Why The Numbers Are Against Chris Christie

Byron York points out just how difficult a run for the White House would be:

On January 8, 2009, Chris Christie, the former United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, formally filed papers to run for governor.  The Republican primary, a three-man contest, was 145 days later, on June 2, 2009.  Christie won the GOP nomination and went on to win the New Jersey governorship on November 3, 2009.

Now Christie is pondering a run for the presidency.  If he decides to go forward, and if he announces his candidacy on, say, next Monday, October 10, then Christie would have 91 days to campaign before the Iowa caucuses.  (That’s assuming the caucuses are held January 9, 2012.  In the chaos following Florida’s decision to move its primary to January 31, Iowa has not yet chosen a date, but it most likely would not be any time after January 9, and it could be a week earlier, January 2, in which case Christie would have 84 days to campaign.)

One hundred and forty-five days to campaign for the Republican nomination for governor of New Jersey, and 91 days to campaign for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.  In those two numbers are the essential unreality of a Christie presidential candidacy.

Here’s another number: On October 10, Christie will have been governor for 629 days. When Barack Obama announced his presidential candidacy on February 10, 2007, he had been a U.S. senator for 768 days.  Yes, Obama — derided by Republicans for his lack of experience — had been a senator longer than Christie has been a governor.  And by February 10, 2007 — nearly 11 months before the Iowa caucuses — Obama had been planning to run for president for quite a while.  It wasn’t a spur of the moment thing.

Yes, a candidate Christie would have 629 days of executive experience — better preparation for the presidency than an accomplishment-free stint in the Senate.  But the fact is that going back generations, only two candidates on Republican national tickets, Sarah Palin and Spiro Agnew, have had as little time in a major office as has Christie.  Of course, both were on the bottom half of the ticket, and neither worked out well.

The biggest number, though, is that 91 days. As York points out, that’s 91 days to the beginning of a marathon that would quickly move on to New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida. And that’s just January. This would mean having a campaign operation ready to go on Day One in nearly every state in the country. It would also mean that there would be absolutely no room for error on Christie’s part. A candidate who declared in the spring of 2011 has the luxury of being able to have a chance to recover from mistakes made early in the campaign, just ask Mitt Romney and Herman Cain. Or, to stretch back to the 2008 cycle, just ask John McCain. A campaign that starts just three months before the voting starts won’t have that luxury, though, and it will have to hit the ground running.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s pretty darn close.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.