MADISON, NJ - Gov. Chris Christie continues to garner the approval of New Jersey voters despite strong feelings to the contrary. According to the most recent statewide poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™, 49% of New Jersey voters approve of the job Christie is doing, while 39% disapprove. Just back from the Republican Governors Conference, his margin of 10 percentage points is a four-point decline from a month ago, though within the poll’s margin of error.
“To the extent that Christie’s national reputation is tied up with national Republican politics, it can hurt him with voters back home,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “He has thus far made his reputation on honest and decisive management, not solid partisanship.”
His 10-point advantage in his approval rating is better than his four-point advantage in favorable over unfavorable opinion: 45% say they have a favorable view of the governor and 41% have an unfavorable view. Moreover, three of four of those who say their opinion of him is unfavorable say their opinion is “very” unfavorable. Similarly, among those who disapprove of his job performance, two of three “strongly” disapprove.
Voters split on the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA): 39% have a favorable opinion, while 38% have an unfavorable opinion. But the poll also finds that a majority of voters in public-employee households (60%) have a favorable view of the NJEA and just a quarter have an unfavorable view (26%). Among all other voters, the NJEA runs behind, 32% favorable and 43% unfavorable.
Similarly, the governor’s approval in public employee households lags by seven points with 40% approving and 47% disapproving. Among all other voters, the governor runs ahead with 53% approving and 36% disapproving.
More than nine of ten voters say they have not heard of (88%) or have no opinion of (5%) the NJEA leader, Barbara Keshishian, who is outspokenly critical of the governor. “The governor has a megaphone. The NJEA has money,” said Woolley. “The fight is far from over.”
Three of five voters (60%) continue to say the state should hold the line on spending even if many programs are reduced, while 22% say the state should raise taxes if necessary to support state programs, a nearly three-to-one advantage. Among those who say cut the budget, Christie’s approval rate is 69%-20%. Among those who say the state needs to raise taxes and continue to support its programs, Christie’s approval runs well-behind, 13%-78%. Among all voters, 45% say he is doing a “good” or “excellent” job.
“Deep cuts in public budgets and a popular governor don’t usually go together,” added Woolley. “New Jersey voters are living in interesting times.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 804 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from Nov. 15, 2010, through Nov. 21, 2010, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.