As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie approaches the end of his time in office, Christie’s job approval rating stands at a dismal 16% among New Jersey residents. 73%, including 58% of those who identify as Republicans, disapprove. Christie’s current approval rating is in stark contrast with the 68% job approval rating he received in May 2013 before seeking re-election. At that time, only 24% disapproved.
Nearly three in four New Jersey adults, 73%, have an unfavorable opinion of Christie, and only 20% have a favorable impression of him. Again, the tide of public opinion has turned against Christie. Four years ago, the governor had a 67% favorable score and a 28% unfavorable one.
“Following Bridgegate, a failed presidential bid, and the fallout from his holiday beach visit, New Jersey residents have had it with Governor Christie,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “It is unlikely that a sense of nostalgia will kick in during his final months as governor. The overwhelming proportion of Garden Staters think New Jersey is headed in the wrong direction and think Christie will be remembered as either a below average governor or one of the worst. ”
Nearly seven in ten residents, 68%, think Christie’s legacy has been tarnished. Included here are a plurality, 40%, who believe Christie will be remembered as one of the state’s worst governors and 28% who believe he will be recalled as below average. More than one in five, 21%, say Christie will be remembered as an average leader of the state while only 10% think Christie will be described either as an above average governor, 8%, or one of the state’s best, 2%.
Most registered voters want New Jersey to make a fresh start once Governor Christie leaves office. 81% of adults in the Garden State, including 63% of those who describe themselves as Republicans, think it is more important to have a governor who will move New Jersey in a different direction while 12% believe it is more important to have a governor who will continue Governor Christie’s policies.
Additionally, more than seven in ten adults statewide, 71%, say things in New Jersey are off on the wrong track. Only 21% believe the state is headed in the right direction. Eight percent are unsure. In 2013, residents were exceedingly more positive about the trajectory of the state. 62% of New Jersey adults, at that time, thought the Garden State was on track, 31% thought it was moving in the wrong direction, and 7% were unsure.
Not surprisingly, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno faces an uphill battle in her bid to succeed her boss. In the 2017 gubernatorial contest in New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy, 54%, leads Guadagno, 33%, by 21 points among New Jersey registered voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. One percent support someone else, and 12% are undecided.
Murphy and Guadagno each have the support of their respective party. However, more residents who identify as Democrats, 85%, back Murphy than Republican identifiers, 74%, endorse Guadagno. Among registered voters who say they supported Christie in 2013, 65% report they are for Guadagno.
“Guadagno faces a dilemma in that she must find a way to recapture the Christie vote from 2013 while also being a candidate for change in 2017,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “As Christie’s lieutenant governor, this represents a tough challenge.”
However, New Jersey voters are not thrilled with the candidates for governor. 40% of registered voters say they are not satisfied with the Democratic or Republican nominee while 35% say they are content with the candidates from which to choose. A notable 26% are unsure. More voters who back Murphy, 43%, compared with 37% of those supporting Guadagno, are satisfied.
Guadagno and Murphy also suffer from low name recognition. However, of those who do have an opinion of the candidates, Murphy’s favorable rating is right-side up while residents divide about Guadagno. 44% of New Jersey residents have either never heard of Murphy or are unsure how to rate him. 34% have a positive impression of him, and 22% have a negative opinion. Nearly half of New Jersey residents, 49%, have either never heard of Guadagno or are unsure how to rate her. 27% have an unfavorable view of her, and 24% have a favorable opinion of the lieutenant governor.
The so-called “summer of hell” is upon New Jersey residents, a significant proportion of whom have been impacted by the repairs to New York’s Pennsylvania Station and resulting service delays. 26% say these changes have affected them or a member of their household, at least a little.
Among those who have been impacted, nearly seven in ten, 69%, say they have allowed more travel time to get to their destination. This represents 18% of all New Jersey households. Significant proportions have entirely changed their plans, been late for work or an appointment, or have experienced significant delays due to the resulting service changes.
Among New Jersey households that have been impacted by the repairs, 41% believe New Jersey Transit is doing either an excellent, 6%, or good, 35%, job keeping people informed of changes and delays. However, fewer than one in four households affected give NJT above average grades with regard to the compensation and accommodations it is providing transit riders for the inconvenience.
What overall grade do New Jersey residents give NJT for the job they are doing handling the disruption in service during the repairs? Nearly two-thirds, 65%, grade NJT with a “C” or better. This includes 9% who give them an “A,” 25% who bestow a “B,” and 31% who grade NJT with a “C.” Ten percent say New Jersey Transit deserves a “D,” and 8% give NJT an “F” for a failing grade.
Turning to national politics, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating is at 33% among New Jersey residents. 60% say they disapprove of the job he is doing, and 7% are unsure. Of note, the proportion of residents who say they strongly disapprove of the job President Trump is doing, 44%, is nearly three times the proportion of those who say they strongly approve of his job performance, 16%.
Trump’s base is still strong. 82% of New Jersey residents who consider themselves Republicans and 83% of those who supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election say they approve of the president’s job performance. 88% of those who identify as Democrats and 55% of independents disapprove.
President Trump’s favorable score is upside down in the Garden State. 60% of residents statewide say they have an unfavorable opinion of Trump while 35% have a favorable one. Five percent are unsure.
New Jersey adults have little regard for either the Republican or Democratic parties. 31% of adults statewide, compared with 33% in 2013, say they have a favorable impression of the Republican Party. 58% say they have an unfavorable view of the GOP, identical to four years ago. Looking at residents’ views of the Democratic Party, 40% of adults, down from 51% four years ago, say they have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party. 49%, up from 42% previously, report they have an unfavorable impression of it. Of note, 58% of independents have a negative opinion of the GOP, and 60% of independents have an unfavorable impression of the Democratic Party.
On the issue of health care, 69% of New Jersey residents want the Affordable Care Act to either remain in its current form, 19%, or to be changed so that it does more, 50%. Only 5% want it changed so that it does less, and 22% want it repealed completely. Not surprisingly, 63% of Democratic identifiers want the ACA to do more while 55% of Republican identifiers want Congress to repeal it. Of note, 25% of Republicans would like to broaden the scope of Obamacare. 50% of independents would like the ACA to be changed so that it includes more.
Nearly eight in ten New Jersey residents, 78%, disapprove of how the Republicans in Congress are handling health care. Even 59% of those who describe themselves as Republicans have this view. 14% of adults say they approve, and 7% are unsure.
66% of adults in New Jersey say they disapprove of the health care plan proposed by Senate Republicans. 15% approve, and 18% have either heard of the plan but are just unsure about it, 2%, or have not heard enough about it to form an opinion, 16%. Not surprisingly, 85% of Democrats are opposed to the proposal. There is less consensus among Republicans. 35% approve of the plan, 31% disapprove, and nearly one in three, 32%, have not heard enough about it to form an opinion.
If Congress is unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a plurality of New Jersey residents, 38%, think the Republicans in Congress are to blame. 19% point the finger at the Democrats in Congress, and 21% place the blame at Trump’s doorstep. 13% say each has played a contributory role in the failure, and 3% believe no one is at fault. Six percent are unsure.
When it comes to the dealings of President Trump and his campaign associates with Russia, more than six in ten think these interactions are not completely honorable. 62% of New Jersey residents believe Trump has either done something illegal, 29%, in his interactions with Russia or has done something unethical but not illegal, 33%. 30% believe Trump has done nothing wrong, and 8% are unsure.
66% of adults say that Trump’s campaign associates have either done something illegal, 37%, or unethical but not illegal, 29%, in their dealings with Russia. 27% think those in Trump’s inner circle have done nothing wrong, and 7% are unsure.