WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – A recent poll has found that, despite widespread coverage and discussion of a scandal involving N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, most Americans’ opinions of the outspoken Republican have not been changed.
Documents revealed last week that figures in the Christie administration may have intentionally caused major backups near the George Washington Bridge, linking the community of Fort Lee to New York City, to exact political retribution against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse his re-election campaign. Christie fired a top aide and jettisoned his chief political adviser after internal communications confirming their involvement became public.
He adamantly denied any personal “knowledge or involvement” in the lane closures.
As many as 60 percent of Americans have retained the opinion of Christie they held before news of his problems spread. Only 16 percent say they now view him less favorably than they did before, according to the Pew Research Center.
In addition to a very slight shift in national approval ratings of Christie, not many people in the United States were all that interested in news of the issue. Researchers at Pew noted that the public’s attention was centered elsewhere during the scandal’s news cycle.
“The public paid far more attention to last week’s cold snap than to the controversy swirling around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie,” they noted in a release on their findings.
Prominent Republicans had much to say on the matter, however, as they leapt to Christie’s defense on Sunday, insisting that an ongoing traffic scandal wouldn’t ruin any presidential ambitions. Conversely, Democrats say it’s difficult to believe such a hands-on manager knew nothing about a plan by a top aide to close lanes at a bridge into New York City.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle took to the Sunday talk shows to debate the fallout from the traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge in September and any role Christie may have played.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Christie could move past the scandal and still win support from primary voters in the 2016 presidential race.
He said Christie demonstrated leadership by holding a lengthy news conference Thursday to apologize for the scandal, the most serious challenge to his political career, and to disavow any knowledge of its planning.
“America’s a forgiving people, but they’re forgiving when you take ownership, you admit mistakes, you take corrective action, and that’s what Chris Christie showed,” Priebus said.
Christie won re-election by 22 points in a Democrat-leaning state. He is set to be inaugurated for a second term on Jan. 21. The celebration will be on Ellis Island, historically a gateway for immigrants arriving in the United States.
A reported 1,006 people were polled by researchers at Pew on the matter between Jan. 9 and Jan. 12 of this year.
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