Conversation quickly turns from Christie win, to Christie presidential bid.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was re-elected by a huge margin Tuesday night, easily defeating his Democratic rival state Sen. Barbara Buono and setting himself up for a presidential bid in 2016.
The Associated Press called the race just seconds after polls closed here in New Jersey at 8 p.m. Although some marveled at how quickly Christie's re-election was confirmed, few were surprised.
"The Associated Press called the race based on interviews with voters as they left polling places," the news organization said. Specific polling numbers were not immediately available. The New York Times had Christie at 62% and Buono at 36% with 18% of polling places reporting results.
Among the supporters gathered inside the massive Asbury Park Convention Hall on the Jersey Shore, the prospect of a Christie presidential bid in 2016 has dominated conversations.
Since Hurricane Sandy struck the Jersey Shore last October, Christie has picked up a significant spotlight on the national stage — even seen embracing President Barack Obama. Throughout the campaign, Buono has struggled to gain name recognition, high-profile endorsements and funding for advertising.
"We'll be led back by our governors, and Chris Christie is now at the forefront of that resurgence," Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, told The New York Times. "He's proved that a conservative Republican can get votes from Hispanics and African-Americans, that a pro-life governor can get votes from women."
According to exit polls from AP, half of New Jersey voters said the state of the economy mattered most in deciding how they would vote. Nearly two-thirds of voters approve Christie's performance on the economy.
Since Christie was sworn in as governor in 2010, he has passed a two percent cap on property taxes, three balanced budgets and public employee health reforms his administration says will save the state more than $100 billion over the next 30 years.
But on the issues of gay marriage and abortion rights, Christie clashes with most residents in New Jersey — an overwhelmingly blue state.