Arnold Schwarzenegger won re-election handily in 2006, defeating his hapless opponent Phil Angelides by a 56% to 38.9% margin. Yet this sizable win was a meaningless victory for the GOP. Similarly, Chris Christie’s thumping victory on Tuesday night over an equally forgettable candidate contains almost no national meaning, save that Chris Christie is good for Chris Christie. Like Schwarzenegger, Christie cruised to re-election not as a real Republican but as a preening non-partisan moderate. Like Schwarzenegger, Christie’s popularity hasn’t translated into any support for Republicans in his own legislature.
Which raises the question: How could Christie turn blue states red nationwide if he can’t turn his own legislature red?
The breathless burbling about how Chris Christie’s victory “shows the path forward for the GOP” conveniently ignores his inability to turn New Jersey red for anyone but himself. Before election day, the New Jersey media didn’t see any reason for the Dems to worry about a Christie victory, as they enjoy a 48-32 majority in the Assembly and a 24-16 lead in the state Senate. While these numbers may change, early reports indicate most incumbents will be reelected. The New Jersey media reported that most polls indicate support for Christie won’t help any down-ballot Republicans. In 2009, Christie’s coat-tail effect was negligible too, resulting in only one new Assembly seat for the Republicans.