Fewer than half New Jersey voters think Gov. Chris Christie is doing a good job – a double-digit drop in the governor’s approval rating and the lowest in nearly three years, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
A Farleigh-Dickenson PublicMind poll surveyed 734 registered voters by telephone from Jan 20 to Jan. 26 and found that 48 percent said they approved of the job Christie is doing, with 39 percent disapproving, according to the poll.
That approval rating is down 14 percentage points from October, the last time the question was asked. The last time Christie’s approval rating was below 50 percent was May 2011, the poll says.
The number of people who dislike Christie is also on the rise, the poll says. Those who say they dislike the governor and his policies has risen by 9 percentage points, from 18 percent in October to 27 percent, the poll says.
And the number who said they like the governor and his policies has dropped eight points, from 46 percent in October to 38 percent, according to the poll.
“The allegations of malicious politicking in his administration are taking their toll,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “His declining approval comes at an inopportune time. His entrance on the national stage as head of the Republican Governor’s Association, and possible presidential contender for 2016, complicates his introduction to a national electorate.”
Pushing Christie’s numbers down are Democrats and Independents, the poll says, with 34 and 41 percent, respectively, approving of the governor’s job performance. That’s down from 47 and 60 percent, respectively, since October.
Democrats and independent also are cooling on the governor personally and politically, the poll says.
In October, 28 percent of Democrats and 40 percent independents said they liked the governor and his policies. In Tuesday’s poll, those numbers are 21 and 29 percent, respectively.
The same two groups increasingly say they dislike the governor and his policies, with 42 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of independents saying they dislike the governor and his policies. Those numbers are up from October’s polling, which showed 28 percent and 20 percent, respectively, saying they disliked the governor and his policies, according to the poll.
“Although the governor still has a good amount of support among those who aren’t his natural allies, the political lovefest that often defined his relationship with Democrats seems to have cooled,” Jenkins said. “Of course, this is just a snapshot, and as information about what went on in the various inquiries that are driving news of the Christie administration continues to become available, these numbers could improve. But, at least today, the frosty weather outside is an apt metaphor for the cooling that’s apparent in these numbers.”
A majority of those polled also said they don’t believe Christie was ignorant of the George Washington bridge lane closures before the text messages and emails were made public. Of those polled, 53 percent said it’s unlikely he did not know about the lane closures in advance, the poll says.
Overall suspicion of the governor’s claim that he didn’t know is fairly constant across key demographics. Around half or more of Democrats, independents, and Republicans, as well as men and women, and whites and non-whites say it’s unlikely that the governor knew nothing before documents were revealed publicly, the poll says.
“A defining characteristic of the governor has been the public’s perception that he can be relied upon to speak honestly about issues that are both easy and difficult. At least on this issue, the public seems to be saying that, on balance, there’s more to the story than he’s so far revealed,” Jenkins said.
The vast majority – 85 percent – polled said they’re following the lane closure controversy closely. Partisans of all stripes are following the news about political machinations in Trenton to about the same degree, as are men and women, and whites and non-whites, the poll says.
Voters also don’t think much of Christie’s proposal to lengthen the school year and the school day for New Jersey public schools.
Only about 19 percent said the proposal would greatly improve educational quality. But more than double that number – 41 percent – said a longer school day and year would do nothing to bring about educational improvements, according to the poll.