Six months after Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey residents are optimistic about their governor and the state in general. Nearly seven in ten — 68% — approve of how Governor Chris Christie is doing his job. 24% disapprove, and 8% are unsure. Registered voters share these views. 69% of registered voters give Christie a thumbs up as governor. 24% of voters disapprove, and 7% are unsure.
“The key elements are in place for Governor Christie’s re-election…his high approval ratings, voters’ upbeat mood about the direction of the state, and, of course, his efforts following Hurricane Sandy,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “This makes it extremely difficult for his Democratic challenger.”
The governor is lauded by residents for his handling of New Jersey’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Eight in ten — 81% — approve of Christie’s hurricane recovery efforts. 13% disapprove and 5% are unsure. 56% also approve of how Christie is handling the state’s budget, and 33% disapprove. 11% are unsure.
Many New Jersey residents view the state as on track. 62% believe it is moving in the right direction. 31% disagree and say New Jersey is on the wrong path. Seven percent are unsure.
Christie Leads Buono by More than Two-to-One in Governor’s Race
In the contest for New Jersey governor, Republican incumbent Chris Christie — 60% — outpaces Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono — 28% — by 32 percentage points among registered voters. One percent supports another candidate, and 10% are undecided. Among the probable electorate, including voters who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Christie has 62% to 28% for Buono. One percent supports another candidate and 9% are undecided.
- Party ID. Most Republicans — 94% — support Christie while only a slim majority of Democrats — 51% — back Buono. Among independent voters in New Jersey, 64% are for Christie while 22% are behind Buono.
- Intensity of Support. Among registered voters in New Jersey who have a candidate preference, 56% strongly support their choice of candidate. 30% are somewhat committed to their pick while 11% might vote differently. Three percent are unsure. Among Christie’s supporters, 57% are firmly behind him while 55% of Buono’s backers are strongly in her camp.
- Gender. Among men, 66% are for Christie while 24% support Buono. A majority of women — 56% — support Christie compared with 32% for Buono.
- Age. Christie is ahead of Buono among all age groups. Christie — 63% — leads Buono — 26% — among voters 60 and older. Christie — 58% — also outdistances Buono — 30% — among those 45 to 59. Looking at those 30 to 44, 60% support Christie compared with 29% for Buono. 63% of voters under the age of 30 are for Christie while 29% are behind Buono.
- Past Vote. Christie also receives notable support from those who voted for President Obama last fall. 42% of Obama backers support Christie while 46% support Democrat Buono. 32% of those who voted for Jon Corzine, the Democratic candidate in the 2009 gubernatorial race, now support Christie. 55% of Corzine voters plan to vote for Buono.
More than six in ten registered voters — 61% — are satisfied with the candidates running for governor in November while 28% are not satisfied with the candidates from which they have to choose. 11% are unsure.
Two-Thirds Have a Favorable Opinion of Christie…Buono Largely Unknown
Governor Chris Christie is perceived well by 67% of New Jersey residents. 28% have an unfavorable opinion of him, and 5% are unsure. Registered voters have similar impressions. 68% of voters have a favorable view of the governor, 27% have an unfavorable one, and 4% are unsure.
However, Buono is little-known in the state. Only 23% have a favorable view of Buono while 18% have an unfavorable impression of her. Most residents statewide — 59% — have either never heard of Buono or are unsure how to rate her. Buono is not much better known among registered voters. 24% of voters have a favorable impression of her, 18% have an unfavorable view, but 57% have either never heard of her or are unsure how to rate her.
Majority Says Christie Should Not Run for President in 2016
Despite his popularity, when talk turns to a possible presidential run, 55% of New Jersey registered voters do not want Christie to throw his hat into the ring. 34% believe Christie should run for president, and 12% are unsure.
- Among Republicans, 50% would like to see Christie run for President. 34% do not want him in the race, and 15% are unsure.
- 26% of Democrats want Christie in the presidential contest, but 64% do not. Nine percent are unsure.
- 32% of independents want the governor in the 2016 race. 56% do not, and 12% are unsure.
- Among Tea Party supporters, 34% support a Christie 2016 run, and 55% are opposed to it. 11% are unsure.
In fact, in a hypothetical 2016 presidential match-up with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Christie trails Clinton, 41% to 52% among New Jersey voters. Six percent are undecided.
Christie bests Vice President Joe Biden for president, 51% to 40%, among registered voters in the state. Eight percent are undecided.
45% Approve of Job Senator Menendez is Doing in Office, 38% Believe He Acted Unethically in Donor Dust-Up
A plurality of residents — 45% — approve of the job Senator Robert Menendez is doing in office. 31% disapprove, and 24% are unsure. Registered voters have similar opinions. 46% of voters in the state rate Senator Menendez positively, 32% rate him negatively, and 22% are unsure. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats — 65% — give the senator high marks, whereas 25% of Republicans and 39% of Independents say the same.
Opinion is divided about the investigation of Senator Menendez’ ties to a wealthy donor. 14% of New Jersey residents believe he did nothing wrong while 38% think he did something unethical but not illegal. 16% say he did something illegal. One-third — 33% — are unsure.
Majority of New Jersey Residents Approve of Obama, Democratic Party, But GOP Doesn’t Fare So Well
President Obama has the approval of 57% of New Jersey residents. 38% disapprove of the job the president is doing in office, and 6% are unsure. Similar proportions of registered voters share these views. 56% of voters approve of the president’s job performance, 38% disapprove, and 5% are unsure. Among Democrats in the state, 88% give Obama a thumbs up, and 8% disapprove. 78% of Republicans, however, disapprove of the President’s job, and 16% approve. Independents divide — 48% approve and 45% disapprove. 61% of residents view Obama favorably while 36% do not. Three percent are unsure. Registered voters agree. 60% approve of the job the president is doing, 37% disapprove, and 3% are unsure.
The Democratic Party is viewed favorably by a slim majority — 51% — of New Jersey residents. 42% have an unfavorable impression of the party, and 7% are unsure. Registered voters parallel these impressions. 50% of voters have a positive view, 43% have a negative one, and 6% are unsure.
The Republican Party is not highly regarded. 33% have a favorable view of the party while 58% of New Jersey residents view the party unfavorably. Nine percent are unsure. There is little difference in opinion among registered voters. 34% of voters have a favorable opinion, 59% do not, and 7% are unsure.
Sequester Cuts Not Affecting Most, Two-Thirds Want Stricter Gun Laws
Nearly two-thirds of New Jersey residents — 65% — report they are not experiencing much impact personally from the federal spending cuts triggered by the sequester on March 1st. Seven percent say they have been affected a great deal, and 8% have been affected quite a bit. 16% have only been affected some, and 4% are unsure.
A plurality of New Jersey residents — 42% — say the sequester cuts will hurt the economy. 29% believe the cuts will have no impact, and 18% think the cuts will be good for the economy. 11% are unsure.
Most New Jersey residents think laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter. 67% hold this view while 24% say current gun laws are sufficient. Six percent say the laws should be less strict, and 3% are unsure. Registered voters share these views. Among gun owners, a plurality — 48% — believes gun laws should be kept as they are now, and 38% want stricter laws. 12% of gun owners think the laws should be less strict, and 2% are unsure.