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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Murphy Starts Term With Higher Ratings Than Prior Govs

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

But public doubts middle class, property tax payers will benefit

West Long Branch, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy starts off his tenure with a fairly positive job rating. He is in a markedly better position than his two predecessors at the same early point in their administrations. These findings come from the first Monmouth University Poll of Garden State residents since Murphy took office earlier this year. However, there is also some doubt about where Murphy’s priorities lie. New Jerseyans believe that poor residents will do better than middle class residents and property tax payers as a result of the new governor’s policies. And the public is divided on whether Murphy puts governing the state ahead of his own personal ambitions or vice versa.

Currently, 44% of New Jersey adults approve of the job Murphy is doing as governor compared to 28% who disapprove. Another 28% have no opinion of the governor’s performance twelve weeks into his term. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (65%) approve and only 7% disapprove, while just 17% of Republicans approve and 59% disapprove. Among independents, 41% approve and 33% disapprove of the governor’s performance to date.

The fact that Murphy has a net positive job rating marks a departure from the prior two governors at the same point in their terms. Chris Christie held a slightly negative 41% approve to 44% disapprove rating in April 2010 and Jon Corzine received a slightly negative 34% approve to 37% disapprove rating in April 2006 according to Monmouth polling. More residents formed an opinion about Christie early in his governorship than did for either Murphy or Corzine.

A new governor generally reveals key policy priorities in the state budget proposal submitted shortly after taking office. Just 9% say they are satisfied with Murphy’s budget proposal, 29% say they are not particularly satisfied but can live with it, and 23% are dissatisfied. Nearly 4-in-10 (38%), though, have no opinion or have not heard about the plan.

More New Jerseyans say that they have no opinion or have not heard of Murphy’s spending plan (38%) than said the same about Christie’s (13%) or even Corzine’s (30%) first budgets. In fact, only 15% say they have heard a lot about Murphy’s plan, which is lower than those who heard a lot about the first budget submitted by Christie (45%) and even Corzine (25%). This lack of awareness also means that outright dissatisfaction with Murphy’s budget (23%) is lower than it was for the proposals offered by either Christie (39%) or Corzine (30%). On the other hand, satisfaction with the current governor’s spending plan (9%) is not substantially different than it was for Corzine’s (8%) and slightly less than for Christie’s (19%).

“Perhaps one reason why Murphy’s overall job rating is so positive is because fewer New Jerseyans are paying attention to this new governor than in the past,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “It’s worth noting that turnout in last year’s election was a record low and Monmouth’s polling found that most voters couldn’t say whether Murphy’s views were in line with the state. It’s not clear how much more they know now.

 

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR METRICS
after 3 months in office

 

Murphy
4/18

Christie
4/10

Corzine
4/06

Job rating      
   Approve 44% 41% 34%
   Disapprove 28% 44% 37%
   No opinion 28% 15% 29%
       
Aware of budget proposal
   Lot 15% 45% 25%
   Little 55% 44% 49%
   Nothing 30% 11% 27%
       
Opinion of budget proposal
   Satisfied 9% 19% 8%
   Can live with it 29% 28% 33%
   Dissatisfied 23% 39% 30%
   No opinion/not aware 38% 13% 30%
       

 

Residents are evenly divided on whether Murphy is more concerned with governing the state of New Jersey (40%) or more concerned about his own political future (39%) after just three months on the job. Democrats are more likely to say he puts New Jersey (57%) before his own ambitions (22%) while Republicans believe the opposite (18% New Jersey more and 66% own future more). Independents are divided, with 36% saying he puts New Jersey first and 42% saying he puts his own political future first.

Public opinion may be split on where Murphy’s focus lies, but these results are still more positive than when the same question was asked about his immediate predecessor. Christie left office with nearly 8-in-10 New Jerseyans (79%) saying he put his own political ambitions ahead of the state he governed. The only time Christie was seen as putting New Jersey before his own future was in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, but opinion flipped back on this question after the Bridgegate scandal broke in early 2014.

“Speculation about Phil Murphy’s political ambition has circulated since he entered the public arena in New Jersey just over three years ago touting an unabashedly liberal agenda. Opinion on where his heart lies now splits along predictable party lines. But there is still a large number of independents who wonder whether he’s focused more on the state or on the national stage,” said Murray.

Murphy campaigned on a platform to build “a middle class for the 21st century,” but the poll finds that few New Jerseyans expect the middle class – and property tax payers in particular – will benefit from his time as governor. Just 26% say Murphy’s policies will ultimately help middle class residents in the state. More (41%) expect that his policies will hurt the middle class, while 17% say his policies will have no impact on that group. Expectations are even lower for how property tax payers will be affected; only 17% say Murphy’s policies will help this group while fully 51% say they will be hurt by his policies. Just 14% say property tax payers will feel no impact either way from Murphy’s policies.

On the other end of the spectrum, New Jerseyans are more likely to say that poor residents will be helped (38%) rather than hurt (29%) by Murphy’s policies, with another 14% saying they will feel no impact. Transit riders are also more likely to benefit according to public expectations – 28% say the new governor’s policies will help transit riders, 19% say they will be hurt, and 18% say there will be no impact, although a plurality of 34% are not sure how the Murphy administration’s actions will affect transit riders.

Garden State residents are divided on whether wealthy residents will be helped (24%), be hurt (29%), or feel no impact (30%) from Murphy’s policies. There is a similar divide on businesses in the state – 30% say businesses will be helped by Murphy’s policies and 33% say they will be hurt, with 15% saying state businesses will feel no impact either way.

In general, more Democrats say that these groups will be helped rather than hurt by Murphy – with one significant exception. Even the governor’s fellow Democrats are more likely to say that property tax payers will be hurt (41%) rather than helped (19%) by his policies. In other partisan results, Republicans and independents are divided on whether poor residents and transit riders will be helped or hurt. But they feel the other groups mentioned in the survey are more likely to be hurt by Murphy’s policies, with Republicans significantly more likely than independents to feel this way.

“Governor Murphy is definitely enjoying a honeymoon period, largely because his budget proposal seems to be flying under the radar right now. But many New Jerseyans are skeptical about his promises to strengthen the middle class. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months,” said Murray.

The poll also finds that the New Jersey legislature receives a 36% approve and 39% disapprove rating from state residents. This marks an improvement in public opinion for that body going back a number of years. The last time public disapproval of the state legislature dipped below 40% was January 2014.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 6 to 10, 2018 with 703 New Jersey adults.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.7 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.]

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Phil Murphy is doing as governor?

All adults

 

April
2018
Approve 44%
Disapprove 28%
(VOL) No opinion 28%
   (n) (703)

 

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the state legislature is doing?
  April
2018
Approve 36%
Disapprove 39%
(VOL) No opinion 24%
   (n) (703)

 

TREND: Registered voters April
2018
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
Approve 34% 23% 29% 32% 33% 37% 35% 36% 38% 38% 47% 44% 38% 41% 40%
Disapprove 42% 62% 53% 51% 48% 46% 46% 48% 46% 47% 35% 38% 36% 42% 35%
(VOL) No opinion 24% 15% 19% 17% 19% 17% 19% 17% 15% 14% 18% 19% 27% 17% 25%
   (n) (632) (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
Approve 69% 55% 53% 50% 55% 55% 50% 46% 49% 44% 45% 42% 31%
Disapprove 22% 36% 35% 38% 37% 37% 41% 49% 41% 40% 43% 44% 15%
(VOL) No opinion 9% 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
Approve 31% 23% 29% 27% 28% 25% 32% 34%
Disapprove 48% 55% 50% 47% 55% 53% 43% 42%
(VOL) No opinion 22% 22% 21% 26% 17% 22% 25% 23%
   (n) (792) (721) (709) (889) (720) (719) (688) (681)

 

[Q4-7 held for future release.]

  1. 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]
  April
2018
Governing the state of NJ 40%
His own political future 39%
(VOL) Both equally 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 18%
   (n) (703)

 

  1. How much have you heard about Governor Murphy’s proposed state budget for the coming year – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?
  April
2018
A lot 15%
A little 55%
Nothing at all 30%
   (n) (703)

 

  1. How would you describe your reaction to the governor’s budget plan – would you say you are satisfied with it, not particularly satisfied but you can live with it, or you are definitely dissatisfied with it?
  April
2018
Satisfied 9%
Can live with it 29%
Dissatisfied 23%
(VOL) Don’t know 8%
Have not heard about proposed budget (from Q9) 30%
   (n) (703)

 

  1. I’d like to get your opinion on how Governor Murphy’s policies will affect different groups of New Jerseyans. Will his policies help, hurt, or have no impact on [READ ITEM]?

[ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

 

Middle class residents

  April
2018
Help 26%
Hurt 41%
No impact 17%
(VOL) Both help and hurt 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 14%
   (n) (703)

 

Poor residents

  April
2018
Help 38%
Hurt 29%
No impact 14%
(VOL) Both help and hurt 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 17%
   (n) (703)

 

Wealthy residents

  April
2018
Help 24%
Hurt 29%
No impact 30%
(VOL) Both help and hurt 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 17%
   (n) (703)

 

Property tax payers

  April
2018
Help 17%
Hurt 51%
No impact 14%
(VOL) Both help and hurt 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 17%
   (n) (703)

 

Transit riders

  April
2018
Help 28%
Hurt 19%
No impact 18%
(VOL) Both help and hurt 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 34%
   (n) (703)

 

Businesses

  April
2018
Help 30%
Hurt 33%
No impact 15%
(VOL) Both help and hurt 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 21%
   (n) (703)

 

[Q12-39 held for future release.]

 

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from April 6 to 10, 2018 with a random sample of 703 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 421 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 282 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 3.7 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
21% Republican
41% Independent
38% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
28% 18-34
36% 35-54
36% 55+
 
60% White
13% Black
17% Hispanic
10% Asian/Other
 

 

 

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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