New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) holds a commanding lead over three potential rivals for governor, with his approval rating still close to its post-Sandy record, a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll found.
Christie's job approval rating is at 73 percent, with the massive boost for his handling of the hurricane in October showing few signs of fading. Majorities of Democrats and members of union households, both among Christie's traditional opponents, supported the governor.
“It’s hard to find such a well-liked political figure in this politically rancorous day and age," said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson.
That poses a challenge for Christie's potential 2013 opponents, and has led to frustration for state Democratic officials, who want to lock down a candidate as soon as possible.
State Sen. Barbara Buono, the only Democrat to formally announce, trailed Christie in a hypothetical matchup, even before the storm. Since Sandy, the margin has grown to more than 40 percentage points in HuffPost Pollster's average.
In the Fairleigh Dickinson poll, Buono has name recognition with less than a third of the public, and trails Christie, 64 percent to 21 percent.
Two other possible candidates, State Senate President Steve Sweeney and State Sen. Richard Codey, were better known, but fared similarly poorly against Christie in the poll. Sweeney, who caused controversy this week when he said Christie "got lucky" with the hurricane, pulled in 19 percent to Christie's 65 percent. Codey, who said this week he's still deciding whether to run, did slightly better, taking 26 percent to Christie's 59 percent.
The Fairleigh Dickinson poll surveyed 700 registered New Jersey voters by phone from Jan. 2 to Jan. 6, with a 3.7 percent margin of error.