WASHINGTON — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, R, whose handling of Hurricane Sandy and television appearances has drawn positive media coverage, runs fourth among potential party rivals in the 2016 presidential campaign, a new poll of Republican voters shows.
The survey by Hamden, Conn,-based Quinnipiac University showed a wide-open field as the party works to rehabilitate its image five montt-s after President Obama became the first holder of the office in 56 years to win more than 51 percent of the popular vote twice.
No one attracted 20 percent support from Republican voters. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio got 19 percent, compared with 17 percent for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the party’s vice-presidential nominee last year, and 15 percent for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Christie, favored to win re- election in November, had 14 percent backing and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush received 10 percent.
“Three years before the nominating process, the Republicans have no clear favorite,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.
More broadly, 28 percent of all registered voters in the March 26-April 1 telephone survey had a favorable opinion of the Republican Party and 52 percent viewed it unfavorably. The image of the Democratic Party wasn’t much better, with 38 percent holding a favorable view compared with 44 percent unfavorable.
“The Republican brand is essentially in the toilet these days, but it’s worth remembering the Democrats faced a similar situation in the late 1980s and got their house in order and returned to power in short order,” Brown said.
Republicans in Congress have a weaker image than their party generally, with 19 percent of registered voters approving of them and 71 percent disapproving, compared with 34 percent approving and 59 percent disapproving of Democrats in Congress.
A Republican National Committee report released last month called for dozens of changes in how the party contacts voters and recruits candidates.
The Quinnipiac survey included 1,711 registered voters, including 712 Republicans. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.4 percentage points for registered voters and plus or minus 3.7 percentage points for Republican voters.
The lack of an early Republican front-runner contrasts with a prospective Democratic field led by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 65, who has kept a low profile since leaving the State Department earlier this year.
A former first lady and senator from New York who hasn’t said if she will run for president, Clinton had a 61 percent favorability rating among registered voters in a Jan. 30-Feb. 4 Quinnipiac poll.