August 31, 2017
New Jersey is “one unhappy state,” according to a release sent with the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll on Friday.
Fewer than one in five registered voters think their state is going in the right direction, while almost three-quarters think it is on the wrong track.
Another one in 10 voters is unsure.
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At the core of voter discontent is lame-duck Gov. Chris Christie: Just 16 percent have a favorable opinion of him. And only 16 percent approve of the job he’s doing.
Both numbers are historic lows for the embattled governor.
By contrast, President Donald Trump has a 30 percent favorable rating in New Jersey, compared to 61 percent who said they have an unfavorable opinion of him.
The poll shows Christie is the least popular New Jersey governor since the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll first began asking the question in the 1970s, below the previous record lows of former Govs. Brendan Byrne and Jim Florio, each at 17 percent.
The polling also showed Republicans have finally also turned on the governor long after he lost Democrats and Independents.
Just 35 percent of Christie’s base now has a favorable opinion of him, while 50 percent are unfavorable. Likewise, 36 percent of Republicans approve of the job he is doing, compared to 59 percent of his own party who disapprove.
“Views on the state’s direction have marched in lockstep with the governor’s spiraling ratings since the Bridgegate scandal broke in 2014, ” said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University.
“Voters increasingly seem to feel Christie will be leaving New Jersey worse off than when he first took office,” she added.
Likewise, by a 65 to 30 percent margin, more disapprove than approve of the job Trump is doing as president. But unlike Christie, Trump has maintained three-quarters of his base in the Republican party and with independents.
The poll found the candidates hoping to replace Christie – Republican Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno and Democrat Phil Murphy – remain unfamiliar to many voters.
About four in 10 voters claim not to know them, though Murphy has a slight edge over Guadagno among those who express an opinion.
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, who is soon headed to trial on corruption charges, has a cloudy perception. Just 28 percent of voters are favorable, while 25 percent are unfavorable. His seat could be vacated following a conviction.
Sen. Cory Booker, by comparison, is the best-regarded statewide public official, with 54 percent of Garden State voters favoring him and just 23 percent of voters holding unfavorable opinions.