FDU Poll: Christie job approval 51%

As Gov. Chris Christie stumps nationwide for Republican candidates – this week in Pennsylvania, a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll this morning shows 51% of New Jersey voters approving of the job he is doing, while 37% disapprove – Christie’s best rating since early in March, before his first budget speech.

Three of five voters (60%) say the state should hold the line on spending and reduce programs in order to balance the budget, rather than raise taxes, with those voters approving of the governor (67%-23%), according to the poll. “About one in five voters (22%), say it’s better to raise taxes and continue to support state programs, and those voters emphatically disapprove of the governor (62%-26%).”

Of those who prefer spending and program cuts to taxes, 61% rate the governor as “good” or “excellent,” while of those who prefer maintaining state programs and raising taxes, 80% rate the governor as “only fair” or “poor.”

“These are strong numbers for a politician who is cutting deeply into the public budget, is the target of many interest groups, and contends with a legislature controlled by the other party,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “No wonder candidates in other states want him to campaign for them.”

Predictably, voters from public employee households disapprove of the governor’s performance (56%-37%), though “voters from all other households approve of the governor’s performance by 55%-32%. Men approve of the tough guy governor by a 2-to-1 margin (60%-30%) while women split over the question (43%-43%).

“Voters are not lukewarm about this guy,” said Woolley, “Just as he has strong opinions about running the state, they have strong opinions about him.”

Democratic legislative leadership remains amorphous, by contrast, as more than four of five voters either have not heard of Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) , or have no opinion of them. 

Forty-two percent of voters have a favorable view of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, while just 8% have a negative view. “Of the governor himself, 48% have a favorable view, up from 41% in August, while 39% have an unfavorable view, up from 36%.”

“By a margin of 48% to 44% voters say the state is still on the ‘wrong track,’ and public employee households by a 2-to-1 margin (64%-31%) agree that the state is on the wrong track. And while a majority of men (51%) say the state is headed in the right direction, a majority of women (53%) say the state is going in the wrong direction.”

But disaffection’s a near-permanent condition here. A year ago two-thirds of voters (68%) said the state was on the wrong track, according to Woolley, and the last time more than more than 40% of voters said the state was headed in the right direction was over three years ago, in May 2007.

“Clearly, for New Jersey, optimism from just two in five people is pretty good,” the pollster said.

Conducted by telephone from Oct. 4-10 and reflecting the views of 831 registered voters, the FDU poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

FDU Poll: Christie job approval 51%