Skip to main content
Monmouth University Polling Institute

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?

15%     Approve

80%     Disapprove

  5%     (VOL) Don't know

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

23%     Approve

61%     Disapprove

16%     (VOL) Don't know

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

35%     Approve

58%     Disapprove

  6%     (VOL) Don't know


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

41%     Approve

35%     Disapprove

24%     (VOL) Don't know

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

49%     Approve

30%     Disapprove

20%     (VOL) Don't know


[ 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 ]

14%     Governing the state of NJ

79%     His own political future

  2%     (VOL) Both equally

  4%     (VOL) Don't know

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?

15%     Better off

55%     Worse off

28%     About the same

  2%     (VOL) Don't know

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?  

95%     Aware

  5%     Didn't hear

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

28%     Gov. Christie

14%     State legislature

54%     Both equally

  3%     (VOL) Don't know

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?

66%     Aware

34%     Not aware

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?

16%     More transparent

54%     Political payback

30%     (VOL) Don't know

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?  

86%     Yes, seen

14%     No, not seen

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

  7%     Disgusted

  7%     Angry, outraged

  4%     Disappointed

  6%     Unbelievable, surprised, ridiculous

  2%     Disgraceful, horrible

  1%     Embarrassed

  2%     Sad, upset, confused

  6%     Jerk, profanity used

  5%     Selfish, disregard

  2%     Entitled

  3%     Arrogant

  4%     Hypocrite

  3%     Typical, not surprised

  1%     Takes nerve, guts

  4%     Unfair, taken advantage of

  4%     Stupid, idiot, dumb move

  2%     Doesn't care anymore, bad governor

  2%     Other negative comment

  3%     Physical appearance

  2%     Laughed, amused

  1%     Fake news, upset with media

  6%     Not bothered

  2%     His right, good for him

  2%     Other general comment

  4%     No response

14%     Not seen pictures [Q14]

[ 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?

27.      Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with your main health insurance provider?

44%     Very satisfied

36%     Somewhat satisfied

  8%     Somewhat dissatisfied

  4%     Very dissatisfied

  1%     (VOL) Don't know

  6%     No coverage [Q26]

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

39%     Horizon Blue Cross

54%     Some other provider

  1%     (VOL) Don't know

  6%     No coverage [Q26]



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.

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

Download this Poll Report with all tables

Get Poll Reports in Your Inbox

If you would like to join our mailing list and receive the latest poll results the day they are released, please enter your contact information in the fields below.

Would you like to submit a question or comment?


Any Questions?

Thank You!

Your email has been submitted to our mailing list. You will receive an email to receive future polls the day they are released.

- Monmouth University Polling Institute