Support for Governor Chris Christie’s presidential bid has dropped in half among New Jersey Republicans over the last four months. Back in June, 18 percent of registered Republicans said they supported him for his party’s presidential nomination. Today that number is down to nine percent, according to the most recent statewide survey of registered voters in New Jersey from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.
The big vote getter is business magnate and political neophyte, Donald Trump, who attracts the support of 31 percent of Republicans, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio surging to second with the support of 18 percent. Rounding out the list of those in the double digits is Dr. Ben Carson, who registers 11 percent support in New Jersey.
“Our polling consistently shows that Republicans in the Garden State like straight talkers. But Governor Christie’s blunt approach is clearly facing unexpected competition from Donald Trump. And, to the extent that Christie was considered strong among the so-called ‘establishment’ candidates, he now has the rising appeal of Rubio to contend with. The people back home are not supporting their governor as much as he might have expected,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is supported more than her closest rival by a sizable margin. Around two-thirds of Democrats (64%) favor Clinton over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (27%). Clinton’s numbers have remained unchanged from June, the last time PublicMind asked registered voters in the Garden State about their presidential preferences. However, Sanders’ numbers increased from 15 to 27 percent. Sanders appears to be drawing support from those who were previously undecided.
The same survey finds that more than half of respondents in the Garden State (56%) say they disapprove of the job Christie is currently doing as governor. While clear majorities of Democrats and independents say they disapprove of his leadership, these numbers also reflect the continued trend among Republicans of a tightening favorable to unfavorable gap. Of the governor’s fellow Republicans, 51 percent say they approve of his job performance while 37 percent disapprove. This is a much smaller difference (14 points) than the nearly three-to-one ratio of approval to disapproval a little over a year ago.
Republican views of Governor Christie
“With declining support among his base, and the next gubernatorial election beginning to loom, it will be more difficult for Governor Christie to corral the support of Republicans. Recent unexpected losses for Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly only complicate the governor’s tale of electability and bipartisan leadership,” said Jenkins.
The news remains grim regarding perceptions of the state’s health. About a third (32%) say the state is headed in the right direction, with 59 percent who believe the state is doing poorly.
Methodology – The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey was conducted by landline and cellular telephone November 9 -15, 2015 among a random statewide sample of 830 self-identified registered voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.9 points, including the design effect.