Chris Christie Drops Out: An Inside Look

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As Christie drops out, the damage he has done to Trump stays. (Image Credit: Bloomberg)

Chris Christie has just dropped out of the republican primary. It is unclear whether he has made any under-the-table deals with other candidates, as he appears to be the only nominee running on an anti-trump platform. However, his efforts to undermine Trump will be felt on the Republican Party.

The first republican primary, the Iowa Caucus, will commence in a couple of days. While Trump is still firmly in the lead in most polls at 61.3%, 4 hopeful republicans had stepped onto a stage in December 2023 to win the support of GOP voters during the fourth primary debate. The candidates were the following: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Billionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

While DeSantis, Haley, and Ramaswamy bickered about which candidates had received money from Chinese companies and who had the most foreign policy experience, Christie was like a needle in a haystack. Instead of insulting the intellect of the other candidates, he defended Haley against Ramaswamy’s accusations of being oblivious to the regions of Ukraine. When asked if they would support Trump if he were to be found guilty, Christie was the only republican candidate who did not raise their hand.

Because of this, however, many republicans have begun to develop a negative perception of Christie. On January the 9th of 2024, 57.1% of republicans reported having an unfavorable opinion of Christie, while only 22% of them had a favorable opinion of him. While in the race, Christie was tailing in almost every poll; he was projected to obtain less than 4% of the republican vote. It became increasingly clear that spearheading the republican movement against Trump wasn’t a popular decision among voters.

Christie could, however, deal a major blow to the Republican Party’s effort to take power. Currently, Christie’s voter base lies in people who do not support Trump; Chris Christie received 16% support in the slice of the GOP electorate that reported viewing Trump as very unfavorably. His campaign, attempting to target Trump by comparing him to a “dictator”, a “bully”, and a Nazi general have caused many voters to lose faith in Trump. Although he has dropped out, he has irreparably increased division within the Republican Party and decreased the number of people confiding in Trump.

This separation between Trump republicans and non-Trump republicans will harm the right-wingers in the election. In the Democratic Party, most democrats who are hopeful to win the position of presidency have instead chosen to endorse and even boost Biden’s campaign, even if they disagree with many of Biden’s policies. Many democrats have chosen to run for president in 2028 instead of challenging Biden this year. When Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, debated with Ron DeSantis, he was not trying to lay the groundwork for his 2028 candidacy; instead, when asked about his intentions behind the debate, he replied that “I was trying to make the case for Joe Biden.” Democrats have united together to stop Donald Trump. They know of the damage that infighting in their party could cause to their election effort.

The Republican Party has been headed the opposite direction. In an election where the democrats are betting on unity to beat the republicans, having a candidate who campaigned on getting rid of Trump can split up the republican party and make them lose. Christie’s rhetoric has increased the number of republicans who are against Trump. Many right-wingers who were persuaded by Christie to be against Trump may choose not to vote in the 2024 election. Instead, they may even vote Joe Biden to protest Trump; Christie’s support is at 22% among republicans who voted Biden in 2020.

Christie’s dropout creates 2 scenarios for the Republican Party. The first is that Nikki Haley wins in New Hampshire. Haley has been putting a lot of effort into winning over New Hampshire voters; days before he dropped out, Haley saw a surge in her polling numbers that put her less than 15 percentage points away from Trump. Christie, polling at 12% in New Hampshire before his dropout, could endorse Haley, giving her the necessary support she needs to win in New Hampshire. Even without any endorsements, supporters of Christie will likely flock to Nikki Haley anyways. A CNN poll shows that 65 percent of Christie’s supporters would back Haley if Christie was not in the race. His supporters, having been conditioned against Trump and desiring a candidate who doesn’t have a history of crime and chaos, would back Nikki Haley and make her win of New Hampshire ever more feasible. A winning of New Hampshire could cause a ripple effect among states that vote after it, and possibly lead to Haley winning the primary. If Haley wins the primaries, her chances of winning the general election are slim at best; 52% of Trump supporters say that they will only consider voting for Donald Trump. As Trump commands most of the support of the Republican Party, her inability to win over Trump supporters may lead to a shortfall in her election prospects.

The second scenario is that Trump still wins the primary but struggles on gaining enough votes in the general election. Christie’s supporters would almost definitely refuse to vote for Trump in the 2024 election. Instead, they would likely either vote Biden or to protest Trump by not casting a ballot. In a general election, every vote matters. Trump’s loss of backers, many of whom were convinced to denounce him by Christie, may force him to lose the election against Biden.

Ultimately, although Chris Christie has dropped out of the republican primary, his impact will be felt throughout 2024 in one of the most important elections in American history. The decisions that he and his supporters make within the following weeks about who he endorses and who his sympathizers vote for may determine the future of the presidency for the next 4 years. However, it seems that Christie’s efforts to campaign against Trump have helped to diminish his votes, aiding Biden in his pursuit of a second term.

Written by Pacey Qi

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