This morning’s Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll shows Gov. Chris Christie with a 48% approval, compared to to 42% disapproval among New Jersey residents. Among registered voters, his rating stands at 50% approve to 41% disapprove, the first time he hit the 50% mark in this poll since assuming office.
“The public’s outlook on property taxes has been on a roller coaster ride since Governor Christie took office,” said Patrick Murray, director of the poll. “Pessimism over property taxes has not been a noticeable drag on the governor’s overall job rating, but it’s difficult to shake the sense that it hangs over him like a Sword of Damocles. The big question is whether opinion will shift in a year or two as voters start to consider whether Christie deserves a second term.”
In May, polls showed the governor’s rating in net negative territory –46% to 49% among registered voters. According to Monmouth, Christie’s job approval rating among voters has since increased by 4 points while his disapproval number has gone down by 8 points.
“The governor’s decision to veto more than $1 billion in spending from the Legislature’s budget may have caused an uproar among Democrats, but most New Jerseyans appear to accept his decision even if they may not like it,” said the poll. “Among residents who followed the budget debate, 33% say they were dissatisfied with the governor’s line-item cuts compared to fewer (22%) who say they were satisfied by his veto choices. Another 42% say they can live with the cuts he made even though they are not particularly satisfied with them.”
Murray said it comes down to the temper of the times, and voters’ recognition of an uncertain economic outlook.
“Overall, the public has never been particularly happy with the size of the cuts Governor Christie has made in either of his budgets. However, they recognize New Jersey is in dire economic straits and continue to give the governor positive marks for leadership,” said Murray. “How he performs on the individual issues important to state residents is still very much up in the air.”
The poll graded their governor in the areas of education, controlling costs, and property taxes.
“Just over 18 months into his term, Christie’s grades on improving the state’s schools have remained stable, although not stellar: 28% give him an above average grade of A or B, 26% grade him a C and 40% give him a low grade of D or F. These results are very similar to polls taken at the governor’s 6-month and one-year marks. Christie’s grades on controlling costs and cutting waste have slipped in the past six months. He currently earns an A or B in this area from 34% of residents, a C from 34%, and a D or F from 28%. The proportion of residents giving him an above average grade has slipped from 41% in February and 43% in July of last year. Most of that drop has shifted to an average C grade, while the percentage of poor D and F grades remained stable over the past year and a half.”
The poll shows the governor’s grades on providing property tax relief also experiencing a drop.
“Currently, just 20% of New Jerseyans give him an A or B in this area, 30% give him a C, and 43% say he’s only earned a D or F. Christie’s grades in this area have steadily declined. Six months ago, 24% of the public gave him an above average grade and just over one year ago, 31% gave him an A or B. Currently, 35% of New Jerseyans say it is at least somewhat likely that they will see significant property tax relief in the next few years, compared to 61% who say it is not really likely. While the current level of optimism is five points lower than in February (40%), it is higher than it was in September 2010 (22%). The high point for optimism about property taxes during Christie’s term so far occurred just over a year ago in July 2010 (49%).”
A majority of 52% say state government has made at least “a little progress” (which includes 3% who say a “lot” and another 49% who say a “little”), while 43% feel the state has made “no” progress on property taxes.
There are no significant partisan differences in this opinion, according to the poll: 57% of Republicans, 52% of Democrats and 51% of independents say the state has made at least a little progress.
In other results from the poll: less than 1-in-10 say that either their town or local school district has made “a lot of progress” on property taxes in the past few years.
“In total, just under half (48%) say that their municipal government has made at least a little progress on this issue compared to 46% who say it has made no progress. Opinion about how school districts have performed on property taxes is similar – 45% say at least a little progress to 45% no progress. While much of the media attention about property taxes has focused on reforms proposed at the state level, it is at the local level where New Jerseyans really make their opinions known. When asked who they would contact first with a general complaint about property taxes, half of state residents identify a local official while only 1-in-5 name a state office holder. Specifically, 27% would contact their town hall or town council directly, 17% would call the mayor, and 6% would seek out their local tax collector or tax assessor. At the state level, 11% would contact the governor and 10% would contact a state legislator.”
The institute conducted the poll by telephone with 802 New Jersey adults from August 3 to 8. The poll has a margin of error of + 3.5 percent.