Despite the Bridgegate debacle that linked directly to senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, and recent poll numbers that show his approval ratings are still down in the dumps, a shot at becoming the Republican frontrunner for president isn’t out of the question.

Kena Betancur, Getty Images

In fact, Christie still has a solid chance of winning the overall race in November 2016, according to Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.

“You have a situation here where nothing has been tied to the governor,” Dworkin said. “There’s a lot of innuendo, there’s a lot of suspicion, but the fact is, we don’t know the answers to the two most fundamental questions involving Bridgegate – why was it done and who was involved?”

Federal and legislative investigations are attempting to find those answers.

The most recent poll of New Jersey voters from FDU PublicMind gathered a 41 percent approval rating for Christie, down seven points from January and down 20 points from November. Dworkin said ratings in the 40s, though, are still “pretty good for any politician these days.” It had been assumed that Christie’s numbers were inflated last year by his performance post-Sandy.

“Two years from now, when we’re in the middle of the primary season for the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election, I’m not sure how much of an impact this will be,” Dworkin added. “The issue is simply not going to be at the forefront of your average Republican primary- or caucus-goer in 2016.”

What Christie may need to worry about it, if he chooses to run, is the new attack angle his administration gift-wrapped for the Democrats to use.

“He’s now going to be accused of abuse of power, and if that new image sticks, that is going to be relevant for his presidential chances,” Dworkin said.