A new poll finds Donald Trump is still the strong favorite among New Jersey Republicans as a potential Presidential candidate, but the former president’s legal woes are helping potential challengers.

The poll was taken before a New York civil-case jury found the twice-impeached former president liable for the sexual abuse of a magazine columnist in the 1990s.

According to Dan Cassino, the executive director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, the just-released survey finds 78% of Republicans believe the criminal charges pending against Trump are not legitimate.

He said the poll finds 40% of Jersey Republicans say they will definitely support the former president in a potential 2024 primary, while 31% say they are likely to do so, but the amount of support for other possible presidential candidates varies depending on whether Trump's legal problems are mentioned upfront.

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He said half of those questioned in the poll were asked about the criminal charges against Trump before they were asked who they might support in the presidential primary, and the other half of respondents were asked about Trump’s legal issues after they were questioned about who they might support in the primary.

“When we ask about the indictments beforehand, support for Trump doesn’t change, but support for a potential challenger, in this case, former Gov. Christie, goes up substantially,” he said.

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Cassino said 25% of Republicans questioned said they would consider supporting Chris Christie as a presidential candidate but that number went from 21 to 29% after being asked about Trump's indictments.

Christie not Trump's strongest GOP challenger

He said Chris Christie is certainly not considered Donald Trump’s strongest challenger for the Republican nomination right now “but the fact that there is that difference, that even former governor Christie’s numbers go up by 8 points when we ask about the indictments, tell us there is a lane there for Republicans.”

The poll finds 90% of New Jersey Democrats, and 49% of independents believe the criminal charges against Trump are legitimate.

Christie ran in the 2016 Republican presidential primary and after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary, he dropped out and threw his support behind Trump. In recent years, however, Christie has become a vocal opponent of Trump.

The survey was conducted between April 28 and May 6, using a certified list of adult New Jersey residents carried out by Braun Research of Princeton, New Jersey. In total 817 respondents took part in the poll.

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