Based on the initial post-Sandy reaction to the Christie-Obama bromance imagery, I do not see how Chris Christie has a chance to win the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016 (assuming that President Obama wins tomorrow - otherwise, this whole topic becomes moot). His nonpartisan approach to governance during this crisis will be an even bigger albatross around his neck than Romneycare was for Romney and Christie will not have the luxury of taking on several sgtbatguanocrazy teabagging wingnut opponents, dividing what represented between 60-70% of the Republican primary election voter universe.
He will most likely be in a one-on-one with Paul Ryan who has undoubtedly been a very effective running mate for a terribly flawed Romney candidacy. Winning a primary election in a one-on-one with a significantly more conservative candidate would have been hard enough pre-Sandy, but post-Sandy, there is just not enough SuperPAC dollars to change the mathematics of the Republican Party in the 21st Century, which probably has more in common with the Democratic Party of the 19th Century.
That said, there are other ways that Christie could become a Presidential candidate in 2016 whether he runs for re-election next year or not, although the path is clearer for him if he doesn't. If he and the people closest to him recognize the fact that he cannot win a Republican primary election in 2016, he could take advantage of the goodwill that he built up during and since the storm came and went by aligning himself with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the No Labels crowd, who tried and failed to build energy around the idea of a bipartisan ticket through their Americans Elect effort this year.
If the next four years are anything like the last four years and there is no reason to think that they won't be, the country will be even more polarized in 2015 than it is now. If it is, it would hopefully produce a very liberal Democratic nominee like Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and a very conservative Republican nominee like Ryan, providing enough room for a somewhat more mellow, moderated, and reformed Christie (if such a thing is possible) to become the face a new centrist 3rd party backed by Bloomberg's money and supported by whatever moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats they can steal away. Team Christie up with a conservative Democratic woman like Jane Harman and you would have a ticket that could be a force to be reckoned with.
Or if Christie really wanted to throw the political world a curve, he could talk to his good friend, George Norcross about allowing him to run for re-election as a Democrat next year with Steve Sweeney as his LG with the promise that he would resign late enough in his second term to run for President that Sweeney could still serve two more terms of his own as Governor after completing the remainder of Christie's next term. While it is unlikely that Christie could win the Democratic nomination in 2016, if he ran on the Americans Elect ticket, he could tap someone like Chuck Hagel or Richard Lugar to be his running mate.
While I do not think that either of these scenarios are very likely, I do think that they are more likely than Christie winning the Republican nomination in 2016. The most likely scenario is that he runs for re-election, beats a sacrificial lamb opponent like Chris Bollwage or John Wisniewski, runs for President in 2016 and loses to a far more conservative Republican (most likely Ryan) in the primary election. If he governs in a second term the way that he governed over the last week, he could find himself appointed Attorney General by a Democratic President in 2017, but I think that it is more likely that a Christie second term will be just as much like Christie's first term as an Obama second term will be like Obama's first term.