Gov. Christopher Christie has an approval rating of 33% positive to 15% negative, according to a Monmouth University/Gannett poll released this morning.
A slight majority of New Jerseyans – 52% — withheld their opinion of Christie, who has only been in office for two weeks.
The public is skeptical that Christie will be able to do anything to rein in property taxes over the next four years, but will still be upset with him if he doesn’t.
A majority – 56% — felt that the state was either “not too likely” or “not at all likely” to enact reforms that will significantly reduce property taxes. Only 8% said that the prospect was “very likely,” while 34% said it was “somewhat likely.” Nevertheless, if property taxes remain high during Christie’s first term, 71% of respondents said they would be “very upset” with him.
“The public has spoken, Governor Christie. You are hereby expected to defy expectations,” said Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray.
Only 26% of residents approve of the job the state legislature is doing, while 46% disapprove (In a February, 2007 Monmouth poll, 35% approved and 40% disapproved).
A majority of residents – 51% — said they would be upset if Christie did not cut state spending, but 62% said they would be upset if school funding was cut. Moreover, 47% of residents would oppose Christie laying off thousands of state workers to balance the state budget, versus 40% who oppose it.
A Quinnipiac University poll from January 20 found that a majority of residents – 58% to 35% — supported either layoffs or furloughs for state workers (the Monmouth poll did not give the option of furloughs). At the time, Quinnipiac Polling Director Mickey Carroll said that voters “we’ll hand you the axe, Governor, if you want to chop state spending.”
Murray saw things differently.
“It’s important for Governor Christie to remember that New Jersey voters handed him a scalpel, not an axe,” he said. “He needs to tread carefully where job cuts are concerned and have strong budget justifications for large numbers of layoffs. While the state unions may not be held in high regard, the public sympathizes with the average state worker who has a family to feed. If job cuts appear to be indiscriminate, it could hurt the governor in the court of public opinion.”
An overwhelming majority of the respondents to the Monmouth Poll – 74% — said that they would be “very upset” if Christie did not reduce political corruption.
“This result may seem surprising since corruption registered as only a small blip on voters’ radar screens during the fall campaign, falling far behind taxes, state spending, and economic issues. But I think voters see corruption as something of a ‘gimme’ for Chris Christie. If the former U.S. Attorney can’t fix corruption with minimal effort, there’s little hope that he will be able to tackle the big ticket items on the public’s agenda,” said Murray.
The Monmouth University Polling Institute surveyed 803 state residents between January 27 and 31, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.