Even as they were announcing his unpredictable early victory last night, pundits were still being critical of the Christie campaign.
"Terrible, awful, not pretty, etc." is how many continue to described the campaign. Here's my question to the columnists, editorial boards and talking heads who have been so critical of the campaign for months: Compared to what previous campaign?
Doug Forrester's? Bret Schundler's? Christie Whitman's? Tom Kean Sr's first?, Jim McGreevey's first?
Here's a news flash news hounds: The purpose of campaigns is to win, not to give you good material to write about. I know I've not been alone in biting my tongue about this for months, though I have shouted at my computer screen and TV set several times.
You want an expert opinion...consult Joe Cryan, as quoted by Josh Margolin and Claire Heininger:
Christie also surprised Democrats by running a disciplined, organized race instead of reacting recklessly as they thought he would in the face of an advertising onslaught that accused him of being a back-slapping bully who liked handing out public contracts to cronies.
"He stuck to his strategy."
Margolin's and Heininger's piece is brilliant and insightful.
There's something I think that Josh and Claire missed, that I haven't seen anyone else write about, that worked so brilliantly in Christie's campaign.
By sticking to his strategy and refusing the yield to the demands of pundits and pollsters who demanded specifics, Christie caused the Corzine campaign to panic and use their negative research too soon. As Christie cruised through the summer, ignoring demands for specifics, with rising poll numbers, the pressure on Corzine to withdraw was rising. The assault of ads about the loan to a friend/employee, the driving record, deferred prosecution agreements (which was actually used up by the DGA during the primary) would have been more effective for Corzine if they had been released in September and October, instead of in August. By election day voters considered them unfair attacks, even though they were successful in bringing Christie's favorables down. The voters didn't care about the issues Christie was attacked on anymore. A reasonably uninformed Christie voter told me today, "I voted for him even though he didn't pay his taxes."
Christie often said, "this is a different kind of campaign." It was and it worked and it really doesn't matter what the pundits say about it.