Christie, after his recent re-election, is the choice of 24 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP, a CNN/ORC survey said.
The figure is up seven percentage points from a CNN survey taken in September, when Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin were virtually tied, with Christie at 17 percent and Ryan at 16 percent.
Behind Christie in Friday's poll is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 13 percent, Ryan at 11 percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 10 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also received support in the poll.
Sixty-three percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents chose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as their nominee for 2016, with Vice President Joe Biden a distant second at 12 percent.
The poll of 843 adults, including 418 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, and 374 Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, was conducted Nov. 18-20 by ORC International for CNN, and has a margin or error of 3.5 percentage points.