Gov. Jon Corzine enters the final weeks of his re-election campaign with an upside-down 39%-56% job approval rating. For comparison purposes, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman was at 53%-43% when she was narrowly re-elected twelve years ago. New Jersey’s last two Governors were popular on Election Day – Richard Codey had a job approval of 68%-16% in 2005, and Donald DiFrancesco was at 60%-14% in 2001 – but they were not candidates for re-election. (These are all Quinnipiac numbers)
One comparison for Corzine and Republican Christopher Christie could be the 2006 U.S. Senate race between Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Thomas Kean, Jr., which was fought against the backdrop of ethics issues and a strong political environment. In an October 12 Quinnipiac poll, Menendez led Kean 49%-45%. Menendez, who had been appointed to the Senate ten months earlier, had split favorables: 32%-32%; Kean, the son of a popular former governor, was at 34%-18%.
By a 51%-18% margin, voters said Kean was honest and trustworthy; for Menendez, it was 38% honest and trustworthy, 39% not honest and trustworthy. By a narrow 45%-48% margin, voters say Corzine is not honest and trustworthy. Voters are split 42%-40% on whether Christie is honest and trustworthy. 43% of Kean voters said they were more anti-Menendez than pro-Kean, while 28% of Menendez supporters indicated they were more against Kean than they were for Menendez.
Menendez won that race by nine percentage points, 53%-44%.