Tom Kean Is the Most Popular New Jersey Governor

Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Tom Kean remains the most beloved New Jersey governor, while Chris Christie is the most unpopular, according to a new poll.

Kean, a Republican who served from 1982 to 1990, was viewed favorably by 45 percent of state residents and unfavorably by 12 percent, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday. That net positive rating of +33 makes him the most popular living New Jersey governor—as he was in similar surveys in 2006 and 2010.

“Nearly 30 years after he left office, Tom Kean and New Jersey are still perfect together,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

At the bottom of the 10-person list is Christie, a Republican who left office in January. He has a net negative rating of -49, with 22 percent viewing him favorably and 71 percent unfavorably. In 2010, Christie had a net positive +14 rating (31 percent favorable and 17 percent unfavorable).

“Christie is more solidly installed in last place than Kean is in first place. This marks a colossal fall from Christie’s third place showing when he premiered on this list eight years ago,” Murray said. “Another interesting point is that Christie is—by far—the governor who most New Jerseyans are ready to express an opinion on. This is probably fitting considering how readily he went off on his own constituents when he was in office.”

Brendan Byrne, a Democrat who served from 1974 to 1982 and died in January, was the second most popular governor with a +18 net positive rating (28 percent favorable and 10 percent unfavorable).

“Sadly, we lost Brendan Byrne early this year, but he is remembered like his successor, as someone admired by New Jerseyans across the entire political spectrum,” Murray said.

Current Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, ranked third on the list. He was viewed favorably by 42 percent of state residents, while 26 percent had a negative view.

The only other governor with a positive rating was Dick Codey, a Democrat who served from 2004 to 2006. He was viewed favorably by 25 percent of residents and unfavorably by 13 percent.

The poll of 703 New Jersey adults was conducted from April 6 to April 10. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Tom Kean Is the Most Popular New Jersey Governor