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Christie Wins Easily in New Jersey

Christie Wins Easily in New Jersey

By Scott Conroy - November 6, 2013

As expected, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won re-election Tuesday in convincing fashion over Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Christie was ahead by a margin of 60.5 percent to 38.0 percent.

The resounding victory provides Christie with a broad mandate for his second-term agenda in the deep-blue state. And perhaps more importantly, it delivers the charismatic Republican a ready-made talking point ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign: that he is a leader who has proven ability to win convincingly in a place where the GOP has struggled mightily.

A year after the warm, pre-election greeting he gave President Obama -- in the wake of Super Storm Sandy’s devastation of the Garden State -- earned him the ire of many on the right, Christie still has much work to do in convincing conservative grassroots activists that he would be an acceptable Republican presidential nominee.

But for the time being, at least, Christie is in the race’s pole position for a wide swath of the power brokers, financiers, and big-state voters who make up the Republican establishment -- and who have ultimately determined the outcomes of the last two nomination contests.

Often ticking off the first names of local officials and kissing both old friends and casual acquaintances while on the stump, Christie showed off a zest and skill for retail politicking that figures to serve him well in the early primary and caucus states of a presidential run.

Throughout the race, Buono attempted to make an issue of Christie’s thinly veiled White House ambitions, but the issue never resonated with the majority of New Jersey voters, who responded favorably to Christie’s frank leadership style and determination to build bridges with Democrats and independents, even as they disagreed with him on a host of key issues.

Christie made it a point to campaign heavily in staunchly Democratic areas of the state and engaged in a particularly strong outreach effort with minorities in urban areas.

According to early exit poll results, he was tied with Buono among Latinos (48 percent to 48 percent) and earned 20 percent of the African-American vote -- strong numbers for a Republican.

The outcome of this race was never really in doubt, as Christie led by at least 18 points in every poll included in the RealClearPolitics average this year.

Nonetheless, the ease with which the Republican governor won in a state where President Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 17 points last year comes as a notable achievement amid the national Republican Party’s continuing struggle to expand its reach. 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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