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NJ Governor’s Job Rating Positive but Christie Gets Blame for Race to Top

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010

New Jersey’s rating of Obama drops again


More New Jerseyans approve than disapprove of the job Governor Chris Christie is doing, but the Race to the Top application blunder has raised some doubts.  The latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media Poll  also finds a continuing erosion in Garden State opinion of President Barack Obama.

Governor Christie’s job rating currently stands at 45% approve to 38% disapprove among all state residents, and 44% to 40% among registered voters.  Christie receives positive ratings from 71% of Republicans, 49% of independents, and 22% of Democrats.

The governor’s job rating had been tracking at an almost even positive to negative split from the time he announced his initial budget cuts in March until just before he signed the 2 percent property tax cap in July.  Other organizations’ polls taken after the tax cap – but before the state lost the Race to the Top grant competition – showed the governor with positive ratings above the 50% mark.

“While the property tax cap improved the governor’s standing among state residents, mistakes made in the Race to the Top application seem to have raised doubts about the administration,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

About 2-in-3 (66%) New Jerseyans are aware that the state lost out on $400 million in federal Race to the Top education funds.  Among this group of aware residents, more place the ultimate responsibility for this loss with the governor (38%) rather than with former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler (20%).  Others blame New Jersey bureaucrats (9%), federal government officials (3%), and the teachers union (2%), among others.

A majority (52%) of those who have heard about this incident say it makes them less confident in the Christie administration, compared to 37% who say Race to the Top has no effect on their opinion and just 8% who say it has given them more confidence.  Furthermore, most aware residents (53%) feel that the loss of these funds will severely hamper the governor’s efforts to reform the state’s education system.  Another 32% say it hurts those efforts a little and just 12% say the loss of these funds won’t hurt those efforts at all.

The General Assembly has already held a hearing on this issue and the state Senate is scheduled to do so this week.  While some have accused the Democratic leadership of making political hay, residents who are aware of the issue are somewhat more likely to see the legislature’s reaction as appropriate (53%) rather than overblown (36%).

Turning to the national picture, New Jersey residents give more positive than negative reviews to President Obama, but just barely.  Currently, 48% of all New Jerseyans approve of the president’s job performance while 43% disapprove.  Among registered voters in the state, opinion stands at 47% positive to 44% negative.   New Jersey’s rating for the president continues to be higher than the national average of 46% approve to 50% disapprove recorded by Real Clear Politics  on September 19.  However, the current state rating marks yet another decline from the 30 point net positive rating Obama enjoyed in the Garden State in July 2009.

The president’s declining approval rating among New Jerseyans does not seem to have translated into increased support for a Republican takeover of Congress.  When asked which party they would like to see in control on Capitol Hill, Garden State voters split 23% for the GOP to 27% for the Democrats.  More than 4-in-10 (42%) say that the country would be the same regardless of which party controls Congress.  Compared to a poll taken in July, the Democrats have gained six points on this question.

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media Poll  was conducted by telephone with 801 New Jersey adults from September 15 to 19, 2010.  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 New Jersey Press Media 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 Chris Christie is doing as governor?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Approve 45% 44% 50% 22% 49% 71% 41% 46%
Disapprove 38% 40% 24% 58% 31% 22% 48% 36%
(VOL) Don’t know 17% 16% 26% 19% 20% 7% 11% 19%
  Unwtd N  

801

726 75 223 382 177 203

581

TREND:
All adults
Sept.
2010
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve 45% 44% 41% 33%
Disapprove 38% 44% 44% 15%
(VOL) Don’t know 17% 12% 15% 52%
Unwtd N

801

801 804

803

TREND:
Registered voters
Sept.
2010
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve 44% 45% 42% 31%
Disapprove 40% 43% 44% 15%
(VOL) Don’t know 16% 12% 13% 53%
Unwtd N

726

747 719

716

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Approve 48% 47% 59% 79% 40% 16% 50% 48%
Disapprove 43% 44% 33% 13% 48% 79% 42% 43%
(VOL) Don’t know 9% 9% 9% 7% 12% 5% 8% 9%
  Unwtd N  

801

726 75 223 382 177 203

581

 

TREND:
Registered 
voters only
Sept.
2010
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Oct.
2009
July
2009
Approve 47% 51% 54% 53% 54% 59%
Disapprove 44% 42% 41% 38% 33% 29%
(VOL) Don’t know 9% 6% 5% 9% 14% 12%
Unwtd N  

726

747 719 716 785

792

  1. Do you think the country would be better off if the Republicans controlled Congress, if the Democrats controlled Congress, or would the country be the same regardless of which party controlled Congress?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Republicans 22% 23% 12% 2% 16% 62% 14% 24%
Democrats 27% 27% 27% 60% 14% 3% 30% 27%
Same 44% 42% 53% 33% 60% 30% 46% 43%
(VOL) Don’t know 7% 7% 7% 5% 10% 4% 9% 6%
  Unwtd N  

801

726 75 223 382 177 203

581

TREND:
Registered voters only

Sept.
2010

July
2010

Republicans 23% 23%
Democrats 27% 21%
Same 42% 51%
(VOL) Don’t know   7% 5%
Unwtd N  

726

747

  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

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Right direction 37% 36% 43% 19% 46% 52% 33% 39%
Wrong track 51% 52% 45% 69% 45% 38% 59% 49%
(VOL) Depends 6% 7% 4% 8% 4% 6% 5% 7%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 5% 8% 4% 5% 5% 3% 5%
  Unwtd N  

801

726 75 223 382 177 203

581

  TREND: All adults

Sept.
2010

April
2010
Feb.
2010
Feb.
2009
Sept.
2008
July
2007
April
2007
Feb.
2007
Sept.
2006
July
2006
April
2006

Sept.
2005

  Right direction 37% 37% 29% 21% 26% 39% 33% 34% 29% 27% 30% 31%
  Wrong track 51% 55% 56% 72% 64% 50% 51% 55% 58% 62% 55% 54%
  (VOL) Depends 6% 5% 5% 3% 4% 6% 8% 6% 6% 4% 9% 5%
  (VOL) Don’t know 5% 4% 9% 4% 6% 6% 8% 6% 7% 7% 6% 10%
  Unwtd N

801

804 803 803 808 800 804 801 800 802 803

800

  1. Did you read or hear anything about New Jersey not getting 400 million dollars in federal Race to the Top education funds, or not?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Yes 66% 71% 38% 63% 65% 73% 76% 63%
No 32% 28% 58% 36% 32% 26% 24% 35%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 1% 3% 1% 3% 1% 0% 2%
  Unwtd N  

801

726 75 223 382 177 203

581

[The following questions were asked only of those who said “Yes” to Q5, moe= ± 4%]

  1. Who is most to blame for not getting these federal funds? [List was NOT read]

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Governor Chris Christie 38% 39% 29% 56% 31% 26% 45% 36%
Former Education Commissioner
Bret Schundler
20% 21% 12% 15% 21% 25% 18% 21%
New Jersey state government
bureaucrats (not specific)
9% 9% 10% 8% 9% 10% 9% 9%
Federal government education
department
3% 3% 5% 2% 3% 5% 2% 3%
Teachers’ union 2% 2% 0% 1% 2% 3% 1% 2%
The consultants 1% 1% 4% 0% 2% 0% 3% 0%
President Barack Obama 1% 2% 0% 1% 0% 5% 0% 2%
Everyone 2% 2% 3% 0% 3% 1% 2% 2%
Other 9% 8% 17% 6% 11% 10% 8% 9%
No one is to blame 1% 1% 2% 1% 2% 1% 1% 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 14% 14% 17% 11% 15% 15% 11% 15%
  Unwtd N  

595

556 39 160 288 135 172

412

  1. Did this incident make you more confident, less confident, or have no effect on your opinion of the Christie administration?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

More confident 8% 8% 9% 3% 7% 12% 4% 9%
Less confident 52% 53% 40% 71% 47% 38% 62% 49%
No effect 37% 37% 45% 24% 43% 45% 33% 39%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 3% 6% 2% 3% 4% 1% 4%
  Unwtd N  

595

556 39 160 288 135 172

412

  1. The legislature has held public hearings to look into this. Do you think the legislature’s reaction has been appropriate or overblown?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Appropriate 53% 53% 61% 66% 50% 42% 59% 51%
Overblown 36% 37% 25% 26% 36% 48% 33% 38%
(VOL) Both 1% 1% 0% 0% 2% 0% 1% 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 10% 9% 14% 7% 12% 10% 8% 11%
  Unwtd N  

595

556 39 160 288 135 172

412

  1. How much will the loss of these funds hurt the governor’s efforts to reform the state education system – a lot, a little, or not at all?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

A lot 53% 54% 49% 59% 54% 45% 61% 51%
A little 32% 32% 34% 33% 30% 37% 23% 36%
Not at all 12% 11% 13% 8% 14% 13% 14% 11%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 3% 4% 1% 3% 5% 2% 3%
  Unwtd N  

595

556 39 160 288 135 172 412

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on September 15-19, 2010 with a statewide random sample of 801 adult residents.  Sampling and live telephone interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc.  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)

35% Dem 48% Male 27% 18-34

68% White

43% Ind 52% Female 40% 35-54

13% Black

22% Rep   33% 55+

12% Hispanic

     

  7% 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