Chris Christie’s blowout win yesterday places him front and center among GOP presidential hopefuls. Much of the discussion among conservatives of his quest for the GOP nomination (assuming he makes that quest) will focus on his alleged electability (a plus) and his alleged moderation (a minus).
But is this a sound way of viewing Christie? I have my doubts.
As to ideology, some Christie bashers will compare him to Rudy Giuliani. Others will compare him to John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Neither comparison will be quite fair. Unlike Giuliani, Christie is a social conservative. He is pro-life and personally opposes gay marriage.
And unlike McCain and Romney, Christie has a solidly conservative vision of governance for which he is prepared to fight. As governor, he has cut state spending and faced down powerful union interests. It is no accident that, until recently, Ann Coulter was a major fan of the New Jersey governor.
McCain, like Christie, is a conviction politician who is always up for a fight. But his convictions are all over the map.
Romney was neither a conviction politician nor a fighter. His term as governor of a Blue State bore little resemblance to Christie’s.
In short, Christie’s alleged moderation arguably is more myth than reality.
But what about his alleged electability? Yesterday, exit polls showed him trailing Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, by 4 points among New Jersey voters.
It would be odd to anoint Christie the GOP frontrunner on grounds of electability until he polls better than this in his home state.