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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Gov. Christie Halts Ratings Slide

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

But few New Jerseyans see Mastro report as fair and unbiased

Public opinion of Chris Christie has stabilized after suffering a significant drop when the Bridgegate scandal broke in early January.  The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  found the governor's job approval rating hovering just above 50% - similar to his standing in February which had fallen by double digits since his re-election last year.  While a recent report contends that Gov. Christie had no involvement in the toll lane closures, the internal inquiry does not seem to be the cause behind his steadying job ratings.  In fact, most New Jerseyans say the investigation was conducted mainly to improve Christie's reputation and they actually disagree with many of the report's findings.

Currently, Gov. Christie's job rating stands at 51% approve to 41% disapprove among New Jersey residents and 51% approve to 43% disapprove among the state's registered voters.  His approval numbers are nominally, but not significantly, better than February, when they were 50% among all adults and 49% among registered voters.  They remain 14 points lower than December, before the Bridgegate scandal broke.

Christie receives solid approval from 84% of his fellow Republicans and majority support from 55% of independents.  Only 34% of Democrats approve of his job performance.  These findings are similar to the February Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll .

"The bleeding has stopped for now.  The poll was conducted after the Mastro report was released, but this does not seem to be the reason why Christie's ratings have stabilized.  In fact, few New Jerseyans agree with the report's conclusions," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Just over half (54%) of New Jerseyans have heard about the report released last week that detailed the findings of an investigation led by Randy Mastro of the Gibson Dunn & Crutcher law firm.  Few (30%) see it as a fair and unbiased investigation of the Governor's office involvement in the George Washington Bridge toll lane closings.  Instead, most (52%) say the report was done to help Chris Christie's reputation.

The report seems to conclude that two staff members in the Governor's office and at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were responsible for the closures.  Only 11% of the New Jersey public agree.  More than 3-in-4 (77%) say that others were involved.  This opinion is no different than when the Bridgegate emails first became public.  In January, 80% of New Jerseyans said more people were involved than the staffers who had been identified in the emails and fired by the governor.

The report also clears Gov. Christie of any wrongdoing, but the public verdict is not quite as conclusive.  Few New Jerseyans (32%) feel that the governor has been completely honest about what he knows of the incident.  Most (61%) say he has not come clean.  This opinion is unchanged from February.  In fact, more state residents believe that the governor himself was involved in the decision to close the lanes (47%) than believe he was not directly involved (38%).  The number who believe Christie was involved has declined slightly by 3 points since February, but remains significantly higher than the 34% who felt he was involved shortly after the news broke in January.

The report also dismisses the claims of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that she was told by members of the administration that her town would not get Sandy relief funding if the mayor withheld approval of an unrelated development project.  The New Jersey public, though, is not so certain.  In fact, more residents tend to believe (45%) rather than disbelieve (40%) the mayor's claims.  These results are not too different from the findings of February's poll when 49% believed the mayor.  Moreover, among those New Jerseyans who are familiar with the Mastro report's release, a majority of 53% actually believe the mayor compared to just 36% who do not.

The governor's job rating is lower among those who have been paying attention to the Bridgegate scandal than those who have not.   Among Garden State residents who have been paying a lot of attention, Chris Christie gets a 49% approve to 44% disapprove job rating.  Among those who know about the Mastro report, he earns a split 47% approve to 46% disapprove rating.  He does significantly better among those who have not heard about the report - 56% approve to 34% disapprove.

"Considering the governor does worse among those who know about the Mastro investigation, it's possible we could see a negative impact on Christie's rating as more New Jerseyans become aware of the report's contents," said Murray.

In other developments last week, Gov. Christie announced the resignation of David Samson, Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with the stated reason that Samson wanted to retire.  Only 19% of New Jerseyans believe that was really the motivation.  According to state residents, more probable reasons for Samson's resignation are that he was involved in either the toll lane or Hoboken issues (36%) or that he resigned as a way to take political pressure off Chris Christie (23%).  Overall, most New Jerseyans (56%) have no opinion of the Port Authority.  Those who do are twice as likely to hold an unfavorable (30%) rather than favorable (14%) view of the bi-state agency.

The poll also found that Chris Christie's personal ratings remain mixed.  Currently 40% have a favorable view of the governor as a person, 35% have an unfavorable view, and 25% are not sure how they feel about Christie as a person.  These numbers are similar to February.  Matching another finding from February, a majority (54%) of New Jerseyans say Gov. Christie puts his own political future first compared to just 35% who say is more concerned about governing his home state.  Prior to the Bridgegate scandal, more people saw Christie as putting New Jersey first.

In terms of Gov. Christie's political future, 62% of New Jerseyans say that the Bridgegate and Hoboken issues hurt his presidential prospects for 2016.  This number is up from 51% in January.  Also, state residents are split on how Christie affects New Jersey's image around the country - 29% say he helps, 33% say he hurts it, and 34% he makes no difference to the state's reputation.

The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from March 30 to April 1, 2014.  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 Asbury Park Press and its sister publications (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 Chris Christie is doing as governor?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Approve 51% 51% 55% 34% 55% 84% 56% 47% 49% 57% 47% 56%
Disapprove 41% 43% 28% 59% 36% 14% 38% 42% 44% 33% 46% 34%
(VOL) Don’t know 8% 6% 17% 8% 9% 2% 5% 11% 7% 9% 7% 9%

 

TREND:
All adults
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Dec.
2013
Sept.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
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
Approve 51% 50% 59% 65% 61% 63% 70% 67% 53% 52% 51% 52% 54% 48% 47% 47% 45% 44% 41% 33%
Disapprove 41% 44% 32% 25% 24% 26% 17% 21% 35% 36% 35% 38% 38% 42% 49% 40% 38% 44% 44% 15%
(VOL) Don’t know 8% 6% 8% 10% 15% 11% 14% 12% 11% 12% 14% 10% 9% 9% 5% 12% 17% 12% 15% 52%
Unwtd N

803

803 541 802 783 806 803 816 805 803 804 803 817 802 807 801 801 801 804

803

 

TREND:
Registered voters
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Dec.
2013
Sept.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
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
Approve 51% 49% 58% 65% 63% 65% 70% 69% 55% 53% 50% 55% 55% 50% 46% 49% 44% 45% 42% 31%
Disapprove 43% 46% 35% 27% 24% 26% 16% 22% 36% 35% 38% 37% 37% 41% 49% 41% 40% 43% 44% 15%
(VOL) Don’t know 6% 6% 7% 8% 13% 10% 13% 9% 10% 12% 12% 9% 8% 8% 5% 9% 16% 12% 13% 53%
Unwtd N

690

690 470 698 674 694 697 726 715 678 692 709 693 730 725 718 726 747 719

716

 

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

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

  Yes No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes No
Approve 40% 38% 47% 44% 37% 43% 42% 38% 38% 45% 36% 45%
Disapprove 43% 46% 30% 39% 48% 41% 46% 40% 46% 37% 50% 35%
(VOL) Don’t know 17% 15% 22% 17% 15% 16% 11% 22% 16% 18% 14% 20%

 

TREND:
Registered Voters
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Dec.
2013
Sept.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
Dec.
2012
Sept.
2012
July
2012
April
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
Approve 38% 38% 47% 44% 38% 41% 40% 43% 32% 34% 37% 34% 33% 35%
Disapprove 46% 47% 35% 38% 36% 42% 35% 34% 43% 45% 41% 42% 45% 48%
(VOL) Don’t know 15% 14% 18% 19% 27% 17% 25% 22% 25% 21% 23% 24% 22% 17%
Unwtd N

690

690 470 698 674 694 697 726 715 678 692 709 693

730

 

TREND: Registered
Voters Continued
May
2011
Feb.
2011
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
July
2009
Feb.
2009
Sept.
2008
July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Oct.
2007
Feb.
2007
Approve 32% 29% 25% 19% 24% 31% 23% 29% 27% 28% 25% 32% 34%
Disapprove 48% 45% 49% 57% 49% 48% 55% 50% 47% 55% 53% 43% 42%
(VOL) Don’t know 20% 26% 26% 24% 27% 22% 22% 21% 26% 17% 22% 25% 23%
Unwtd N

725

718 747 719 716 792 721 709 889 720 719 688

681

 

  1. Is your general impression of Chris Christie favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
TOTAL REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Favorable 40% 41% 35% 21% 42% 71% 43% 37% 39% 40% 42% 37%
Unfavorable 35% 37% 27% 46% 32% 18% 36% 34% 38% 28% 41% 28%
No opinion 25% 22% 38% 32% 25% 11% 21% 29% 22% 32% 16% 36%

 

TREND: April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Feb.
2013
Sept.
2012
Favorable 40% 42% 44% 70% 52%
Unfavorable 35% 37% 28% 19% 34%
No opinion 25% 21% 28% 11% 15%
Unwtd N

803

803 541 803

805

 

TREND: Registered
voters only
:
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Feb.
2013
Sept.
2012
Favorable 41% 43% 46% 71% 54%
Unfavorable 37% 39% 31% 18% 34%
No opinion 22% 18% 23% 10% 13%
Unwtd N

690

690 470 697

715

 

  1. 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]
 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Governing the state of NJ 35% 35% 31% 23% 35% 59% 37% 32% 34% 36% 35% 33%
His own political future 54% 54% 55% 70% 51% 34% 52% 57% 56% 50% 56% 52%
(VOL) Both equally 7% 7% 9% 5% 11% 4% 8% 7% 6% 10% 5% 10%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 4% 5% 3% 4% 3% 3% 5% 4% 4% 3% 4%

 

  TREND: April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Sept.
2013
Dec.
2012
Feb.
2012
Governing the state of NJ 35% 35% 42% 44% 61% 39%
His own political future 54% 56% 47% 38% 30% 48%
(VOL) Both equally 7% 5% 6% 12% 5% 6%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 4% 5% 6% 4% 7%
Unwtd N

803

803 541 783 816

803

 

  1. Thinking nationally, does Chris Christie help or hurt New Jersey’s image around the country, or does he make no difference to the state’s image?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

   

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Help 29% 29% 29% 17% 33% 47% 33% 26% 28% 31% 28% 31%
Hurt 33% 35% 28% 49% 28% 14% 30% 37% 36% 27% 39% 26%
No difference 34% 33% 37% 31% 35% 37% 34% 33% 33% 36% 31% 37%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 3% 6% 3% 4% 2% 3% 4% 2% 6% 2% 6%

 

  TREND: April
2014
Jan.
2014
July
2012
Help 29% 36% 41%
Hurt 33% 21% 29%
No difference 34% 40% 25%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 3% 5%
Unwtd N

803

541

803

 

  1. How much have you read or heard about issues surrounding George Washington Bridge toll lane closures in Fort Lee last year – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

  Yes No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes No
A lot 69% 72% 56% 76% 62% 73% 69% 68% 100% 0% 86% 48%
A little 24% 22% 33% 18% 29% 23% 22% 26% 0% 77% 13% 36%
Nothing at all 7% 6% 11% 6% 10% 4% 9% 6% 0% 23% 1% 15%

 

TREND: April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
A lot 69% 67% 53%
A little 24% 25% 30%
Nothing at all 7% 8% 17%

Unwtd N

803 803

541

 

[Note: In prior polls, Questions 7 & 8 were only asked of those who had heard at least a little about Bridgegate.  Since the number who know nothing of Bridgegate is now insignificant, those questions were asked of the full sample in the current poll.]

 

  1. Do you think the governor himself was or was not personally involved in the decision to close the toll lanes?
 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Was involved 47% 47% 48% 62% 44% 22% 47% 47% 48% 45% 49% 45%
Was not involved 38% 39% 36% 23% 38% 72% 41% 36% 40% 34% 40% 36%
(VOL) Don’t know 15% 14% 16% 14% 19% 6% 12% 17% 12% 21% 11% 19%

 

TREND: April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Was involved 47% 50% 34%
Was not involved 38% 40% 52%
(VOL) Don’t know 15% 10% 14%
Unwtd N

803

751

474

 

  1. Based on what you have read or heard so far, do you believe Chris Christie has been completely honest about what he knows about the incident, or not?
 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Been completely honest 32% 32% 32% 19% 32% 58% 33% 30% 33% 29% 32% 31%
Not been completely honest 61% 62% 60% 76% 58% 40% 60% 63% 63% 57% 64% 59%
(VOL) Don’t know 7% 6% 8% 5% 10% 2% 7% 7% 3% 14% 4% 10%

 

 TREND: April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Been completely honest 32% 33% 40%
Not been completely honest 61% 61% 51%
(VOL) Don’t know 7% 5% 9%
Unwtd N

803

751

474

 

  1. A recent report conducted for the Governor’s office by an outside law firm concluded that one person in the governor’s office and one person in the Port Authority were responsible for the lane closures. Do you think these were the only staff members involved in the decision to close the toll lanes or were others involved?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Were the only staff members involved 11% 12% 9% 9% 10% 17% 12% 10% 12% 10% 12% 10%
Others were involved 77% 78% 74% 81% 78% 72% 78% 76% 79% 75% 80% 74%
(VOL) Don’t know 12% 10% 17% 10% 12% 11% 9% 14% 10% 15% 8% 16%

 

  1. Have you read or heard anything about this report conducted for the Governor’s office, or not?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER

AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

 

Yes No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot

Little/
None

Yes 54% 59% 34% 54% 50% 67% 53% 56% 68% 25%
No 45% 40% 66% 46% 50% 32% 47% 44% 32% 75%
(VOL) Don’t know 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0%

 

  1. Do you think this report was a fair and unbiased investigation of the Governor’s office involvement in the toll lane closings or was it done to help Chris Christie’s reputation?
 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Fair and unbiased
investigation
30% 28% 35% 25% 25% 49% 29% 31% 30% 28% 31% 28%
To help Chris Christie’s
reputation
52% 55% 41% 61% 54% 34% 54% 51% 55% 46% 59% 44%
(VOL) Don’t know 18% 17% 24% 14% 21% 17% 17% 19% 14% 26% 10% 29%

 

  1. The mayor of Hoboken claims that members of the Christie administration told her that the town would not get Sandy relief funding if the mayor did not approve an unrelated development project. Do you tend to believe or not believe the mayor’s claim?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Believe 45% 47% 40% 60% 41% 27% 42% 48% 48% 41% 53% 37%
Not believe 40% 39% 43% 27% 41% 65% 45% 36% 40% 40% 36% 45%
(VOL) Don’t know 14% 14% 17% 12% 18% 7% 13% 16% 12% 19% 11% 18%

 

 TREND: April
2014
Feb.
2014
Believe 45% 49%
Not believe 40% 40%
(VOL) Don’t know 14% 11%
Unwtd N

803

803

 

  1. Do you think these issues will hurt Governor Christie’s chances of running for president in 2016, or not?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Will hurt 62% 60% 70% 70% 61% 51% 62% 62% 64% 58% 61% 63%
Will not hurt 33% 36% 21% 27% 32% 47% 33% 32% 32% 35% 34% 31%
(VOL) Had no plans to run 2% 1% 3% 1% 2% 1% 1% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 3% 7% 2% 5% 1% 4% 4% 3% 5% 4% 3%

 

  TREND: April
2014
Jan.
2014
Will hurt 62% 51%
Will not hurt 33% 43%
(VOL) Had no plans to run 2% 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 5%
Unwtd N

803

474

 

  1. And, is your general impression of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of it?

TOTAL

REGISTERED VOTER PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF LANE CLOSURES

AWARE OF REPORT

 

Yes No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Favorable 14% 14% 15% 13% 14% 17% 15% 13% 12% 18% 13% 16%
Unfavorable 30% 33% 17% 27% 32% 31% 36% 24% 37% 14% 42% 16%
No opinion 56% 53% 68% 60% 53% 52% 49% 64% 50% 68% 46% 69%

 

  1. Have you heard that David Samson, the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, resigned last week, or not?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

  Yes No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Yes 51% 56% 29% 54% 47% 56% 51% 50% 62% 26% 69% 29%
No 48% 43% 69% 44% 52% 44% 47% 49% 36% 73% 30% 69%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 2% 2% 1% 0% 2% 1% 1% 2% 1% 2%

 

  1. Which of the following is the most likely reason you think he resigned: because he was involved in the toll lane or Hoboken incidents, or because he wanted to help take the pressure off Chris Christie, or because he was ready to retire?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID GENDER AWARE OF
LANE
CLOSURES

AWARE OF
REPORT

 

Yes No Dem Ind Rep Male Female Lot Little/
None
Yes

No

Involved in toll lane/Hoboken 36% 36% 38% 40% 37% 30% 33% 39% 39% 31% 39% 33%
Take pressure off Christie 23% 22% 25% 27% 21% 21% 28% 17% 25% 17% 26% 18%
Ready to retire 19% 20% 14% 15% 18% 29% 19% 19% 14% 29% 14% 25%
(VOL) None of these 4% 4% 5% 4% 4% 5% 3% 4% 4% 3% 4% 4%
(VOL) All of these 3% 3% 3% 5% 3% 2% 3% 4% 4% 1% 4% 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 15% 15% 15% 9% 18% 14% 14% 16% 14% 18% 13% 18%

 

The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 30 to April 1, 2014 with a statewide random sample of 803 adult residents, including 601 contacted via live interview on a landline telephone and 202 via live interview on a cell phone.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis.  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.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

38% Dem 49% Male 28% 18-34

63% White

43% Ind 51% Female 40% 35-54

13% Black

19% Rep   32% 55+

15% Hispanic

     

      9% Asian/Other

Registered Voter Sample (weighted)

38% Dem 49% Male 22% 18-34

68% White

41% Ind 51% Female 42% 35-54

12% Black

21% Rep   36% 55+

15% Hispanic

     

      5% Asian/Other

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 that 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

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