 71 percent of New Jerseyans say he’s not honest and trustworthy. The FDU poll shows 71 percent thought he should have been a defendant in the Bridgegate trial.
Christie maintains that he will stick it out, but his final year-plus isn’t going to be easy if these numbers are any indication.
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