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Corzine Report Card: Approvals Drop

Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009

Nearly 3-in-4 say New Jersey is on the wrong track


Governor Jon Corzine’s brief flirtation with positive job performance ratings last month has ended, according to the latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll.  His semi-annual report card continues to average a “C-” from the New Jersey public, while his grades for cutting waste and his level of effort have declined.

Currently, only 34% of all New Jersey adults approve of how their governor is handling his job, compared to 48% who disapprove.  Among registered voters, his ratings stand at 34% approve to 51% disapprove. Just last month, slightly more voters approved (43%) than disapproved (40%) of the Jon Corzine’s performance.  The governor’s current 34% approval number marks a return to the low public ratings he held last spring.

Governor Corzine has net positive job ratings only among his fellow Democrats – 49% approve to 32% disapprove.  He receives poor ratings from majorities of both independents (55% disapprove to 27% approve) and Republicans (69% disapprove to 19% approve).

While negative, the governor’s rating remains slightly better than the state legislature’s.  Only 25% of New Jerseyans approve of the job their legislature is doing, while 52% disapprove.

The poll also found that nearly 3-in-4 (72%) residents believe the state is generally on the wrong track.  Only 21% say it is going in the right direction.  The 72% “wrong track” number is the highest recorded by the Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll since Governor Corzine took office.

“The public is looking for strong leadership in this volatile time, but they are unsure of Jon Corzine’s hand on the tiller,” commented Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  “Independent voters, a critical group for the governor’s re-election prospects, have become particularly doubtful over the past few months.”

When asked to grade Corzine on a number of key issues that formed the basis of his 2005 campaign for governor, the public continues to give him low C’s and D’s.  His overall average grade continues to be a low “C-”.  Broken down by partisanship, he averages a “C” among Democrats and a “D+” among Republicans, which are identical to the grades he received in the last report card issued in July 2008.  He also receives a “D+” average from independents, which is down from a “C-” in the last report card.

Jon Corzine, Governor

Semi-Annual Report Card

 

Feb.
2009

Prior Grades

Subject

 July
2008

Jan
2008

July
2007

Sept
2006

April
2006

Cost-Cutting

  D+

 C-

 C-

C-

C-

C-

Property Taxes

  D+

  D+

 C-

C-

 D+

 D+

Government Ethics

   C-

   C-

  C

 C

 C

 C

Cost of Living

 D

D

D

 D+

 D+

 D+

Schools

 C

  C

  C

 C

 C

 C

Level of Effort

 C

  C+

  C+

B-

B-

 C+

Overall grade

 C-

 C-

 C-

C

C

C-

According to state residents, Governor Corzine’s performance is below average on providing property tax relief (D+) and making New Jersey a more affordable place to live (D), both of which were key themes in his 2005 campaign.  He also averages a D+ for controlling costs and cutting waste, which is down a half grade from July.

The governor averages a C- for bringing ethics and honesty back to state government.  He scores a C for improving our schools and for the level of effort he puts into working for New Jersey.  Corzine’s level of effort average has dropped a half grade since July.

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from February 2 to 8, 2009.  This sample has a margin of error of ± 3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Gannett New Jersey newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

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

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Jon Corzine is doing as governor?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

Dem

Ind

Rep

Approve 34% 34% 49% 27% 19%
Disapprove 48% 51% 32% 55% 69%
(VOL) Don’t know 18% 15% 18% 19% 12%
  Unwtd N  

803

721 261 309

178

TREND: All Adults

Feb.
2009

Jan.
2009
Oct.
2008
Sept.
2008
July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Jan.
2008
Oct.
2007
July
2007
April
2007
Feb.
2007
Sept.
2006
July
2006

April
2006

Approve 34%

n/a

n/a

40% 39% 34% 37% 40% 46% 46% 51% 44% 42% 37% 34%
Disapprove 48%

n/a

n/a

46% 46% 52% 52% 44% 32% 36% 29% 34% 38% 43% 37%
(VOL) Don’t know 18%

n/a

n/a

15% 16% 14% 11% 16% 22% 18% 20% 22% 20% 20% 29%
Unwtd N

803

n/a n/a 808 1004 803 805 804 801 800 804 801 800 802

803

TREND:
Registered voters only

Feb.
2009

Jan.
2009
Oct.
2008
Sept.
2008
July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Jan.
2008
Oct.
2007
July
2007
April
2007
Feb.
2007
Sept.
2006
July
2006

April
2006

Approve 34% 43% 38% 40% 39% 36% 34% 42% 47% 46% 52% 44% 44% 40% 33%
Disapprove 51% 40% 45% 49% 47% 53% 55% 46% 34% 36% 30% 36% 41% 41% 38%
(VOL) Don’t know 15% 17% 18% 11% 14% 11% 11% 12% 19% 17% 17% 20% 16% 19% 29%
Unwtd N 721 413 900 709 889 720 719 698 688 678 668 681 663 670 652
  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the state legislature is doing?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

Dem

Ind

Rep

Approve 25% 23% 33% 19% 18%
Disapprove 52% 55% 40% 59% 69%
(VOL) Don’t know 23% 22% 27% 23% 14%
  Unwtd N  

803

721 261 309

178

 

  TREND:  All Adults

Feb.
2009

July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Oct.
2007

Feb.
2007

  Approve 25% 27% 29% 28% 33% 35%
  Disapprove 52% 45% 53% 50% 41% 40%
  (VOL) Don’t know 23% 28% 18% 22% 26% 25%
  Unwtd N

803

1004 803 805 801

801

 

  1. Would you say things in New Jersey are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

Dem

Ind

Rep

Right direction 21%

18%

28% 12% 14%
Wrong track 72%

74%

63% 81% 83%
(VOL) Depends 3%

4%

5% 4% 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%

4%

5% 3% 1%
  Unwtd N  

803

721 261 309

178

 

 TREND: All Adults

Feb.
2009

Sept.
2008
July
2007
April
2007
Feb.
2007
Sept.
2006
July
2006
April
2006

Sept.
2005

  Right direction 21% 26% 39% 33% 34% 29% 27% 30% 31%
  Wrong track 72% 64% 50% 51% 55% 58% 62% 55% 54%
  (VOL) Depends 3% 4% 6% 8% 6% 6% 4% 9% 5%
  (VOL) Don’t know 4% 6% 6% 8% 6% 7% 7% 6% 10%
  Unwtd N

803

808 800 804 801 800 802 803

800

  1. I’d like you to grade the Corzine administration on how it has handled specific issues. For each one I read, please give a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F for failing.  What grade would you give the Corzine administration for … ?

Controlling costs and cutting waste

TREND:

Feb.
2009

July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade 4% 6% 6% 7% 7% 5%
B 16% 17% 19% 21% 19% 20%
C 29% 25% 29% 31% 31% 29%
D 19% 15% 15% 15% 13% 14%
F – Failing grade 28% 28% 24% 20% 21% 20%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 9% 7% 6% 9% 13%
Unwtd N

803

1004 804 800 800

803

Providing property tax relief

TREND:

Feb.
2009

July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade 5%   7%   6%   8%   5%   5%
B 10% 12% 18% 20% 15% 12%
C 26% 25% 28% 24% 25% 21%
D 20% 21% 14% 16% 14% 15%
F – Failing grade 35% 28% 28% 26% 31% 35%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%   7%   5%   6%   9% 13%
Unwtd N

803

1004 804 800 800

803

Bringing ethics and honesty back to state government

TREND:

Feb.
2009

July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade 6%   7% 10%   8% 11%   8%
B 18% 19% 25% 26% 25% 27%
C 30% 28% 28% 28% 28% 24%
D 18% 16% 11% 15% 13% 12%
F – Failing grade 24% 22% 20% 18% 15% 17%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%   7%   6%   5%   7% 11%
Unwtd N

803

1004 804 800 800

803

Making New Jersey a more affordable place to live

TREND: Feb.
2009
July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006
April
2006
A – Highest grade 5% 4% 5% 7% 7% 5%
B 9% 10% 10% 16% 10% 10%
C 18% 24% 20% 20% 24% 23%
D 20% 17% 18% 21% 17% 14%
F – Failing grade 45% 41% 44% 33% 38% 40%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 5% 2% 3% 3% 9%
Unwtd N

803

1004 804 800 800

803

Improving our schools

TREND:

Feb.
2009

July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade 8% 9% 6% 7% 10% 8%
B 18% 19% 25% 26% 21% 19%
C 34% 31% 28% 31% 30% 28%
D 15% 15% 14% 12% 15% 14%
F – Failing grade 17% 15% 18% 14% 12% 16%
(VOL) Don’t know 8% 11% 9% 10% 13% 15%
Unwtd N

803

1004 804 800 800

803

  1. What grade would you give the governor for the level of effort he puts into working for New Jersey?
TREND:

Feb.
2009

July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade 12% 17% 18% 18% 22% 16%
B 26% 26% 30% 33% 28% 26%
C 28% 26% 27% 27% 27% 29%
D 14% 9% 9% 9% 9% 11%
F – Failing grade 15% 15% 12% 9% 8% 11%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 5% 4% 4% 5% 8%
Unwtd N

803

1004 804 800 800

803

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll was conducted and analyzed by the Monmouth University Polling Institute research staff.  The telephone interviews were collected by Braun Research on February 2-8, 2009 with a statewide random sample of 803 adult residents.  For results based on the total 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.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  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.

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues which affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

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

Download this Poll Report with all tables