New Jersey is a fairly blue state. In the past election, NJ voted to re-elect Obama by a comfortable margin (58.3 % - 40.6%). However, according to all early polls, Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, is expected to win by a landslide against Democratic challenger Barbara Buono. National polls, also, indicate that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have taken a liking to Christie. A PPP poll from yesterday found that Obama voters (42/24) like him better than Romney voters (36/31) do. He gets praise lavished upon him in the media, both by news hosts and talk show hosts. However, the praise rarely addresses his actual record as governor, which offers little to embrace with such open arms. Let's take a look at his record so far.
Chris Christie has repeatedly vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood.
Chris Christie has vetoed marriage equality legislation.
Chris Christie pulled Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Chris Christie killed the Tunnel Project, which would have created two new rail passages between New York and New Jersey, bringing both economic and environmental benefits to the region, and lied about the cost to justify his decision.
He is a strong proponent of voucherizing the school system to siphon away money from public schools and slashing funding for public schools, and he regularly vilifies teacher' unions. He also gets his education ideas from ALEC.
Chris Christie is a strong advocate of corporate welfare, who doles out subsidies even when the companies fail to create the jobs they promised. Of his Urban Transit Hub Tax Program, the New York Times noted,
"Under the program, the Christie administration has granted more than $900 million in state tax credits over 10 years to 15 companies, including Panasonic, Goya, Prudential and Campbell’s Soup. The companies have promised to add 2,364 jobs, or $387,537 in tax credits per job, over the next decade. "What efficiency! As the article further elaborates, NJ has only recovered 20% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession--compared to 80% in its neighbor to the north, New York. New Jersey currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
Even though Jersey can dole out this cash in corporate subsidies, Christie still claims not to have enough money to provide public workers with the pensions and health care benefits they've earned.
We also know that Christie and the Koch brothers are good friends.
Chris Christie is a strong supporter for NJ's deeply corrupt privatized halfway house system, and he's lobbied for the company that runs them.
I vaguely remember a video of Chris Christie yelling at someone going viral among conservatives a few years ago because Christie purportedly battered his opponent with a summary of the Republican ethic of "personal responsibility" in a way that made right-wingers giddy. (He has many videos of himself yelling at people, so this would likely prove difficult to find.)
Despite all that, he remains popular among Democrats. Some probably like him because of his 'bromance' with Obama after Hurricane Sandy or the fact that he criticized Republicans for blocking Sandy relief funds. Working with the federal government on disaster relief should be neither liberal nor conservative: it is simply doing your job as governor. When Chris Christie criticized House Republicans, he made sure to highlight that Jersey gives more to the federal government than it gets back. One wonders how much Governor Chris Christie would have supported federal relief funds from one of the less affluent states.
Maybe his support stems from people's tendency to equate brash and obnoxious with "relatable" although that would be rather depressing.
In some ways, the Democratic fondness of Chris Christie reminds me of the embrace of Jon Huntsman, whose campaign platform was actually very conservative. They both have managed--in large part because of media fawning--to cultivate an image of moderation while largely belying that in practice. Chris Christie and Jon Huntsman may count as "moderates" in a Republican Party that has drifted as far to the right as it had, but that hardly makes them "moderates" overall.