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Chris Christie? Who’s he? Most Americans haven’t heard of him or otherwise have no opinion of him

As a reader of political blogs (or at least this one), you’re somewhat aware of who Chris Christie is and of the buzz over his possible entry into the race for the Republican presidential nomination. You probably also have some opinion of the man.

On that score, you’re ahead of most other Americans, as Frank Newport of the Gallup organization explains HERE:

Christie is well known in New Jersey and in Republican political circles. He is not well-known nationally. Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin recently reviewed all extant polling data on Christie. There is not a lot of it. Between 50% and 65% of Americans say they have never heard of Christie or don’t know enough about him to have an opinion. As Charles says: “Christie looks like a lot of governors who, however well known in their home states, are far less visible nationally, or even regionally.”

It’s important to remember that Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry did not have great national name identification, either, earlier this year as they began their campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination.

(Snip)

Perry began with a Positive Intensity Score of 21 when Gallup began tracking him in early July, and it reached as high as 25 in late August early September. Now it has begun slipping — to 22 in the latest Gallup report, and most likely lower still when Gallup next reports the scores next Tuesday on Gallup.com.

Christie has a good chance of following this same arc: An initially high positive intensity, a surge in name recognition, followed by a downturn as he becomes better known, as his fellow Republican opponents begin to criticize him, as Republicans themselves begin to look into his positions (not all of them highly conservative) and as the media begins to scrutinize his record.

Newport goes on to deal with the question of whether Christie’s weight problem would be an issue if he gets into the race:

Our data suggest that most Americans claim one’s weight doesn’t affect their views of a person, but it’s difficult to pinpoint the impact of weight in a more subliminal, subconscious evaluation or reaction to a candidate. Research shows that people make quick judgments based on just looking at the face of a political candidate — judgments that can predict the winner of political races. It’s certainly possible that quick judgments based on a candidate’s weight could also factor into a voting decision.  

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