In the Fox show Gov. Christie held short but colorful debates with Sen. Rand Paul and former Governor Mike Huckabee where he made points and got attention, but so did they in their responses. He appeared awkward at times, not as smooth or in control as at his “Town Halls.” He displayed his trademark anger but that may not help his image as a future president in the minds of moderates, Republican elite leaders, or mega donors.
He is doing poorly in conservative states. In the most recent polls his ranking in Florida is 13th, Georgia 9th, South Carolina 9th, Iowa 14th, and Minnesota 9th. His niche is in the more moderate areas where he has to compete with former Governor Jeb Bush and now Governor John Kasich. Bush in the debates was a wuss but he has raised over $100 million. Kasich who is new in the race did very well as a moderate, will not succeed with most conservatives, but can take votes away from Christie.
Christie’s current strategy is to win or do very well in New Hampshire. In the average of the five most recent polls he is currently ranked 5th behind both Bush and Kasich. It’s “do or die” there as he lacks the big money needed to buy expensive ads in the later primaries. A success here would make him more appealing to the elite Republican leadership and most importantly could attract some mega-million donors. A failure could doom him.
Leadership Matters for America, a PAC formed while Christie was in his exploratory stage, between January and June, raised $3.4 million. For our high-flying governor it paid over $600,000 to Executive Jet Management in Philadelphia, spent $2.7 million in total, and by June 30 had only $656,000 left in cash on hand.
After he formally announced his candidacy America Leads PAC, which cannot have “direct, in-kind, or coordinated communications with federal candidates or committees,” took over. Through June 30 it had raised $11 million and spent $266,000. After July 1 it made large national media purchases of $1.7 million and and placed all its other eggs in one basket: New Hampshire where it has spent $911,000 through early August. In total it has spent about $2.8 million including ancillary costs.
Separate from PAC’s he is now raising money through his campaign committee but with a maximum of only $2,700 per donor. We won’t know until the end of the quarter how much he has raised here.
At this rate he is burning through his money rapidly without gaining entrance to the top tier. His national purchases may have helped him maintain his 9th ranking and allowed him onto the big Fox stage, but he is doing poorly in so many state-wide races. Nor have his investments in New Hampshire succeeded in placing him in a top leadership role there.
So at this point Christie is 9th in a pack of 17, does not appear to have made a significant step forward in the Fox show, is running through his money rapidly, and placing all his hopes on New Hampshire. Not an enviable position. There is a CNN debate in September but a large number of candidates will still be in the race making it difficult for him to leap-frog them.