Political Experts: Christie Will Continue to Focus on New Hampshire
It is now officially the year the U.S. will elect a new president. With the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary just weeks away, political experts weighed in on Gov. Chris Christie’s strategy in the lead-up. They said Christie's focus will be on the Granite State, which could be a make or break for his presidential campaign.
“I think in the month of January, Gov. Christie should move to New Hampshire 100 percent of the time,” said Matt Hale, a political science professor at Seton Hall University. “I mean he’s pretty close to there right now.”
A Real Clear Politics average of the four most recent polls in New Hampshire had Christie in third place behind frontrunner Donald Trump and second place Marco Rubio. The Garden State governor has spent a lot of time in the Granite State and has been slowly climbing up voter surveys there.
“His strategy of going all-in in New Hampshire has proven to be pretty successful,” said Ben Dworkin, political science professor at Rider University. “It’s been slow going, but weeks before the New Hampshire primary he is doing increasingly better there.”
According to Hale, doing well in Hampshire is not only critical for Christie, it's an absolute must.
“It’s all about New Hampshire. If he comes in second or wins in New Hampshire then he’s got a future in the presidential race. If not, he doesn’t. It’s that simple. He’s got to make that happen, so in January, I would say, 'move to Manchester,’” Hale said.
It is also crucial for Christie to emerge as the top establishment candidate so that he is positioned as the go-to guy should Trump falter, drop dramatically in the polls or even drop out of the race altogether, Dworkin explained. That means there’s a secondary game plan at play for Christie.
“Chris Christie’s strategy as he enters this year is to try and find a way to make himself the clear alternative to Donald Trump and if he ends up in a clump of second tier, anti-Trump candidates along with (Ted) Cruz, Rubio and (Jeb) Bush and none of those people can distinguish themselves, then it’s going to be a very slow slog as we move on through February and March and April,” Dworkin said.
The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 1 and the New Hampshire primary is set for Feb. 9.