Rasmussen: Christie leads by 11

A Rasmussen Reports poll released this morning shows Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie leading Governor Corzine by 11 points – a small narrowing of the gap since the company’s last poll, but within its margin of error.

The bad news for Christie is that his negatives have gone up dramatically.

The automated survey was conducted on Tuesday — well after highly publicized negative news stories broke about Christie’s loan to former U.S. Attorney staffer Michele Brown and his conversations with Karl Rove.

Christie leads Corzine 47% to 36%, with 7% preferring “some other candidate” and 11% unsure. The poll does not mention independent Christopher Daggett, who qualified to receive matching funds from the state.

Christie’s lead shrinks to 8% when “leaners” are factored in.

“The trend of those leaners is particularly interesting. In July, the leaners were moving in Christie’s direction and worked to expand his lead. In early August, the leaners were evenly divided and had no impact on the gap between the candidates. Now, the leaners are moving in Corzine’s direction and are reducing Christie’s lead,” wrote the pollster.

Three weeks ago, Christie led Corzine by 13 points – 50% to 37%.

Christie’s unfavorables have gone up considerably, however. 48% of respondents had an either somewhat or very favorable view of him, while 51% view him unfavorably – the first time any poll has showed him with a net negative favorability rating, and up from 36% in Rasmussen’s July poll. That’s better than Corzine, however, whose favorables are at 36% and unfavorables are 61%. More voters (36%) have “very unfavorable” feelings about Corzine than Christie (19%).

Corzine’s approval remains deep in the red with 35% approving and 65% disapproving.

The poll found that Barack Obama remains popular in New Jersey, with a 55% approval rating and 41% of voters diapproving of his job performance so far.

The poll also asked which candidate respondents trusted on taxes (Chrsitie 48% to Corzine 28%), which they trusted on cutting government spending (Christie 49% to Corzine 23%) and which candidate was more likely to cut down on government corruption (Christie 47% to Corzine 25%).

Rasmussen surveyed 500 likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%. Rasmussen: Christie leads by 11