Increased national interest in New Jersey’s Chris Christie

 N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday the appointment of Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to temporarily fill the Senate seat left vacant by Frank Lautenberg. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday the appointment of Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to temporarily fill the Senate seat left vacant by Frank Lautenberg. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is much in the news this week — first with his decision to call a special election to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat, and then tapping Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to serve in that capacity until the Oct. 16 ballot. Above and beyond reaction in the Garden State, we gauge public sentiment with Frank Newport, editor in chief of Gallop.

New data at the national level show Christie’s name identification has risen by 23 percentage points since 2011, and his favorabilty rating has gone up as well. Most importantly, Christie has almost as high a level of favorability among Democrats as Republicans — boding well for a prospective 2016 presidential bid, at least at this point.

Hillary Clinton is holding to a much more favorable image than Vice President Joe Biden, although Clinton’s favorables are down marginally since she retired as secretary of state.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting with President Barack Obama on Friday and Saturday. Do Americans consider China to be an ally, friend or foe? The public views them as more friendly than unfriendly. 

But never mind overseas concerns. Despite improved consumer confidence, the economy remains the most important problem facing the country today.

Finally, we look at a paradox: A record number of Americans now say that religion is losing its influence in American society — but 75 percent of Americans say the country would be better off if more Americans were religious.

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