fdu_public_mind_pollMADISON, NJ - Visits to or from Iowa notwithstanding, New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie does not stack up as well against President Barack Obama now as he did just a few months ago. In a head-to-head match-up against Obama, Christie trails 34%-50%, a backslide from 40%-46% measured in March, according to a new national poll of registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™.

The president’s approval rating is slightly positive, 47%-45%, an improvement from a negative 44%-48% during his previous trial heat with Chris Christie in March.  Meanwhile, Christie’s approval back home in New Jersey took a turn for the worse, declining to 44%-44% (reported here May 24) from 51%-41% in early April.

“The president has had a better spring than the governor of New Jersey,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “As tough as the governor is, he has no Navy Seals to brighten his day, and he can’t use the helicopter whenever he wants. Instead, New Jersey voters are showing signs of budget-cutting fatigue — and budget reform happens to be the governor’s specialty.”

In fact, the president beats all Republican comers in trial heats, despite that three of five voters (61%) continue to say the country is “on the wrong track,” and just 28% say the nation is headed in the right direction.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney performs the best of a poorly performing lot, trailing the president by six points, 39%-45%.  Romney also attracts four of five Republicans and Republican “leaners,” a better showing than the rest of the field.

“Since Romney is by far the best known in the field, it would mean instant death if polls did not show him outperforming the field,” said Woolley.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who is expected to announce her candidacy soon, trails 19 points behind at 32%-51%. But she is indistinguishable from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (33%-52%), or former Speaker Newt Gingrich (30%-50%).  Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty lags in the pack, losing 29%-56%.

“It’s a good thing they’re getting an early start with the campaigns,” said Woolley. “They need the time.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 826 registered voters nationwide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from June 1, through June 7, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.