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Poll: New Jersey likes Chris Christie, splits on whether he's a 'leader' or a 'bully'

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) is winning the political press's attention for his leadership in the Gulf Coast, but Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) has, not so quietly, become probably the biggest gubernatorial hero of the right. YouTube clips (some collected by Christie's own office) that show him lighting into Democrats, teachers' unions, and journalists critical of his style.

"I'm inspired by what Governor Christie said about the teachers unions in New Jersey," economist John Taylor said last night, accepting a Bradley Prize, a stamp of approval for conservative intellectuals. "He called them bullies. 'They punch you, I punch them.'"

The latest Quinnipiac Poll, however, shows that Christie's confrontations, coupled with a steady drumbeat of criticism from unions, have voters split on whether he's doing a good job and whether he's a "bully" -- that is, by and large, they oppose the cuts he's campaigning for. His most popular ideas: a constitutional amendment to limit property tax hikes (a 42-point margin of support) and a limit on salary increases for teachers (a 27-point margin). The rest of his agenda hits a wall, for all the good that's doing Democrats -- they are, down the line, far less popular than he is. (The only popular Democrat statewide is President Obama.)

If you're not keeping tabs on this, here's the latest quasi-viral Christie video, from a town hall meeting where he informs voters that the "day of reckoning" has come. Without being too glib about the comparison, it really is a bizzarro version of an Obama town hall in which the president takes aim at Republicans and corporate America. Patiently, passionately, Christie promises voters he's on their side against the "status quo" of unions who are profiting from their misery.

By David Weigel  |  June 17, 2010; 10:59 AM ET
Categories:  Conservatives  
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