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Corzine Report Card: No Major Accomplishments

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Few New Jerseyans satisfied with state budget

Most New Jerseyans feel Governor Jon Corzine has no major accomplishments to point to as he asks voters to give him a second term in Trenton.  The latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  also finds little movement in his report card grades in key performance areas, as he continues to average a “C-” from the New Jersey public.

Currently, only 37% of New Jersey residents approve of how their governor is handling his job, compared to 49% who disapprove.  Among registered voters, his ratings stand at 38% approve to 51% disapprove. This is consistent with Corzine’s job rating since February.

Governor Corzine maintains net positive job ratings only among his fellow Democrats – 53% approve to 30% disapprove.  He receives negative ratings from majorities of both independents (57% disapprove to 30% approve) and Republicans (74% disapprove to 21% approve).

With only six months left in his term, few voters feel that Jon Corzine has accomplished much during his time in Trenton.  Only 13% say that he has major accomplishments to point to, while 49% say he has minor accomplishments.  Another 34% say that he has no real accomplishments.  Even among his fellow Democrats, only 23% feel that Corzine has achieved major accomplishments as governor.  They are joined by just 9% of Republicans and 7% of independents who feel the same.

“It’s pretty difficult to expect voters to return you to office when all they’ve seen are improvements around the edges.  But this is exactly the position Corzine finds himself in,” commented Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Last month, the governor was successful in getting the legislature to pass a state budget that cut overall spending while preserving some property tax relief.  However, the governor shouldn’t expect the public to give him a lot of credit for it.

About three-quarters of the New Jersey public have read or heard about the budget.  Among this “aware” group, only 6% say they are satisfied with the budget, while 37% are dissatisfied.  The majority – 53% – aren’t particularly satisfied with the budget, but say they can live with it.

“The Corzine camp says that this budget is a product of the poor economy and it would have been worse if the governor hadn’t put New Jersey’s finances on the right footing in the first years of his term.  That message isn’t resonating with the public,” said Murray.

Fully 2-in-3 voters (68%) disagree with the governor’s claim that the state has managed its finances well over the past three years.   Just 25% side with the governor on this.  Most Democrats (57%) join Republicans (78%) and independents (75%) in saying that state finances have not been well-managed during Corzine’s term.  These numbers are basically unchanged since May.

Also, only 1-in-10 residents (11%) say that New Jersey’s budget situation is better off than in other states.  Another 38% think New Jersey is worse off and 44% say the budget situation is about the same as in other states.

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 “C-“.  Broken down by partisanship, he averages a “C” among Democrats and a “D+” among both Republicans and independents.  These grades are identical to the last report card in issued February.

The governor continues to get his best grade, a C, for improving schools and for the level of effort he puts into working for New Jersey.  He scores a C- on bringing ethics and honesty back to state government.

Corzine also scores a C- on controlling costs and cutting waste, which is a slight uptick from the D+ average he earned in February.  However, he can only muster a D+ on property taxes and a D on making New Jersey a more affordable place to live.

  Jon Corzine, Governor Semi-Annual Report Card
 
July
2009
Prior Grades
Subject Feb
2009
July
2008
Jan
2008
July
2007
Sept
2006
April
2006
Cost-Cutting C- D+C-C-C-C-C-
Property Taxes D+D+D+C-C-D+D+
Government Ethics C-C-C-CCCC
Cost of Living DDDDD+D+D+
Schools CCCCCCC
Level of Effort CCC+C+ B-B- C+
Overall grade C-C-C-C-CC C-

The poll also found that the governor continues to do slightly better than the state legislature in the public’s eye.  Only 30% of New Jerseyans approve of the job their legislature is doing, while 47% disapprove.

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  was conducted by telephone with 923 New Jersey adults from July 9 to 14, 2009.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.2 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

 

Yes

NoDemInd

Rep

 Approve 37%38%32%53%30%21%
 Disapprove 49%51%43%30%57%74%
 (VOL) Don’t know 14%12%25%17%13%5%
 Unwtd N 

923

792131322354

221

TREND:
Registered voters only
July
2009
April
2009
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
 Approve38%40%34%43%38%40%39%36%34%42%47%46%52%44%44%40%33%
 Disapprove51%49%51%40%45%49%47%53%55%46%34%36%30%36%41%41%38%
 (VOL) Don’t know12%11%15%17%18%11%14%11%11%12%19%17%17%20%16%19%29%
 Unwtd N

792

690721413900709889720719698688678668681663670

652

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

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

 

Yes

NoDemInd

Rep

 Approve 30%31%25%37%25%23%
 Disapprove 47%48%43%36%55%60%
 (VOL) Don’t know 23%22%32%27%20%17%
 Unwtd N 

923

792131322354

221

  TREND:

July
2009

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

Feb.
2007

  Approve30%25%29%27%29%28%33%35%
  Disapprove47%52%47%45%53%50%41%40%
  (VOL) Don’t know23%23%23%28%18%22%26%25%
  Unwtd N

923

8038081004803805801

801

3. 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 …?  [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

A. Controlling costs and cutting waste

TREND:July
2009
Feb.
2009
July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006
April
2006
A – Highest grade5%4%6%6%7%7%5%
B18%16%17%19%21%19%20%
C29%29%25%29%31%31%29%
D15%19%15%15%15%13%14%
F – Failing grade27%28%28%24%20%21%20%
(VOL) Don’t know6%3%9%7%6%9%13%
Unwtd N

923

8031004804800800

803

B. Providing property tax relief

TREND:July
2009
Feb.
2009
July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006
April
2006
A – Highest grade5%5%  7%  6%  8%  5%  5%
B13%10%12%18%20%15%12%
C23%26%25%28%24%25%21%
D16%20%21%14%16%14%15%
F – Failing grade35%35%28%28%26%31%35%
(VOL) Don’t know7%4%  7%  5%  6%  9%13%
Unwtd N

923

8031004804800800

803

C. Bringing ethics and honesty back to state government

TREND:

July
2009

Feb.
2009
July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade8%6%  7%10%  8%11%  8%
B22%18%19%25%26%25%27%
C27%30%28%28%28%28%24%
D14%18%16%11%15%13%12%
F – Failing grade24%24%22%20%18%15%17%
(VOL) Don’t know6%4%  7%  6%  5%  7%11%
Unwtd N

923

8031004804800800

803

D. Making New Jersey a more affordable place to live

TREND:

July
2009

Feb.
2009
July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade4%5%4%5%7%7%5%
B13%9%10%10%16%10%10%
C23%18%24%20%20%24%23%
D16%20%17%18%21%17%14%
F – Failing grade42%45%41%44%33%38%40%
(VOL) Don’t know3%2%5%2%3%3%9%
Unwtd N

923

8031004804800800

803

E. Improving our schools

TREND:

July
2009

Feb.
2009
July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade8%8%9%6%7%10%8%
B24%18%19%25%26%21%19%
C31%34%31%28%31%30%28%
D15%15%15%14%12%15%14%
F – Failing grade15%17%15%18%14%12%16%
(VOL) Don’t know8%8%11%9%10%13%15%
Unwtd N

923

8031004804800800

803

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

TREND:

July
2009

Feb.
2009
July
2008
Jan.
2008
July
2007
Sept.
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade14%12%17%18%18%22%16%
B28%26%26%30%33%28%26%
C25%28%26%27%27%27%29%
D13%14%9%9%9%9%11%
F – Failing grade15%15%15%12%9%8%11%
(VOL) Don’t know5%4%5%4%4%5%8%
Unwtd N

923

8031004804800800

803

5. Thinking about Corzine’s term as governor so far, would you say that he has major accomplishments, minor accomplishments, or no real accomplishments to point to?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

 

Yes

NoDemInd

Rep

 Major accomplishments 13%14%9%23%7%9%
 Minor accomplishments 49%48%50%53%52%36%
 No real accomplishments 34%34%33%20%37%53%
 (VOL) Don’t know 4%3%9%4%4%3%
 Unwtd N 

923

792131322354

221

6. Do you agree or disagree that the state government has managed its finances well over the past three years?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

  

Yes

NoDemInd

Rep

 Agree 25%25%23%34%18%20%
 Disagree 68%68%67%57%75%78%
 (VOL) Don’t know 8%7%10%9%8%2%
 Unwtd N 

923

792131322354

221

TREND:

July
2009

May
2009

Agree25%23%
Disagree68%69%
(VOL) Don’t know8%8%
Unwtd N

923

391

7. Compared to other states, is New Jersey’s budget situation better, worse, or about the same?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

  

Yes

NoDemInd

Rep

 Better 11%12%8%16%9%8%
 Worse 38%36%46%32%40%49%
 About the same 44%44%43%48%43%37%
 (VOL) Don’t know 7%8%3%5%8%7%
 Unwtd N 

923

792131322354

221

TREND:July
2009
May
2009
Better11%7%
Worse38%40%
About the same44%43%
(VOL) Don’t know7%11%
Unwtd N

923

803

8. How much have you read or heard about the state budget that was passed last month – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

  

Yes

NoDemInd

Rep

 Lot 19%20%15%15%24%21%
 Little 55%56%50%63%49%52%
 Nothing 25%23%34%21%26%25%
 (VOL) Don’t know 1%2%0%1%1%2%
 Unwtd N 

923

792131322354

221

[The following question was asked only of those who said “a lot” or “a little” to Q8, moe= ± 3.7%]

9. How would you describe your reaction to the budget – would you say you are satisfied with it, not particularly satisfied but you can live with it, or you are definitely dissatisfied with it?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

  

Yes

NoDemInd

Rep

 Satisfied 6%5%11%9%4%1%
 Can live with 53%55%46%65%48%42%
 Dissatisfied 37%36%41%24%44%53%
 (VOL) Don’t know 3%4%2%3%4%4%
 Unwtd N 

713

62786254268

177

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 July 9-14, 2009 with a statewide random sample of 923 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 3.2 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 crosstabs