Quinnipiac: Christie takes the lead in race for Governor as Corzine disapproval rating dips to 50%

Republican Christopher Christie leads Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine by six percentage points, 44%-38%, in the race for Governor, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released early this morning.

Corzine’s approval ratings have dropped to an upside-down 41%-50%, and his favorable are upside-down at 41%-49%.

“Corzine suddenly has become the underdog in this race and history will surely repeat itself in New Jersey in 2009. The big question is whether Corzine will come back like Democratic Gov. Brendan Byrne did in 1977 or go down to defeat like Jim Florio in 1993,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

In a Republican primary, Christie, the former U.S. Attorney, leads former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan 44%-17%, with Franklin Mayor Brian Levine at 5% and Assemblyman Rick Merkt (R-Mendham) at 2%.

More than half of New Jersey voters, 54%-33%, say that Corzine does not deserve to be re-elected to a second term. Just 23% of independent voters want Corzine for another four years, 64% do not. Christie leads Corzine among independents by a 49%-24% margin.

Most New Jerseyans still don’t know Christie (61%) or Lonegan (78%). Christie has a 31%-7% favorable rating.

In a head-to-head general election matchup, Corzine leads Lonegan 42%-36%. Lonegan leads among independents by 12 points, 40%-28%, and has a 15%-6% favorable rating.

“Christie has broken out of the gate as a strong challenger to Gov. Jon Corzine. In less than four months, he has come from trailing the Governor by six points to leading him by six points – a 12-point shift,” Richards said. In November, Corzine led Christie 42%-36%.

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Quinnipiac: Christie takes the lead in race for Governor as Corzine disapproval rating dips to 50%