Quinnipiac:Christie has 9-point lead over Corzine

Republican Christopher Christie has a nine percentage point lead, 46%-37%, over Gov. Jon Corzine in the race for Goveror of New Jersey, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released early this morning. Christie led Corzine by six points last month, and a Fairliegh Dickinson University poll also out Chrisie nine points ahead.

Corzine has an upside-down approval rating of 40%-50%, about the same as his standing five weeks ago. The governor has favorables of 38%-50%, also upside-down. Just 31% approve of the way Corzine is handling the economy, while 56% say they disapprove.

This poll was in the field from March 4-9 and does not affect voter attitudes after Corzine delivered his budget address to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on Tuesday.

“There are no good numbers for Gov. Jon Corzine in this poll, and since it was taken before his Draconian budget was released, his numbers could be even worse today,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Chris Christie continues to widen his lead over Jon Corzine in the race for Governor and this poll indicates Christie could become stronger once he gets better known.”

In a Republican gubernatorial primary matchup, Christie, the former U.S. Attorney, leads former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan by 21 points, 40%-19%. Franklin Mayor Brian D. Levine is at 3%, and Assemblyman Rick Merkt (R-Mendham) is at 1%.

Christie has favorables of 31%-7%, with more than six out of ten voters have no yet heard of him. Lonegan is at 15%-7%, with 77% of voters unaware of his candidacy.

Lonegan trails Corzine by four points, with Corzine holding a 41%-37% lead over the leader of the state's conservative GOP movement.

Asked if Corzine deserved a second term as Governor, 34% said yes and 53% said no.

“Six out of 10 voters say they do not know enough about Christie to form an opinion and nearly as many say they were unaware he is the federal prosecutor who put more than 100 New Jersey politicians out of office,” Richards added. “When told of his record as a prosecutor, about a third of those who did not have an opinion about him said they were more likely to vote for him after hearing about his record.” Quinnipiac:Christie has 9-point lead over Corzine