New York Times poll: It’s all about the economy

The New York Times poll has the race for governor in a statistical dead heat – good news for incumbent Jon Corzine, who has closed the gap in every independent poll after being far behind Republican Christopher Christie for the last few months. The bad news for Corzine is how New Jerseyans (although not necessarily likely voters) view him: 72% disapprove of the way he is handling property taxes, 56% disapprove of the way he's handling the state's economy, and 51% disapprove of how he's handling corruption issues – not that anyone cares; just 3% of residents listed corruption as their top issue, while 44% listed taxes and the economy.

More than half of registered voters (56%) believe their property taxes will go up during a second Corzine administration; 36% say it will stay about the same, and just 4% believe that Corzine will reduce their property taxes. Christie does a little better: 42% think he'll cut their property taxes; 35% believe he'll raise them, and 11% think they'll go down.

Nearly three out of four New Jerseyans (74%) say that the condition of the state's economy is bad and only 13% believe the economy is getting better. About a third (35%) says the economy is becoming worse. Nearly two-thirds of the state (66%) says the federal stimulus package has had no impact on their local community, although long term, 38% think it will make the local economy better; 38% say it will have no impact. And New Jerseyans are mixed, 47%-45%, on whether the stimulus plan will create new jobs.

44% of registered voters say New Jersey's economy will stay the same under Corzine, and 38% think it will remain the same under Christie. 22% say it will get better under Corzine, and 28% say it will get worse. 26% say it will get better under Christie, and 23% say it will get worse.

Most registered voters (54%) view Corzine as having strong leadership qualities, and by a 58%-40% margin, they say he cares about the needs and problems of the people. But 63% say he's not someone they can relate to, and 40% say he is no more or less honest than most people who run for office. Voters are split, 47%-45% on whether Corzine has "clearly explained his positions on issues facing New Jersey."

Christie does worse on the strong leadership qualities question: 38% say yes and 39% say no. He is slightly behind Corzine on how much he cares (50%-40%), but he's a little better on whether people can relate to him (58% say they can't). 36% say he is no more or less honest than everyone else, about the same as Corzine. Most voters (57%) say he has not clearly explained his positions.

41% of registered voters say that Corzine's Wall Street background had no effect on his performance as governor. 35% say it helped, and 16% say it hurt. 56% of registered voters say that Christie's experience as U.S. Attorney will help him as governor, while 30% say it will have no effect and 8% say it will hurt him.

Nearly two-third of registered voters (65%) say that Barack Obama's endorsement of Corzine will have no effect on their vote. 17% say it will make them more likely to support Corzine, and 16% say less likely.

New York Times poll: It’s all about the economy