New Jersey voters remain resolute in their disapproving attitude toward Governor Christie. The most recent statewide survey of registered voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds a record low number voicing approval for his leadership. A full two-thirds (66%) disapprove of his job performance, with only a quarter (26%) who say they approve. This is the highest disapproval PublicMind has recorded for Governor Christie. Moreover, half (49%) now say they dislike everything about Governor Christie, up from thirty-nine percent when the same question was last asked almost a year ago.
“Governor Christie likes to be identified as someone with thick skin and penchant for being tough. With so few voters supportive of him, these are traits that should serve him well personally as well as politically,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind.
The highest job approval for the Governor was 77 percent in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. That was the outlier, however, with approval hovering more in the 50s until the Bridgegate scandal began making headlines. Following that, his approval has suffered an unabated decline and recent data from PublicMind suggests the floor has yet to be seen.
When asked about the governor’s personality and policy issues, 29 percent like either his policies or personality, but not both, and a fifth (20%) like everything about the Christie package. Forty nine percent – the highest recorded in a PublicMind survey – now say they dislike everything about Governor Christie, rejecting him both personally as well as politically. The only group that doesn’t approach or exceed half of all saying they dislike all of what Christie offers are Republicans. For example, half or more than half of all women (54%), the college educated (52%), Millennials (60%), and independents (48%) reject the second term governor.
“There was a time not too long ago when the governor enjoyed the opposite – half saying they liked everything about him. If anything, the Republican governor was warmly embraced by some of his natural foes. Today, we’re seeing a wholesale reversal of fortune,” said Jenkins.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, an alarming number of voters say they are concerned about the direction the state is headed. Two-thirds (69%) say things are moving in an unhealthy direction, with only 23 percent who are comfortable that the state’s in a good place. As with the Governor’s approval ratings, these numbers represent record highs (for concern) and lows (for satisfaction) during Christie’s years in office.
Contributing to the Governor’s declining approval in the state seems to be his recent endorsement and work on behalf of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Opinion is divided over whether the endorsement and announcement that Christie would lead up Trump’s transition should he win in November has helped or hurt Christie’s image among voters. Forty-six percent say the work on behalf of Trump has hurt their opinion of the Governor, with 47 percent who say it has made no difference. Only six percent say it actually helped his image.
“The alignment with Trump may be beneficial to his long term political prospects, but it’s not doing much to move the needle back home. For many, cozying up to Trump hurts the Governor even more,” said Jenkins.
Finally, with the ongoing Bridgegate investigation back in the news, voters were asked whether the governor should resign or remain in office should it be revealed that he did not stop or prevent the lane closures from continuing. As speculation persists over whether the Governor will be named as an unindicted co-conspirator once the legal wrangling over public disclosure of the names is settled, half say Christie should resign (57%) if he’s outed as knowing about the closures, with only 35 percent who would support his continued service.
Methodology – The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey was conducted by landline and cellular telephone May 18-22, 2016 among a random statewide sample of 702 self-identified registered voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.7 points, including the design effect.