In Chicago Thursday after staggering through a blunder-filled British tour a week ago, Governor Chris Christie now faces New Jersey voters who have soured on the governor, according to today’s latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
As he maintains a 2016 presidential campaign tour with swings this week to Iowa and Illinois, the Republican governor’s support has collapsed to just 37 percent of registered NJ voters reporting a favorable impression, down seven points in just two months, the poll reports.
For the first time, a clear majority (53 percent) feels unfavorable toward Christie. His overall job approval is also clearly negative: 52 percent disapprove while 42 percent approve, a drop of six points since December.
A one-time asset – his self-described “bluntness,” on display in multiple viral YouTube videos – now looks like a deficit.
Voters have definite opinions about reasons behind the slide, but 20 percent mention his attitude, personality, and behavior. An additional 15 percent refer specifically to “Bridgegate” and 10 percent say something about shunning his current duties to pursue presidential ambitions.
“As one respondent said, ‘Christie visiting different states for the presidential race made New Jerseyans not like him,'” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Others used words like ‘arrogance,’ ‘rudeness’ and ‘abrasive’ to explain the turnaround from his high flying post-Sandy days. And of course, all manner of mentions of Bridgegate and other scandals were offered.”
Christie’s slump is reflected in specific issues as well. His job approval on taxes (the top concern for 29 percent of voters) is down three points to 28 percent since the December 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. On the economy – the most important issue for 24 percent – Christie is down four points to 31 percent approval.
And what was already a strikingly low approval rating on handling the pension situation dropped an additional five points to 19 percent. The largest decline, seven points to 35 percent, has been in respondents’ perception of his handling of education. Only approval levels on Sandy recovery (55 percent, the highest of any issue), crime and drugs (48 percent), and the budget (31 percent) have remained steady since the last poll.
Despite Christie’s increasingly negative ratings, voters split on whether he has been a good or bad governor: 38 percent of voters are positive, 33 percent negative, and 29 percent neutral. But voters are increasingly negative on the direction of the state: 35 percent say New Jersey is going in the right direction, while 54 percent say it is on the wrong track.
Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents. Eagleton contacted participants by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points. Pollsters conducted interviews in English and, when requested, Spanish, according to Eagleton.
For more about the governor’s statewide poll results, go here.