Chris Christie's stunning turnaround in a key metric helps explain his abrupt reversal of fortune

How The GOP Establishment Stacks Up

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), long an afterthought in the 2016 presidential race, may be having a bit of a moment.

Christie's campaign once looked so quixotic that a super PAC determined to defeat him closed up shop last summer, saying it was no longer necessary. He languished for months at the bottom of the polls and was ignored by his 2016 foes.


But Christie has suddenly turned into a pincushion for his rivals' barbs.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) pointed this week to New Jersey's credit downgrades. And allies of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) launched a multipronged ad attack against him.

Christie — who has not hesitated to trash-talk his rivals, either — attributed the attention to his increasingly solid position in New Hampshire. "We've got a message here in New Hampshire that's resonating with voters," Christie reportedly said Wednesday of his opponents attacks.

See recent photos of Christie on the campaign trail:

Chris Christie on the campaign trail
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Chris Christie's stunning turnaround in a key metric helps explain his abrupt reversal of fortune
Republican Presidential hopeful Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015. (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the Republican Presidential Debate, hosted by CNN, at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO/ ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
THIS WEEK - 10/4/15 - Presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appears on THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, waves while waiting for Pope Francis, not pictured, to arrive for a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Pope Francis, the first pontiff to address U.S. Congress, is preaching to a less-than-harmonious congregation as he faces a Congress riven by disputes over issues closest to his heart: income inequality, immigration and climate change. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0319 -- Pictured: (l-r) Governor Chris Christie during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on August 31, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SQUAWK BOX -- Pictured: Governor Chris Christie in an interview on August 27, 2015 -- (Photo by: David Orrell/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - AUGUST 25: New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie speaks at Chabad House at Rutgers University to express his opposition to President Obama's Iran deal on August 25, 2015 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Christie also encouraged U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to oppose the deal. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 22: Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tosses a pork burger on the grill at the Iowa Pork Producers Tent at the Iowa State Fair on August 22, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates have a long tradition of making campaign stops at the fair. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Christie's argument here has some basis: The governor has been surging for weeks in polls of New Hampshire, the influential first-in-the-nation primary state. Christie is now roughly tied with several others there for second place, behind GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

But looking deeper past the top-line numbers in the polls, Christie has managed an even more striking turnaround: his favorability numbers.

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In a Public Policy Polling survey of Republican voters last August, 46% of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of Christie, compared to 35% who said they had a favorable opinion. That was a 11-point deficit among Republican voters.

But in another PPP New Hampshire poll published this week, 53% of likely GOP voters said they had a favorable opinion of Christie, while just 29% said the opposite. So, according to this survey, at least, Christie now has a net 24-point positive margin. It amounts to a 35-point swing since August.

But PPP was hardly the only poll to find good news for Christie's favorable numbers in recent weeks.

According to Adrian Gray, the president of AGC Research who posted several poll averages on Twitter, Christie's net favorables have also reversed themselves in the early-voting states of Iowa and South Carolina:

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