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“Christie’s blunt talk about public employees and his aggressive actions on the New Jersey state budget have made him very popular both within the Republican Party and with independents. His style and appearance would present quite the contrast to that of the president,” said pollster John Zogby.

“He adds not only an alternative governing philosophy, but also real efforts at cutting spending. If he decided to run, Christie could quickly oust Romney as the favorite of establishment Republicans,” Mr. Zogby adds.

JUST SO YOU KNOW

Yes, we still give our pets regular old human names, with Bella, Max, Lucy and Charlie leading in the canine, feline, and even the gerbil/bird/lizard categories — this according to the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., which based its conclusion on its database of 485,000 pet names. But wait. The database also contains more original entries that attest to American inventiveness. They include: Purr Diem, Cleocatra, Optimus Pants and Chairman Meow among kitties, and Dog Vader, Iggy Pup, Virginia Woof and Geez Louise among the dogs. See them all here: www.wackypetnames.com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 58 percent of Americans overall say 2011 “will be better” than 2010.
• 71 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Republicans agree.
• 69 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 years, 58 percent of those 35 to 54 and 51 percent of those over 55 also agree.
• 42 percent of Americans overall say the nation will be “governed” better in 2011 than in 2010.
• 45 percent of Democrats agree, as do 48 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents.
• 38 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 years, 44 percent of those 35 to 54 and 42 percent of those over 55 also agree.
Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,019 adults conducted Dec. 10-12.

Pet peeves, squawks, inventiveness to jharper@washingtontimes.com.