MADISON, NJ - New Jersey voters are feeling grumpier about their state politics this month. According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, 55% say the state is “on the wrong track,” up from 47% in April. Just 36% say the state is headed in the right direction, a decrease of 8 percentage points from April.
They’re not feeling great about Chris Christie either: 40% have a favorable opinion of him and 45% an unfavorable opinion, a reversal from 47% favorable and 41% unfavorable in April. And a third of voters (32%) say the governor is doing a “poor” job, up five points from April.
Consequently, the governor’s approval rate is also down: Voters split evenly with 44% approving and 44% disapproving, a significant decline from a robust 51%-41% approval rating in April, and the worst the governor has measured in his term.
“May may be good for flowers, but it’s not so good for the governor,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “May is budget tensions in Trenton, budget battles in towns and budget disappointments in school districts.”
A majority (54%) still say the state should cut programs rather than raise taxes, but that number too is down significantly - 10 points from April’s measure of 64%. Just one-quarter (25%) say taxes should be raised, unchanged from April, but those who are unsure, or have a mixed opinion or other ideas of how to deal with the state budget shot up to 22% from 11%.
The swing in mood from April to May is pronounced among female voters, who are significantly more likely than men to say the state is on the wrong track (61% of women compared to 49% of men), that Christie is doing a “poor” job (38% compared to 27%), and to disapprove of the job Christie is doing as governor (53% compared to 36% of men). In fact, men’s and women’s ratings of Christie are mirror opposites: men approve by 52%-36% and women disapprove by 53%-36%.
“There is often a gender gap in voters’ attitudes,” said Woolley, “but this is a dramatic contrast.”
Given a generic choice of which party should control the state assembly and senate after November’s elections, voters swing to Democrats by a margin of 42% to 32%, a 10-point advantage, twice the margin measured in April.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 804 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from May 16 through May 22, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.