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Murphy Starts Second Term With Positive Ratings

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Poll shows continued weakness around property taxes
and ambivalence toward a possible presidential bid

West Long Branch, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy earns a majority job approval rating from New Jerseyans, just months after this number dipped to just above 50% during his reelection campaign. At the same time, though, the latest Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll also finds that 1 in 4 residents say Murphy still has no real accomplishments to point to. This compares to 1 in 10 who said the same about his predecessor. The impact of Murphy’s policies on property tax payers and the middle class in general remain specific weak spots for him. Most of his constituents feel Murphy would not make a good president, but less than half believe he harbors White House ambitions.

Murphy holds a 55% approve and 35% disapprove rating from all New Jersey adults for the overall job he is doing as governor. His current approval rating of 57% among registered voters is up from 52% shortly before the November election last year and marks a return to the level of his job rating last spring (57% in May 2021). The governor’s approval topped 70% a year before that, just as the Covid pandemic started to spread.  Murphy gets positive ratings from 86% of Democrats, 51% of independents, and 17% of Republicans, which is similar to the partisan divide in public opinion one year ago.

“Murphy got a bit of a scare from voters who took part in last year’s election, but he appears to have recovered a bit as far as all his constituents are concerned,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The public is divided on whether Murphy is more concerned with governing the state (45%) or more concerned about his own political future (45%). The governor’s numbers on this question were slightly more positive last year, but the current results remain an improvement from three years ago, when more New Jerseyans saw Murphy as being primarily concerned about his political future than the state he governed. Murphy is also doing much better than his predecessor on this metric. At the same point in Chris Christie’s second term, just 35% of the public said he was more concerned about governing New Jersey while a majority (54%) said he was more focused on his political future. Christie was reelected by a large majority in 2013, but was hit by the Bridgegate scandal when this poll was taken. 

One-third of New Jerseyans (33%) say Phil Murphy helps the state’s image around the country and one-quarter (24%) say he hurts New Jersey’s image, while 40% say the governor makes no difference. At the same point in Christie’s term, 29% said he helped New Jersey’s national image, 33% said he hurt it, and 34% said he made no difference.

“The public does not see Murphy as being as ambitious as Christie was. Some political observers say that isn’t true, but he doesn’t wear those ambitions on his sleeve like his predecessor did. Of course, Christie was much more of a media magnet, which heightened speculation about him,” said Murray.

Fewer than 4 in 10 New Jersey residents  believe that Murphy is planning to run for president someday (5% say he definitely is and 32% say probably). This contrasts with Christie. A solid majority of New Jersey voters thought the Republican had his eye on the White House while he was running for reelection as governor.

Despite the public’s current positive ratings of the job Murphy is doing as governor, most (56%) say he would not make a good president. Just 33% say he is presidential material. This is certainly not a ringing endorsement, but it is still better than views of Christie in his second term. In 2015, more than 2 in 3 of his then-constituents said Christie would not make a good president.

Three in 10 New Jerseyans (30%) say Murphy has garnered major accomplishments during his time as governor and 42% say he has minor accomplishments. Another 25%, though, say he has no real accomplishments to point to. These numbers are similar to a Monmouth poll taken one year ago. Going back nine years to the prior incumbent, 36% said then-Gov. Christie had major accomplishments and 49% said he had minor accomplishments, while just 10% said he had none.

The poll also asked how Murphy’s policies have impacted six different constituent groups in New Jersey.  Not much has changed since Monmouth posed these questions last year.  Just under 4 in 10 (37%) say poor residents have been helped by the governor’s policies, while 28% say they have been hurt and 22% say there has been no impact on poor residents. This is the only group where the poll finds a clear net positive impact rating for Murphy’s policies. Opinion is more divided on how Murphy has impacted wealthy residents (26% helped and 21% hurt) and transit riders (20% helped and 17% hurt). On the other hand, the effect of the governor’s policies is seen as being decidedly more negative for property tax payers (13% helped and 46% hurt), middle-class residents (27% helped and 38% hurt), and businesses in the state (29% helped and 38% hurt).

“Property taxes are a perennial issue in New Jersey politics and they played a role in nearly upending Murphy’s reelection bid. His budget proposal puts an emphasis on this issue. We’ll have to see if it pays dividends in the future,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 31 to April 4, 2022 with 802 New Jersey adults.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. 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 Phil Murphy is doing as governor?

 TREND: All adultsApril
2022
Oct.
2021
Sept.
2021
Aug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve55%n/an/an/a57%71%41%43%44%
Disapprove35%n/an/an/a35%21%38%40%28%
(VOL) No opinion10%n/an/an/a8%8%21%17%28%
   (n)(802)n/an/an/a(706)(704)(713)(604)(703)
  TREND: Registered votersApril
2022
Oct.
2021
Sept.
2021
Aug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve57%52%52%54%57%72%40%42%43%
Disapprove35%39%38%36%36%21%41%43%30%
(VOL) No opinion9%9%10%10%7%7%19%16%27%
   (n)(738)(1,000)(804)(810)(661)(635)(651)(549)(632)

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

  TREND: All adultsApril
2022
May
2021
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve44%47%54%33%37%36%
Disapprove39%38%27%42%42%39%
(VOL) No opinion17%14%19%25%21%24%
   (n)(802)(706)(704)(713)(604)(703)
  TREND: Registered votersApril
2022
May
2021
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
July 2017May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Approve45%47%56%32%35%34%23%29%32%33%37%35%36%38%38%47%
Disapprove40%40%28%45%45%42%62%53%51%48%46%46%48%46%47%35%
(VOL) No opinion15%12%16%22%20%24%15%19%17%19%17%19%17%15%14%18%
   (n)(738)(661)(635)(651)(549)(632)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(470)
  TREND: Registered voters
continued
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
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve44%38%41%40%43%32%34%37%34%33%35%32%29%25%19%24%
Disapprove38%36%42%35%34%43%45%41%42%45%48%48%45%49%57%49%
(VOL) No opinion19%27%17%25%22%25%21%23%24%22%17%20%26%26%24%27%
(n)(698)(674)(694)(697)(726)(715)(678)(692)(709)(693)(730)(725)(718)(747)(719)(716)
  TREND: Registered voters
continued
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) No opinion22%22%21%26%17%22%25%23%
(n)(792)(721)(709)(889)(720)(719)(688)(681)

[Q4-8 held for future release.]

9.Do you think Phil Murphy is more concerned with governing the state of New Jersey or more concerned about his own political future? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]

  TREND:       COMPARISON: 
Chris Christie
 April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
  July
2017
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Sept.
2013
Dec.
2012
Feb.
2012
Governing the state of NJ45%49%33%33%40%  14%35%35%42%44%61%39%
His own political future45%41%49%46%39%  79%54%56%47%38%30%48%
(VOL) Both equally3%3%4%4%3%  2%7%5%6%12%5%6%
(VOL) Don’t know7%7%15%16%18%  4%4%4%5%6%4%7%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)(604)(703)  (800)(803)(803)(541)(783)(816)(803)

10.Thinking about Phil Murphy’s time as governor so far, would you say that he has major accomplishments, minor accomplishments, or no real accomplishments to point to?

  TREND:     COMPARISON:
Chris Christie
   April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
  Sept.
2013
Dec.
2012
Sept.
2012
Aug.
2011
May
2011
Feb.
2011
Major accomplishments30%34%12%  36%42%31%24%23%25%
Minor accomplishments42%37%42%  49%41%43%40%40%39%
No real accomplishments25%25%36%  10%11%21%34%34%34%
(VOL) Don’t know4%3%10%  5%5%5%3%2%2%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)  (783)(816)(805)(802)(807)(801)

11.I’d like to get your opinion on how Governor Murphy’s policies have affected different groups of New Jerseyans. Have his policies helped, hurt, or had no impact on [READ ITEM]?

[ITEMS WERE ROTATED]  [Note: In April 2018, poll question asked “how Governor Murphy’s policies will affect different groups…”]

Middle class residents

  TREND:April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Helped27%31%17%18%26%
Hurt38%36%31%39%41%
No impact27%25%36%27%17%
(VOL) Both helped and hurt2%2%2%1%2%
(VOL) Don’t know6%7%14%15%14%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)(604)(703)

Poor residents

  TREND:April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Helped37%43%25%27%38%
Hurt28%22%21%28%29%
No impact22%22%32%27%14%
(VOL) Both helped and hurt1%1%1%1%2%
(VOL) Don’t know13%13%21%18%17%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)(604)(703)

Wealthy residents

  TREND:April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Helped26%21%27%22%24%
Hurt21%21%14%21%29%
No impact37%38%31%30%30%
(VOL) Both helped and hurt1%1%1%1%1%
(VOL) Don’t know16%19%27%26%17%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)(604)(703)

Property tax payers

  TREND:April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Helped13%14%10%6%17%
Hurt46%46%39%48%51%
No impact29%26%33%29%14%
(VOL) Both helped and hurt1%1%1%1%1%
(VOL) Don’t know11%13%17%16%17%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)(604)(703)

Transit riders

  TREND:April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Helped20%24%16%14%28%
Hurt17%18%18%25%19%
No impact30%27%29%23%18%
(VOL) Both helped and hurt0%1%1%1%1%
(VOL) Don’t know32%30%35%37%34%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)(604)(703)

Businesses

  TREND:April
2022
May
2021
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Helped29%33%23%20%30%
Hurt38%39%26%33%33%
No impact18%15%26%24%15%
(VOL) Both helped and hurt1%3%1%1%1%
(VOL) Don’t know14%10%24%21%21%
   (n)(802)(706)(713)(604)(703)

12.Thinking nationally, does Phil Murphy help or hurt New Jersey’s image around the country, or does he make no difference to the state’s image?

    COMPARISON:
Chris Christie
  
 April
2022
  May
2015
April
 2014
Jan.
2014
July
2012
Help33%  17%29%36%41%
Hurt24%  47%33%21%29%
No difference40%  33%34%40%25%
(VOL) Don’t know3%  4%3%3%5%
(n)(802)  (500)(803)(541)(803)

13.Do you think Phil Murphy plans to run for president someday – would you say definitely, probably, probably not, or definitely not?

    COMPARISON:
Chris Christie
 April
2022
  May
2021*
Aug.
2013**
Definitely5%  7%19%
Probably32%  35%60%
Probably not43%  35%11%
Definitely not12%  14%3%
(VOL) Don’t know7%  9%8%
(n)(802)  (706)(777)

        * 2021 was asked about Christie’s plans to run in 2024

        ** 2013 was only asked of likely voters about Christie’s plans to run in 2016

14.Do you think Phil Murphy would or would not make a good president?

     COMPARISON:
Chris Christie
 April
2022
  May
2021
July
2015
Would33%  19%27%
Would not56%  70%69%
(VOL) Don’t know11%  11%4%
(n)(802)  (706)(503)

[Q15-45 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 31 to April 4, 2022 with a probability-based random sample of 802 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 280 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 522 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. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (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.

NJ Regions (by county)

North – Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, Union, Warren

Central – Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset

South – Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, Salem

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
24% Republican
40% Independent
36% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
28% 18-34
34% 35-54
38% 55+
 
58% White
12% Black
19% Hispanic
11% Asian/Other
 
61% No degree
39% 4 year degree

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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs