Chris Christie routed his Democratic opponent by more than 22 points on election night two weeks ago. In a state with a Democratic net 7 point advantage, Christie outperformed the generic party divide by a colossal 29 points. As a result of Christie’s electoral domination, a growing chorus within the media and GOP Establishment expresses confidence that Christie could lead the Republican Party to national victory as its presidential nominee. Once the euphoria fades, a review of precedent suggests otherwise.
Any fanciful hopes of GOP predominance with Christie at the helm must be tempered by the lessons learned from Romney’s 2002 win in Massachusetts and Schwarzenegger’s dual victories in California. Although both moderate Republicans racked up outsized wins, both failed to breathe life into their state party organizations. And neither Romney nor Schwarzenegger succeeded in making lasting significant reforms in state fiscal matters.
Like Romney and Schwarzenegger, Chris Christie’s electoral landslide failed to translate into gains at the statehouse. Uncertified election results show that despite Christie’s landslide personal victory, the Republicans failed to gain even a single state senate seat—stuck at 16 out 40 seats yet again. In the state assembly, Republicans managed to gain just two seats and remain woefully outnumbered 46 to 34.
The inability of Governor Christie to expand his appeal beyond himself is disappointing. Like Romney and Schwarzenegger, Christie’s broader agenda will likely be stifled. Reform-minded activists desire policy changes rather than simply a figure-head sharing Republican Party identification. The similarities between the results in California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey will likely generate increased skepticism towards a Christie presidential candidacy. Like Romney and Schwarzenegger, Governor Chris Christie has no coattails.
I previously did further analysis of this at RedAlertPolitics.com