Christie must be in top three of GOP field in NH, experts say, to continue viable campaign

 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tours a Fidelity Investments facility last month in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Experts say he'll have to finish among the top three Republicans in polling there next week to remain a viable presidential candidate. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tours a Fidelity Investments facility last month in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Experts say he'll have to finish among the top three Republicans in polling there next week to remain a viable presidential candidate. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Following the New Jersey governor’s 10th place showing in the Iowa caucuses, political analysts say next week’s primary in New Hampshire is critical for Chris Christie’s presidential campaign.

Fairleigh Dickinson political scientist Peter Woolley said Christie will need a strong outcome in the Granite State to continue his presidential quest.

“If he really can’t show any signs of life in New Hampshire, people are not going to be willing to contribute further to his campaign,” Woolley said. “They’re going to cast about for another candidate who might fare much better than Christie.”

Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale put it bluntly. Christie’s presidential chances are over, Hale said, if he doesn’t come in at least third next week.

“I think that he really has to show that he’s a viable alternative to Marco Rubio, and the only way he’s going to do that is beat him in New Hampshire.” he said.

Christie has said that he is optimistic about his chances in New Hampshire where he has spent a lot of campaigning in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 9 primary.

Should that optimism prove unfounded, convincing the governor to throw in the towel and return to New Jersey, Montclair State political science professor Brigid Harrison said she  is unsure about  productive Christie would be.

“I think that the governor will be angry,” she said. “And, given the state of the state, the challenges that face him particularly now that his head hasn’t been in the game of New Jersey for quite some time, I think it might be a bit of a rude awakening.”

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray echoed that concern.

“Democrats in the legislature right now are looking at their future, particularly Steve Sweeney who is looking to run for governor and needs to distance himself from Gov. Christie,” Murray said. “It’s not clear what kind of reception he’s going to get when he comes to New Jersey, but one thing we do know, he’s not going to be happy when he does.”

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