Skip to main content
CloseSearch

Stable Grades on Covid for Murphy

Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

Most say he is doing a good job despite nursing home, small business problems

West Long Branch, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of the Covid pandemic continues to get largely positive reviews from New Jersey voters, despite a majority feeling his administration bears at least some responsibility for the pain experienced by small businesses and the number of Covid deaths in nursing homes in the state. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll finds a majority of voters support reinstating stricter Covid safety protocols, including a majority of those who remain undecided in this year’s election for governor.

Murphy’s overall job performance rating among New Jersey voters stands at 52% approve and 38% disapprove, which is down from his May rating (57% to 36%) but in line with his rating last month (54% to 36%). The governor continues to get broadly positive reviews for his handling of the Covid outbreak, with 62% saying he has done a good job compared to just 27% who say he has done a bad job. His pandemic rating was similar in August (61% to 28%) and May (65% to 28%).

“Murphy’s handling of the pandemic continues to be his strongest asset. New Jerseyans acknowledge there have been missteps over the past eighteen months, some of them very serious, but that has not noticeably weakened their overall view of his Covid performance,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

More than 8 in 10 voters (82%) say that strict restrictions and lockdowns imposed by the state during the pandemic hurt New Jersey small businesses a lot. Just over half feel it was possible to have managed the pandemic in a way that small businesses did not get hurt – 24% say this was definitely possible and 29% say it was probably possible.

Nearly all voters have heard either a lot (61%) or a little (33%) about Covid deaths that occurred in New Jersey nursing homes. Just over half feel the Murphy administration bears either a great deal (23%) or some (30%) responsibility for these deaths.

“The governor’s opponents have been trying to focus voters’ attention on what they see as major failings in his handling of Covid. We don’t see evidence in the poll, though, that knowing about these issues is putting a major dent in Murphy’s numbers. This is due in part to a sense that he was right about the broader policies on masking and social distancing. In fact, many would like to see him reinstate these protocols,” said Murray.

About 6 in 10 voters (61%) support reinstituting general face mask and social distancing guidelines in New Jersey, which is virtually unchanged from 62% who felt this way last month. Over 4 in 10 voters (43%) are very concerned about a family member becoming seriously ill from Covid, which is identical to August (43%) and up slightly from May (37%).

Just over half (51%) of all New Jersey voters say measures taken by the state government to slow the spread of the virus have been appropriate. This result is up from 45% in August, but down from 58% in May. Another number that has bounced around is the percentage who feel the state has, in fact, not gone far enough. This view currently stands at 17% of the electorate, which is lower than 24% in August, but still slightly higher than 13% in May.  Another 1 in 4 (28%) say the state’s Covid measures have gone too far, which is similar to prior results (25% in August and 28% in May).

In relation to this year’s gubernatorial contest, Murphy backers are decidedly in favor of safety protocols and less likely to put the blame for small business problems and nursing home deaths on the governor. Not surprisingly, supporters of GOP nominee Jack Ciattarelli feel quite differently about it.

About 1 in 4 registered voters, though, are either undecided or only leaning toward a candidate right now. Among this relatively more persuadable group, most say the pandemic could have been handled with less pain for small businesses (60%) and just over half (52%) say the Murphy administration bears at least some responsibility for the number of nursing home Covid deaths. However, a majority of this group also feels Murphy has done a good job with the pandemic overall (57%) and would support reinstating face mask and social distancing guidelines (61%).

“There are probably very few truly persuadable voters left in New Jersey right now, but if anyone can be swayed it should be this group of undecideds. Their views on Covid, though, tend to align more with Murphy’s approach than Ciattarelli’s,” said Murray.

The poll also finds the state’s two U.S. senators maintain net positive job ratings among New Jersey voters. Sen. Cory Booker registers a 51% approve to 32% disapprove rating, compared to his career-high 57% approval rating in May (with 36% disapprove). However, his current net +19 point job rating is similar to his +21 rating in the spring. The big shift has been in the number who have no opinion of Booker, which has gone from an uncommonly low 6% in May to a more typical 17% in the current poll. Sen. Bob Menendez earns a 43% approve to 35% disapprove rating, which is in line with his 46% to 38% rating from May – while the number who give no rating to the state’s senior senator has risen from 16% to 22%.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 16 to 20, 2021 with 804 New Jersey registered voters. 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.)

[Q1-3 previously released.]

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

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Aug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve52%54%57%72%40%42%43%
Disapprove38%36%36%21%41%43%30%
(VOL) No opinion10%10%7%7%19%16%27%
   (n)(804)(810)(661)(635)(651)(549)(632)

[QUESTIONS 5 & 6 WERE ROTATED]

5.Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bob Menendez is doing as United States Senator?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
 Approve43%46%44%37%40%
Disapprove35%38%38%45%45%
(VOL) Don’t know22%16%18%18%15%
   (n)(804)(661)(635)(651)(549)
TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS continuedApril
2018
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
Approve37%41%41%38%42%49%45%47%51%49%47%44%41%
Disapprove38%35%31%38%38%27%30%34%31%30%27%38%31%
(VOL) Don’t know25%23%28%23%20%24%26%19%18%21%26%18%28%
   (n)(632)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(698)(694)(697)
TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS continuedApril
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
May
2011
July
2010
Oct.
2008
April
2008
Jan.
2008
Approve40%41%43%38%46%38%34%41%37%
Disapprove25%26%29%33%28%33%25%31%25%
(VOL) Don’t know35%33%28%29%26%29%41%28%37%
   (n)(692)(709)(693)(730)(725)(747)(900)(720)(698)

6.Do you approve or disapprove of the job Cory Booker is doing as United States Senator?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
May 2021April 2020Sept. 2019Feb. 2019April
2018
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
Approve51%57%51%45%48%54%50%53%45%51%51%42%48%47%47%37%
Disapprove32%36%34%40%38%31%31%21%24%21%21%23%25%23%20%21%
(VOL) Don’t know17%6%14%16%14%15%20%27%31%27%27%35%27%30%32%43%
   (n)(804)(661)(635)(651)(549)(632)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(698)

[Q7-21 previously released.]

22.How concerned are you about someone in your family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus outbreak – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Aug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Very concerned43%43%37%61%
Somewhat concerned27%25%26%24%
Not too concerned17%17%20%8%
Not at all concerned12%12%16%5%
(VOL) Has already happened1%1%2%1%
(VOL) Don’t know1%1%0%0%
   (n)(804)(810)(661)(635)

23.Has Governor Murphy done a good job or bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Aug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Good job62%61%65%80%
Bad job27%28%28%10%
(VOL) Mixed, depends6%6%6%7%
(VOL) Don’t know5%6%1%3%
   (n)(804)(810)(661)(635)

24.Have the measures taken by the New Jersey state government to slow the spread of the virus been appropriate, have they gone too far, or have they not gone far enough?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Aug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Appropriate51%45%58%65%
Gone too far28%25%28%11%
Not gone far enough17%24%13%22%
(VOL) Don’t know4%5%2%1%
   (n)(804)(810)(661)(635)

25.Do you support or oppose reinstituting face mask and social distancing guidelines in New Jersey at the current time?  [Do you support/oppose that strongly or somewhat?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Aug.
2021
Strongly support49%45%
Somewhat support12%17%
Somewhat oppose13%14%
Strongly oppose23%21%
(VOL) Don’t know4%3%
   (n)(804)(810)

26.Did the strict restrictions and lockdowns imposed by the state government during the pandemic hurt small businesses in New Jersey a lot, a little, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Lot82%
Little13%
Not at all 2%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
   (n)(804)

27.Do you think it was possible to have managed the pandemic in a way that small businesses did not get hurt – was this definitely possible, probably possible, probably not possible, or definitely not possible?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Definitely possible24%
Probably possible29%
Probably not possible28%
Definitely not possible12%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
Businesses not hurt (from Q26)5%
   (n)(804)

28.How much have you heard about deaths from Covid that happened in New Jersey nursing homes – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Lot61%
Little33%
Nothing at all5%
   (n)(804)

29.How much is the Murphy administration responsible for these nursing home deaths – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Great deal23%
Some30%
Not much21%
Not at all16%
(VOL) Don’t know9%
   (n)(804)

30.Have you, yourself, received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, or not? [If NOT:] Do you plan to get the Covid vaccine as soon as possible, will you continue to let other people get it first to see how it goes, or is it likely you will never get the vaccine if you can avoid it?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2021
Aug.
2021
May
2021
Already received vaccine84%79%66%
As soon as possible2%2%5%
See how it goes5%5%13%
Likely will never get vaccine9%10%14%
(VOL) Don’t know2%4%2%
(n)(804)(810)(661)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 16 to 20, 2021 with a statewide random sample of 804 New Jersey voters drawn from a list of registered voters. This includes 225 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 579 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for party registration, age, gender, race, education, and region based on state voter registration list information and U.S. Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on the full voter 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)
REGISTERED VOTERS
 
Self-Reported Party
22% Republican
43% Independent
36% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
23% 18-34
32% 35-54
46% 55+
 
64% White, non-Hispanic
13% Black
14% Hispanic
  9% Asian/Other
 
55% No degree
45% 4 year degree

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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs