Why Are Black Voters Embracing Chris Christie?

Call it "the Obama effect." Many cite his backing of the president in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. 

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Barack Obama at the Jersey Shore after Sandy (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In an unlikely -- but then again not so unlikely -- development, black voters have begun to embrace New Jersey’s pugnacious Republican Gov. Chris Christie, according to Real Clear Politics.

It's an unlikely scenario because he didn't win widespread support among African Americans during his 2009 campaign. It's not so unlikely because black voters started to warm toward him after he showed tremendous support for President Barack Obama in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the Jersey Shore last year. Christie did so in the face of tremendous backlash from conservatives, a decision that is apparently paying off for him.

A Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday shows that Christie leads Democratic contender Barbara Buono by a jaw-dropping margin of 64 percent to 30 percent.

Even more stunning, while just 9 percent of African-American voters cast their ballots for the Republican in 2009, he currently earns 36 percent of the black vote, according to the new poll.

Though the sample size of black voters polled by Quinnipiac was small, Christie has polled at or above 30 percent among African-Americans in several other recent surveys.

To put that standing in recent historical perspective, no Republican presidential, Senate, or gubernatorial candidate in the state Jersey has topped 17 percent of the African-American vote in more than two decades.

Christie's support of President Obama is not his only allure for black voters. Dwayne Warren, Democratic mayor of Orange, N.J., accompanied Christie during a recent visit to Main Street. He applauded the governor for working with him on several key local issues, including revitalizing the train station and restoring state funding for a summer food program.

"I made no bones about it," Warren recalled of his initial conversation with Christie after being elected last year. "I called him directly and said, ‘We need your help with some support for projects in Orange.’ And he was responsive to doing it."

But the response to Christie’s arrival in Orange wasn’t universally positive. Dozens of protesters from the Communications Workers of America union and volunteers for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono carried signs reading "Christie, Get Out of Orange" and shadowed the governor with chants of "Christie’s got to go!"

Real Clear Politics argues that if Christie can break the 30 percent threshold among African-American voters in November, "it will give him a powerful 2016 talking point with Republicans voters from New Hampshire to Nevada, who will be eager to nominate someone with a wide enough appeal to regain the White House after the GOP's years in the political wilderness."