The latest Monmouth University/NJ Press Media poll found Gov. Chris Christie earned a 51 percent approval rating, down five points from the fall. Patrick Murray, founding director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, sat down with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss the poll findings.
Murray said “a shift in the political winds” could be to blame for the dip in Christie’s approval rating. Since his time in the national spotlight has diminished somewhat, Murray said “we’ve had issues where the governor has been able to ride out in the past which are coming back to haunt him.”
There is a greater gender gap in the recent poll as well. Murray said 59 percent of men approve of Christie while just 42 percent of women do. Murray also said households with public workers are now split instead of the traditional clear majority disapproving of the governor.
The poll asks respondents to grade the governor from A to F on a variety of subjects. “This is the first time he’s gotten more As and Bs than he’s gotten Ds or Fs from voters in New Jersey,” Murray said. “I think there’s an indication there that something’s going on, that he’s making some improvement.”
Christie scored the best grades on controlling costs and cutting waste. His grades improved on property taxes, but they still weren’t good. “At the end of the day, people turn back to the number one issue in New Jersey and that has consistently been property taxes during the governor’s term,” Murray said. “And the people of New Jersey just feel he hasn’t yet delivered on that promise of tax relief.”
On the topic of the ARC tunnel, nearly half the respondents didn’t have an opinion while those who did were split. “Those who paid attention to it say [Christie] probably did overstate the costs that were involved in that,” Murray said. “And I think those are some of the things that are coming back to affect the governor.”
The proposed Rutgers-Rowan merger draw more opposition in the most recent poll than in the past, Murray explained. Twenty percent of respondents approved of the merger while 36 percent opposed it. The disapproval number increased “particularly in South Jersey where people are now trying to view this as not just an ill-thought-out merger plan but as something done specifically to benefit powerful political interests and that’s the key and that’s why I think this is an issue the governor needs to look at,” Murray said.