This morning’s survey of registered voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds Governor Chris Christie with an 18 percent job approval rating, a number that is statistically unchanged from its past recording in December, but significantly lower than where it was a year ago, in January 2016 (31%).
“Governor Christie’s State of the State address implored the public and legislators to do more to stop the drug epidemic in the state. Unlike past speeches that focused on taxes, spending, and other more conventional topics, this one was different in its bipartisan focus on an issue that has touched so many lives across the state. Unfortunately, New Jersey voters still think he’s doing a lousy job,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science.
Disapproval for the governor is widespread, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents rejecting his leadership. Even among Republicans, few are rallying to his side as less than half (37%) say they approve of his leadership.
The governor is not the only one who is largely disfavored by the public. When asked if they approve of the job the state legislature is doing, only 28 percent approve, with the vast majority (55%) saying they disapprove. As with the governor, displeasure abounds.
A majority of Democrats disapprove of the Democratic controlled legislature (51%). Republicans (53%) and independents (62%) offer even stronger disapproval. Disapproval has increased by double digits since June 2015, the last time the question was asked. Back then, 44 percent of voters disapproved of the legislature. Today, that number is over half (55%).
“With numbers like these for both the state legislature and executive, voters may be hoping for the opportunity to hit the reset button in November. Until then, it doesn’t look like either branch has much political capital or good will with their constituents,” said Jenkins.
Evaluations of the state’s direction remain unchanged since the FDU poll asked the voters in December 2016. Only a fifth (20%) believe the state is heading in the right direction, with three quarters (73%) who are concerned that the state is headed down the wrong track.
The one bright side for Christie is that registered voters are aware of the main issue of his State of the State address, as 42 percent say they have heard a lot or some about proposals to expand statewide assistance in the prevention and treatment of substance addiction. Attentiveness seems to go hand in hand with the widespread awareness of the problem. Sixty percent say they know someone personally who is or was addicted to drugs or alcohol. Of these, a full 70 percent say they know someone who lost their life in their battle with addiction.
When asked about who should be responsible for helping addicts seeking treatment, Garden State voters offer a decisive response. Three quarters (74%) believe individuals and their families should bear the most responsibility, with only a fifth (22%) who believe government should be looked to more often. Democrats (30%) are more likely than Republicans (12%) to believe in government’s role, but the real takeaway is that the widespread majority has no faith in government in this endeavor.
“Perhaps the public would favor a greater role for government in helping those with drug and alcohol addictions if government was evaluated more positively. However, when so few express confidence in executive and legislative leadership, entrusting government with something as important and personal as recovery management is a tough sell,” said Jenkins.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone January 25-29, 2017 among a random sample of 839 registered voters in New Jersey. Results have a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, including the design effect.