During the second GOP primary debate, Fox News moderator Dana Perino asked the candidates who they would vote off the island in a hypothetical political game of “Survivor.” While Vivek Ramaswamy seemed ready to jot a name down on his whiteboard, none of his rivals wanted to play the game. “I’ll decline to do that, with all due respect,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded. “I think that that’s disrespectful to my fellow competitors.”
But one early-voting state doesn’t share those reservations. In a recent poll, New Hampshire made it clear that former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should extinguish his torch and bid his dramatic, tearful goodbyes to the other players.
Per the USA Today poll, 41% of respondents who watched last week’s debate have voted Chrisie off the island. It’s a stunning blow to Christie, who has centered New Hampshire as the focus of his campaign efforts.
Christie’s lack of popularity in the Live Free or Die state may be because of his vocal opposition to former President Donald Trump’s candidacy. Trump currently holds a 31 percentage point lead in the state, standing ahead of the competition with a 44% approval rating.
Christie was once a close ally of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump but is now a vocal critic of the former president. He has repeatedly stated that he will not support Trump as the Republican nominee in 2024. Christie expressed concerns about Trump’s behavior, which he believes is not in alignment with the Constitution, and his recent comments about General Mark Milley.
When asked if the GOP should unite behind Trump due to his leading position in polls, Christie frequently emphasizes what he believes is Trump’s divisive rhetoric and his rocky relationship with fellow Republicans. “He doesn’t have a good word to say about any of us,” asserts Christie during a recent interview.
Christie, who recently and inexplicably referred to Trump as “Donald Duck” on the debate stage and uses every press interview to insult and criticize the GOP frontrunner, appears to hold himself exempt from “divisive rhetoric.”
It’s well known that Christie is suffering from “sour grapes” after being pushed aside during the Trump administration. Christie has a history of lashing out against what he perceives as personal affronts. A notable instance of this unfolded during his tenure as Governor of New Jersey.
In the “Bridgegate” scandal, Christie’s administration was implicated in the deliberate closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. This act was a political retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who had not endorsed Christie’s gubernatorial re-election campaign. The resulting traffic gridlock in Fort Lee caused significant disruptions and raised concerns about public safety.
It’s only natural that Christie would still be holding a grudge against Trump after he was denied a role in the former president’s administration. Christie was a prominent supporter of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and served as the head of his transition team, but that all changed when he was denied the appointment as Attorney General during the administration. This decision led to a deterioration of the relationship between Trump and Christie, and Christie went on to become the ardent anti-Trump candidate he is now.
For Christie, the poor showing in New Hampshire marks a downward spiral in a political showdown that has no happy ending for the former New Jersey governor.
Winning New Hampshire is historically important to prove a candidate’s viability. First, New Hampshire’s position as the first-in-the-nation primary grants winning candidates valuable momentum and media attention early in the presidential nomination process. A strong showing here shapes the election narrative and demonstrates the candidate’s broad appeal to a diverse electorate.
Additionally, New Hampshire allocates delegates to national party conventions, contributing to the overall delegate count needed to secure a party’s nomination. Ultimately, success in New Hampshire can influence voters in subsequent primary states and create a perception of electability and viability, making it a pivotal battleground for presidential contenders.
If Christie can’t land New Hampshire, he is unlikely to be successful in his presidential bid.
Per the poll, Christie would be the first voted off the island, with former Vice President Mike Pence and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum running neck in neck for the second candidate to be voted out.
In this high-stakes political game of Survivor, some candidates are facing the tribal council with resilience, while others find themselves on the chopping block. For Chris Christie, the tribe has spoken. His journey in this race appears to be at an end.