After taking a slight dip in May, Pres. Obama’s job rating stands above 50% in New Jersey, while the state’s two U.S. Senators’ ratings have dipped. The Monmouth University Poll also found increased support for Obamacare and gay marriage after recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings. On the state level, few say that Gov. Christie can claim pension reform as a major accomplishment.
Sen. Bob Menendez garners a 37% approve to 36% disapprove rating among all New Jersey residents and a 38% approve to 38% disapprove rating among registered voters. This marks a slight decline from his May voter rating of 42% approve to 38% disapprove. This is the first time Menendez does not have a net positive rating among Garden State voters. The senator’s ratings have been dropping since he was indicted on federal corruption charges this spring. In a February poll taken before the indictment was unsealed, Menendez held a solid 49% approve to 27% disapprove rating among New Jersey voters.
“The corruption indictment appears to be taking a toll on the senator’s popularity,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, N.J.
Sen. Cory Booker earns a 44% approve to 22% disapprove rating among all Garden State residents and a 45% approve to 24% disapprove rating among registered voters. This is down from the 51% to 21% voter rating he held earlier this year, but still marks a largely net positive rating.
A majority (51%) of New Jersey adults approve of the job Barack Obama is doing and 45% disapprove. Among registered voters, 52% approve and 46% disapprove. This is a slight uptick from May, when Garden State voter opinion of the president stood at 48% approve to 46% disapprove, but the current results are slightly lower than February when Obama’s rating was 54% to 42%.
“The past couple of weeks have been good for the president, and that is reflected both in his job approval rating and an uptick in support for his signature healthcare policy,” said Murray.
Currently, 49% of New Jerseyans have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act and 43% hold an unfavorable view. This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the law. It also marks the highest positive rating for Obamacare in Monmouth’s New Jersey polling going back to 2013. One year ago, Garden State opinion stood at a net negative 42% favorable and 52% unfavorable.
Another U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared same sex marriage to be legal throughout the country. New Jersey’s courts made this determination nearly two years ago. Today, fully 7-in-10 (70%) New Jersey residents favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, including nearly half who strongly favor same sex marriage. Just 21% are opposed. Support has grown since the federal and state court decisions. In April 2013, 59% of New Jerseyans favored same sex marriage.
Another court decision with significant implications is the recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that struck down the payment schedule in the 2011 pension reform law. Just 12% of state residents approve of Gov. Christie’s decision to forego the full pension payment this year, while 42% disapprove and 46% have no opinion. Just 11% of New Jerseyans say that Christie can claim major accomplishments in fixing the state’s pension system, 31% say he has had only minor accomplishments, and nearly half – 47% – say he has no real pension accomplishments to crow about.
“The governor can’t expect the public to see pension reform as one of his major accomplishments after he asked the court to overturn a key provision in his own law,” said Murray.
While the pension costs balloon, most New Jerseyans feel the state is obligated to pay those benefits for current workers. Specifically, 31% say that state workers deserve the pension benefits they have earned no matter the cost and 46% say state worker pension benefits may be too high but we should give them what they were promised. Only 19% say that pension benefits for current workers are way too high and should be cut.
The poll also asked about the job the state legislature is doing. Currently, 32% of New Jersey voters approve and 51% disapprove. This is down from the 33% approve to 48% disapprove rating the legislature received in May.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone with 503 New Jersey adults, including 453 registered voters, from June 30 to July 1, 2015. The total sample has a margin of error of + 4.4 percent and the registered voter sample has a margin of error of + 4.6 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.