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Choice Words for “Beachgate”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Most think state is now worse off because of Gov. Christie

West Long Branch, NJ – The past few weeks have been no day at the beach for New Jersey’s governor… except for that day at the beach, of course. The latest Monmouth University Poll finds Chris Christie’s job rating at an all-time low, although he avoids the ignominy of single-digit approval. Christie’s behavior during the recent state shutdown did him no favors among his Garden State constituents, with two-thirds expressing negative views about his day at the shore. A majority of the public feels that New Jersey is worse off now because of Christie’s time in office.

Currently, just 15% of New Jersey adults approve of the job Christie is doing as governor while 80% disapprove. Only 30% of Christie’s fellow Republicans give positive marks to his job performance, joining just 15% of independents and only 7% of Democrats who feel the same. Both the state legislature – 23% approve and 61% disapprove – and Pres. Donald Trump – 35% approve and 58% disapprove – garner better ratings than Christie. Monmouth’s prior Christie rating was taken just over a year ago (27% approve and 63% disapprove in May 2016).

“It really is difficult to drive approval ratings into the single digits barring something like a criminal conviction. However, you have to admire Christie’s seeming tenacity for trying to get his numbers down to that level,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “In reality, Christie may have found the floor for his ratings, but it’s a level where most of his constituents now feel his time on office has hurt the state.”

The poll found that a majority of Garden State residents (55%) feel the state is actually worse off because of Christie’s time as governor. This marks a significant increase from a year ago when 41% felt this way. Just 15% say the state is better off today because of Christie’s tenure and 28% say it is about the same as it was before he took office.

When asked to assign blame for this month’s government shutdown, most New Jerseyans (54%) actually find the governor and the state legislature equally at fault for the budget standoff. Another 28% put more of the blame on Christie and 14% put more of the blame on the legislature. On the other hand, Christie’s R&R on a state beach that was closed to the public received decidedly negative reviews from the overwhelming majority of Garden State residents.

Fully 86% have seen the photos of Christie sitting on the beach with his family during the government shutdown. When asked to describe how those images made them feel, two-thirds of the public expressed a negative sentiment, with “disgusted” (7%) being the most commonly used word. Anger (7%) and disbelief (6%) were also frequently mentioned themes. Nearly 1-in-5 residents described their reaction in terms of the governor’s character, using words such as “selfish” (5%), “hypocrite” (4%), and “arrogant” (3%). Another 6% of those polled simply used some form of profanity to express their sentiments about Christie’s beach day. Fewer than 1-in-10 New Jerseyans have anything positive to say or even report not being bothered by the incident in any way.

“This is New Jerseyans telling it like it is, but the governor has said that he basically doesn’t care what they think. This just confirms what most of his constituents have suspected for the past three years,” said Murray.

About 8-in-10 Garden State residents (79%) feel that Christie puts his own political future before the good of the state. Just 14% say he is more concerned with governing New Jersey. These results are basically in line with public opinion over the past two years.

Specifically on the state budget stalemate, two-thirds of New Jerseyans (66%) were aware that the shutdown was caused by disagreement over a proposal to change how the Horizon Blue Cross health insurance provider operates. Overall, only 16% of the public are inclined to believe the official line that this legislation was motivated by a desire to make Horizon more transparent. Most (54%) think it was probably driven by some sort of political payback against the insurer. Among those who were already aware that Horizon was at the center of the budget impasse, just 18% say the proposal was about transparency and fully 63% say it was about political payback.

“Neither the governor nor the bill’s legislative sponsors made a persuasive case about why this bill was necessary, especially to Horizon subscribers who are largely satisfied with their insurance provider,” said Murray.

More than 8-in-10 New Jerseyans report being satisfied with their current health insurance provider. This includes 90% of Horizon subscribers – 48% very satisfied and 42% somewhat satisfied – and 84% of those who hold policies with other providers – 48% very satisfied and 36% somewhat satisfied.

The Monmouth University Poll also measured public opinion of New Jersey’s two U.S. senators. Cory Booker earns a 49% approve and 30% disapprove rating. Bob Menendez, who is currently under indictment, earns a 41% approve and 35% disapprove rating. Both senators’ ratings are largely within the range of where they have been for the past two years, although Booker’s “disapprove” number has gone up as he has become better known within the state.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from July 6 to 9, 2017 with 800 New Jersey adults. The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1 held for future release.]

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Chris Christie is doing as governor?

TREND: All adults
Second term

July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Dec.
2013
Sept.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
Approve15%27%36%35%48%46%50%51%50%59%65%61%63%70%
Disapprove80%63%58%54%44%39%42%41%44%32%25%24%26%17%
(VOL) Don’t know5%10%6%11%8%15%9%8%6%8%10%15%11%14%
(n)(800)(806)(503)(500)(805)(802)(800)(803)(803)(541)(802)(783)(806)(803)

TREND: All adults
First term

Dec.
2012
Sept.
2012
July
2012
April
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
May
2011
Feb.
2011
Sept.
2010
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve67%53%52%51%52%54%48%47%47%45%44%41%33%
Disapprove21%35%36%35%38%38%42%49%40%38%44%44%15%
(VOL) Don’t know12%11%12%14%10%9%9%5%12%17%12%15%52%
(n)(816)(805)(803)(804)(803)(817)(802)(807)(801)(801)(801)(804)(803)
TREND: Registered voters
Second term
July
2017
May
2016
July.
2015
May.
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Dec.
2013
Sept.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
Approve15%26%34%35%47%46%49%51%49%58%65%63%65%70%
Disapprove80%65%60%56%46%42%43%43%46%35%27%24%26%16%
(VOL) Don’t know4%8%6%9%6%12%8%6%6%7%8%13%10%13%
(n)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(470)(698)(674)(694)(697)
TREND: Registered voters First termDec.

2012

Sept.

2012

July

2012

April

2012

Feb.

2012

Oct.

2011

Aug.

2011

May

2011

Feb.

2011

Sept.

2010

July

2010

April

2010

Feb.

2010

Approve69%55%53%50%55%55%50%46%49%44%45%42%31%
Disapprove22%36%35%38%37%37%41%49%41%40%43%44%15%
(VOL) Don’t know9%10%12%12%9%8%8%5%9%16%12%13%53%
(n)(726)(715)(678)(692)(709)(693)(730)(725)(718)(726)(747)(719)(716)

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the state legislature is doing?

All adults July
2017
Approve23%
Disapprove61%
(VOL) Don’t know16%
(n)(800)
TREND: Registered votersJuly
2017
May
2016
July.
2015
May.
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Dec.
2013
Sept.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
Approve23%29%32%33%37%35%36%38%38%47%44%38%41%40%
Disapprove62%53%51%48%46%46%48%46%47%35%38%36%42%35%
(VOL) Don’t know15%19%17%19%17%19%17%15%14%18%19%27%17%25%
(n)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(470)(698)(674)(694)(697)
TREND: Registered voters Dec.
2012
Sept.
2012
July
2012
April
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
May
2011
Feb.
2011
Sept.
2010
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve69%55%53%50%55%55%50%46%49%44%45%42%31%
Disapprove22%36%35%38%37%37%41%49%41%40%43%44%15%
(VOL) Don’t know9%10%12%12%9%8%8%5%9%16%12%13%53%
(n)(726)(715)(678)(692)(709)(693)(730)(725)(718)(726)(747)(719)(716)
TREND: Registered voters July
2009
Feb.
2009
Sept.
2008
July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Oct.
2007
Feb.
2007
Approve31%23%29%27%28%25%32%34%
Disapprove48%55%50%47%55%53%43%42%
(VOL) Don’t know22%22%21%26%17%22%25%23%
(n)(792)(721)(709)(889)(720)(719)(688)(681)

4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?

All adultsJuly
2017
Approve35%
Disapprove58%
(VOL) Don’t know6%
(n)(800)

[QUESTIONS 5 & 6 WERE ROTATED]

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bob Menendez is doing as United States Senator?

All adultsJuly
2017
Approve41%
Disapprove35%
(VOL) Don’t know24%
(n)(800)
TREND: Registered
voters
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
Approve41%41%38%42%49%45%47%51%49%47%44%41%
Disapprove35%31%38%38%27%30%34%31%30%27%38%31%
(VOL) Don’t know23%28%23%20%24%26%19%18%21%26%18%28%
(n)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(698)(694)(697)
TREND: Registered
voters
continued
April
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
May
2011
July
2010
Oct.
2008
April
2008
Jan.
2008
Approve40%41%43%38%46%38%34%41%37%
Disapprove25%26%29%33%28%33%25%31%25%
(VOL) Don’t know35%33%28%29%26%29%41%28%37%
(n)(692)(709)(693)(730)(725)(747)(900)(720)(698)

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Cory Booker is doing as United States Senator?

All adultsJuly
2017
Approve49%
Disapprove30%
(VOL) Don’t know20%
(n)(800)
TREND: Registered
voters
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
Approve50%53%45%51%51%42%48%47%47%37%
Disapprove31%21%24%21%21%23%25%23%20%21%
(VOL) Don’t know20%27%31%27%27%35%27%30%32%43%
(n)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(698)

[Q7 held for future release.]

8. Do you think Chris Christie is more concerned with governing the state of New Jersey OR more concerned about his own political future? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]

TREND: All adultsJuly
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June2014April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Sept.
2013
Dec.
2012
Feb.
2012
Governing the state of NJ14%13%17%16%25%33%32%35%35%42%44%61%39%
His own political future79%79%76%70%66%56%55%54%56%47%38%30%48%
(VOL) Both equally2%3%4%8%5%5%7%7%5%6%12%5%6%
(VOL) Don’t know4%5%4%6%4%7%6%4%4%5%6%4%7%
(n)(800)(806)(503)(500)(805)(802)(800)(803)(803)(541)(783)(816)(803)

9. Do you think New Jersey is currently better off or worse off because of Christie’s time as governor, or is it about the same as it was before he took office?

TREND: All adultsJuly
2017
May
2016
Better off15%21%
Worse off55%41%
About the same28%34%
(VOL) Don’t know2%4%
(n)(800)(806)

10. Were you aware that New Jersey state offices and services shut down for three days because the governor and legislature could not reach a budget deal, or didn’t you hear about the state shutdown?

All adultsJuly 2017
Aware95%
Didn’t hear5%
(n)(800)

11. Who is more to blame for this shutdown – Governor Christie or the state legislature – or are both equally to blame?

All adultsJuly
2017
Gov. Christie28%
State legislature14%
Both equally54%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
(n)(800)

12. The shutdown was caused by a disagreement over proposed legislation to change how the Horizon Blue Cross health insurance provider operates in the state. Were you aware or not aware of this proposal?

All adultsJuly
2017
Aware66%
Not aware34%
(n)(800)

13. Do you think this proposal was more about making Horizon’s operations more transparent or was it more about getting some type of political payback against Horizon?

All adultsJuly
2017
More transparent16%
Political payback54%
(VOL) Don’t know30%
(n)(800)

14. Have you seen the pictures of Chris Christie sitting on a state park beach that was closed to the public during the shutdown, or have you not seen these pictures?

All adultsJuly
2017
Yes, seen86%
No, not seen14%
(n)(800)

15. What is the first word that comes to mind to describe how you felt when you saw those pictures? [VERBATIM ANSWERS WERE RECORDED]

All adultsJuly
2017
Disgusted7%
Angry, outraged7%
Disappointed4%
Unbelievable, surprised, ridiculous6%
Disgraceful, horrible2%
Embarrassed1%
Sad, upset, confused2%
Jerk, profanity used6%
Selfish, disregard5%
Entitled2%
Arrogant3%
Hypocrite4%
Typical, not surprised3%
Takes nerve, guts1%
Unfair, taken advantage of4%
Stupid, idiot, dumb move4%
Doesn’t care anymore, bad governor2%
Other negative comment2%
Physical appearance3%
Laughed, amused2%
Fake news, upset with media1%
Not bothered6%
His right, good for him2%
Other general comment2%
No response4%
Not seen pictures [Q14]14%
(n)(800)

[Q16-25 held for future release.]

26. Are you currently covered by any form of health insurance or health plan or do you not have health insurance at this time? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with your main health insurance provider?

All adultsJuly
2017
Very satisfied44%
Somewhat satisfied36%
Somewhat dissatisfied8%
Very dissatisfied4%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
No coverage [Q26]6%
(n)(800)

28. Do you currently get your main health insurance through Horizon Blue Cross or through some other provider?

All adultsJuly
2017
Horizon Blue Cross39%
Some other provider54%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
No coverage [Q26]6%
(n)(800)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from July 6 to 9, 2017 with a random sample of 800 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 493 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 307 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

Self-Reported

20% Republican
41% Independent
39% Democrat
48% Male
52% Female
27% 18-34
36% 35-54
37% 55+
62% White
13% Black
17% Hispanic

9% Asian/Other

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables