THIS IS the template for what it takes for voters to cross party lines to applaud a politician for doing his job. Gov. Christie showed leadership in the aftermath of nor’easter Sandy, as well as the ability to put doing his job for the people before party loyalty, for which he’s now being rewarded.

New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie did an “excellent” or “good” job responding to Hurricane Sandy, 95 percent of Garden State voters say, as they give the governor a 72 – 21 percent approval rating, the highest score Quinnipiac University ever measured for a New Jersey governor, according to a poll released today. [Quinnipiac University Poll]

Christie has filed paperwork to run again for governor of New Jersey and with approval ratings like this Newark Mayor Cory Booker will have to think very hard about taking him on. A recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll has Booker trailing Christie 34-53, with 13% choosing neither.

After Sandy, the sight of Gov. Christie standing next to President Obama during the final days of the 2012 presidential race, which included Christie praising him, stirred the ire of the far right, as well as Romney supporters.

I seriously doubt this will matter come 2016, which will likely remain a tantalizing target for Christie, as Republicans try to settle on a winner who can cross over in the next general election.

Another win by Gov. Christie, this one on teacher merit-pay, was seen recently on “Morning Joe,” when he was sitting next to American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten after they came to a deal on merit-pay in Newark, New Jersey, which happens to be Booker’s back yard.

The bigger news from the segment might be that Christie, who is up for re-election next year and has made teachers unions a conspicuous punching bag, was appearing alongside American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, to talk about how they reached a merit-payment agreement that covers teachers in Newark.

“We found that boulevard of compromise that exists, between compromising your principles”“which neither of us would ever do”“and getting everything you want, which you’re never going to get. There’s always a boulevard between there, sometimes broad, sometimes narrow. The job of a leader is to find the way out to that boulevard and make progress for the people of your state.”

Ms. Weingarten also praised Christie for his leadership after Sandy (see video below), which has gone a long way to crystallizing his image, much the way 9/11 did for Giuliani.

Christie is seen as a bully by many, but his Trumanesque style and bluntness is just as likely to be refreshing to non-ideological voters sick of today’s hyper-partisanship. The New Jersey governor is the first politician on the right in a long time showing the same cross-over qualities that created Reagan Democrats back in 1980.

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