Here at the Wire, we feel we've covered Chris Christie rather comprehensively, exploring everything from the New Jersey governor's weight to his thoughts on MTV's Jersey Shore and rock star appeal among conservatives. But we missed the connection between Christie and carbonated beverages.
Fortunately, this is what Ezra Klein is for. Over at The Washington Post, Klein explains how, in 1975, Pepsi rolled out its first Pepsi Challenge, a blind taste test in which subjects were given samples of Pepsi and Coca-Cola and asked which they preferred. When Pepsi emerged from the voting victorious, Coca-Cola developed a Pepsi-like product called New Coke, whose flop prompted the company to reintroduce Coca-Cola Classic to the market with great success.
So what does this have to do with Christie? "Behind all this," Klein explains, "was a problem with the Pepsi Challenge. People liked Pepsi more in small increments. They liked Coca-Cola more when they had to drink a can of the stuff. And this, I think, is going to prove a problem for Chris Christie."
Klein first explains how he handicaps the 2012 elections:
If the economy is improving and Obama looks relatively strong, the GOP's field is too weak to make a race out of it. But if he's looking weak, Christie will run, and for Obama, Christie is dangerous. He put parts of the Northeast in play, he's credible as an executive, and politically, he's everything Obama isn't: Hot where Obama is cold, homely where Obama is handsome, plainspoken where Obama is cerebral, confrontational where Obama is conciliatory, obese where Obama is athletic.
But then he mentions Christie's televised confrontations with the press, interest groups, and constituents at town hall meetings, many of which have morphed into YouTube hits. Christie is "hungry for these moments," Klein says:
But for all Christie's celebrity, he's polling at 51 percent in New Jersey. That's lower than I would've anticipated. And I wonder if it's not a Pepsi Challenge effect. His YouTube strategy works in small doses, which is all that the national media and the Republican base see of it. But with too much of this out there, it just looks like bullying ... And eventually the day will come when Christie bullies the wrong questioner, or gets shown up, or starts to face questions about whether it's really decent to repeatedly humiliate constituents and then post the evidence online.
So that's how Chris Christie is like Pepsi.