(Photo: Reuters / Jason Redmond)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday that he will not be running for president in 2012. Christie's decision will likely be to the benefit of current frontrunner Mitt Romney, who leads in a national poll.
“When you have serious people from across the spectrum – not to mention from all across the country – passionately calling on you to do something as consequential as running for president of the United States, I felt an obligation to earnestly consider their advice,” Christie said.
“But in the end, what I've always felt is the right decision remains the right decision today. Now is not my time.”
Christie was reconsidering his previous decision to not run after pressure from prominent Republicans and activists to seek the nomination. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that Christie would have about 10 percent of the Republican vote if he entered the race.
The same poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Romney leading the Republican presidential contenders with 21 percent. With businessman Herman Cain's rise and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's descent, the two candidates are now tied with 14 percent.
The poll asked Christie supporters who they would support if Christie decides not to run. A plurality – 23 percent – said they would support Romney, suggesting that Romney's lead will grow without Christie in the race.
The biggest change in the race is the rapid decline of Perry's poll numbers. In the same poll last month, Perry was the leading candidate in the race with 29 percent of the vote. Since then, Perry has had two poor debate performances and the other candidates have challenged his conservative credentials.
In one example, Perry supported in-state tuition at state universities for the children of undocumented workers. Many Republican primary voters likely disagree with Perry on that position, but in one debate he argued that those who disagreed with him “don't have a heart.” Perry later recanted, saying his remark was “inappropriate.”
Perry's decline has been mostly to the benefit of Cain, rather than Romney. Romney's support has remained steady. Cain, on the other hand, has risen from three percent in the same poll last month to 16 percent this month, if Christie is not an option.
Cain had strong debate performances in September and won the Sept. 24 Florida straw poll with a stunning 37 percent of the vote.
While there has been much talk of dissatisfaction with the current Republican field among media pundits, the Washington Post-ABC News polls show a trend of increasing satisfaction over time.
In April, only 43 percent of Republicans and likely Republican voters said they were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with the current choices of Republican candidates. In this month's poll, 62 percent gave the same response.
South Carolina Republicans recently moved its primary to Jan. 21, in order to jump in front of Florida's Jan. 31 primary. Iowa and New Hampshire will likely move their election dates up as a result, which means the first votes in the 2012 presidential race will be cast in about three months.
The Oct. 2 poll of 1,002 adults included 397 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. The margin of error for Republican voters is +/- 6 percentage points.