New Jersey currently has a “popular” Republican governor in Chris Christie, who was elected in the first Republican wave of November 2009. The last time New Jersey Republican governor was Christie Todd Whitman, who served from 1994 – 2001. (Wondering if New Jersey Republican governors need a Christie in their name?) Even with an occasional Republican governor, the state has not turned presidential red since 1988. Obama won it 56% over McCain’s 42% in 2008.
For the 2012 election New Jersey has lost an electoral vote, going from 15 to 14, which is a little bit of good news for the next GOP presidential candidate, but going “governor red” in 2009 does not necessarily translate into presidential red in 2012. Especially now, since Governor Christie’s approval rating in New Jersey is on the decline. Whether Christie is popular or not, New Jersey is a very unlikely battle ground state for the GOP in 2012.
So what do these five states tell us?
The answer is Republicans must nominate a presidential candidate who can appeal to moderates and Independents, but given the current conservative climate in the Republican Party and Tea Party movement, that may not be possible. For there are too many kamikaze Republicans at the primary level who would rather nominate a doctrinaire conservative and lose in 2012 than a conservative who can win a state like Pennsylvania and a “must win” state like Florida.
Please, heed my warnings and do not shoot the messenger. But if you do, I will be clinging to my guns and religion.