As the Bridgegate trial begins, just 23 percent of New Jersey registered voters now have a favorable opinion of Gov. Chris Christie – down three points since April and seven points in the past year, a new low for the Republican governor who earlier this year took an unsuccessful stab at president.
The numbers are from this morning’s Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. The poll leaves the governor’s favorability at one third of its February 2013 peak. Sixty-seven percent now view the governor unfavorably, a new high for Christie since taking office.
The poll shows that Christie’s overall job approval has likewise taken another hit and is now at 26 percent approve (down five points) to 69 percent disapprove (up six points). Christie fares no better on a variety of individual issues. He draws his lowest approval levels ever on issues like the economy and jobs (27 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove), the state pension fund situation (15 percent approve, 67 percent disapprove), and taxes (22 percent approve, 69 percent disapprove). Christie also drops to a new low on transportation and infrastructure (25 percent approve, 65 percent disapprove) and continues to receive low marks on education and schools (31 percent approve, 61 percent disapprove).
Matching their views of the governor, voters are increasingly pessimistic about the state’s overall direction: just 25 percent now believe New Jersey is headed in the right direction (down six points), while 68 percent say the state has gone off on the wrong track (up eight points). Voters have been more negative than positive about the state’s direction since March 2014, but have not been this pessimistic since October 2009.
“New Jerseyans are increasingly unhappy with the state and the way it is being run,” said Ashley Koning, interim director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University. “With Bridgegate unlikely to go away any time soon, the Transportation Trust Fund and gas tax unresolved, and a still-struggling economy, it’s no wonder that views on Gov. Christie and the state as a whole have slipped to new lows.”
Voters’ disapproving views extend to casino expansion in the Garden State, as well – no matter how the question is posed. Among those voters asked whether casino gambling should be permitted in other parts of the state or limited to Atlantic City, 40 percent side with the former (down four points), while 50 percent side with the latter (up one point); 3 percent volunteer that they do not want gambling permitted anywhere in the state, and 7 percent are unsure. Among those voters directly asked the casino expansion question that will appear on the November ballot, just 35 percent approve the amendment, while 58 percent disapprove; 7 percent are unsure.
“Eagleton has been polling on permitting gambling in other parts of the state since 1979, and New Jerseyans across a number of demographics have never warmed to the idea,” said Koning. “If this pattern continues, there is little hope for the ballot amendment passing.”
Results are from a statewide poll of 802 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 6 to 10, 2016, including 735 registered voters reported on in this release. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.