Poll: Corzine upside-down, trails Christie

Gov. Jon Corzine has an upside-down 40%-49% approval rating and trails Republican Christopher Christie by four percentage points, 39%-35%, according to a new Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll released this morning. Corzine has an upside-down favorable rating of 43%-47%.

Corzine leads another Republican, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, 37%-33%.

The poll did not include a Republican primary ballot test.

“For a Democratic incumbent in a blue state like New Jersey, Jon Corzine is certainly not in an enviable position.” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “However, the Republican primary campaign has recently taken a nasty turn which may have stalled Chris Christie’s momentum and boosted Steve Lonegan’s profile.”

Christie, the former U.S. Attorney, has a 41%-16% favorable rating, and is unknown to 19% of voters. Among Republicans, Christie has a 56%-9% favorable rating, with 88% total name ID. Lonegan has a 28%-10% favorable rating; 38% of voters don't know who he is. Lonegan has favorables of 49%-7% among Republicans, with 77% name ID.

The poll shows property taxes as the top issue, with nearly half the voters (47%) saying they would be more likely to vote for a Republican gubernatorial candidate if he promised a property tax cut.

“The state’s property tax burden is clearly the top concern among voters, but it seems to be absent from the current campaign. It’s probably a sign of just how desperate voters have become that, even if they won’t believe the promises, they would still like to see some sign that the candidates acknowledge the state’s top issue,” said Murray.

A little more than one out of ten voters (12%) say they would consider voting for an Independent candidate. Former state Commissione of Environmental Protection Christopher Daggett has 31% name ID, with an upside-down 5%-6% favorable rating. Two other independent candidates, Rev. Shannon Wright and Libertarian Kenneth Kaplan, were not included in the poll

“Traditionally, independent candidates fare very poorly in New Jersey elections. Given the two-party hold on the process and a prohibitively expensive media market, an independent candidate would need to enter the field with instant name recognition to make a decent run,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll was conducted by telephone with 690 New Jersey registered voters from April 23-27, 2009. This sample has a margin of error of + 3.7 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Gannett New Jersey newspaper group. Poll: Corzine upside-down, trails Christie