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Public Gives Corzine a “C”

Monday, Sept. 25, 2006

Public sees no substantial improvements, but feel he’s trying

When the Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  first asked state residents to grade Governor Jon Corzine a few months into his administration, the verdict was “needs improvement.”  Now that he’s eight months into his term and has survived a contentious budget battle with the legislature, the public concludes that not much has changed, but at least it looks like he’s trying.

Overall, Governor Corzine’s job approval ratings have improved while his disapprovals have remained steady.  Currently, 42% of the New Jersey public approve of how their governor is handling his job compared to 38% who disapprove.  This marks a reversal from his upside down 34% to 37% job rating in April.

At the same time, nearly 6-in-10 New Jerseyans (58%) continue to believe the state is on the wrong track while only 29% feel it is heading in the right direction.

“It looks like more New Jerseyans are giving the governor the benefit of the doubt,” commented Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  “While they don’t see any major policy accomplishments so far, they feel he is working hard.”

When asked to grade the Corzine administration in a number of key areas, the public is only able to muster C’s and D’s in most policy areas, but he scores a “B-” for the amount of effort he puts into working for the state.  This has bumped up his overall average to a solid “C”, which is half a grade higher than his April report card.

As with the April report card, Governor Corzine continues to receive particularly poor grades for providing property tax relief and making New Jersey a more affordable place to live, key themes in his campaign and an issue on which special legislative committees are now meeting.

Specifically, Corzine continues to average a “D+” in the areas of providing property tax relief and making New Jersey a more affordable place to live.  On property taxes, only 20% of residents feel he has earned an A or B, 25% give him a C, and 45% give a D or F.  On cost of living affordability, only 17% of residents feel he has earned an A or B, 24% give him a C, and 55% say he earns a D or is failing in this subject.  These individual grades are slightly better than in April, but not enough to raise the governor’s overall average for these subjects.

“The governor may have spurred the legislature to launch special hearings, but when it comes to actual plans for property tax relief, New Jerseyans are asking ‘Where’s the beef?’,” remarked Murray.

  Jon Corzine, Governor September 2006  Report Card
Subject A/B C D/F Incom-plete Average Grade April 2006
Cost-Cutting 26% 31% 34% 9% C- C
Property Taxes 20% 25% 45% 9% D+ D+
Government Ethics 36% 28% 28% 7% C C
Cost of Living 17% 24% 55% 3% D+ D+
Schools 31% 30% 27% 13% C C
Quality of Appointments 30% 33% 20% 17% C n/a
Level of Effort 50% 27% 17% 5% B- C+
Overall grade C C

Corzine’s best policy subjects so far – relatively speaking – seem to be in the areas of government ethics and schools, where he averages a “C”.  On bringing ethics and honesty to government, he receives an A or B from 36%, a C from 28%, and a D or F from 28%.  On improving schools, he receives an A or B from 31%, a C from 30%, and a D or F from 27%.  These averages are unchanged from April.

After this summer’s budget battle and state shutdown, the governor continues to average a “C-“on controlling costs and cutting waste.  This includes receiving an A or B from 26%, a C from 31%, and a D or F from 34%, which is basically identical to his pre-budget grades on this subject.

The current report card also asked New Jerseyans to grade their governor on the quality of the people he has appointed to office.  As with the other areas polled, the reviews are mixed, with 30% saying he has earned an A or B in this area, 33% a C, and 20% a D or F.  Another 17% feel they cannot give a grade in this area, making his average grade on appointments a “C.”

The only area in the report card where the governor’s grades have improved is in the level of effort he puts into working on behalf of the state.  The average grade he receives from residents for effort is a “B-“, his only grade above the C level.  This includes 50% who grade him an A or B for effort (up from 42% in April), 27% who grade him a C, and 17% who give poor marks of D or F (down from 22% in April).

When the individual subjects are averaged, the governor receives an overall “C” grade point average from Garden State residents for the past few months.  Broken down by partisan preference, he averages a “C+” among Democrats, a “C-” among Republicans, and a “C” among independents.  These averages represent a half-grade improvement among all partisan groups since the April report card.

Similarly, the improvement in Governor Corzine’s job approval rating has come from all partisan groups – Democrats (62% up from 48%), Republicans (29% up from 19%), and independents (36% up from 30%).

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  was conducted by telephone with 800 New Jersey adults from September 18 to 21, 2006.  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 Gannett New Jersey newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, Home News Tribune, and Ocean County Observer).

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

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 IDGENDER

REGION OF STATE

  

Yes

NoDemIndRepMaleFemaleNorthCentral

South

 Right direction 29%28%31%39%28%19%34%24%32%26%27%
 Wrong track 58%61%45%45%62%69%53%62%55%59%61%
 (VOL) Depends 6%5%9%8%4%5%5%7%6%6%7%
 (VOL) Dont know 7%5%14%8%6%7%8%7%7%9%5%
 Unwtd N 

800

663137219348207371429369193

233

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

September
2005

Right direction29%30%31%
Wrong track58%55%54%
(VOL) Depends6%9%5%
(VOL) Dont know7%6%10%
Unwtd N

800

803

800

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Jon Corzine is doing as governor?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY IDGENDER

REGION OF STATE

  

Yes

NoDemIndRepMaleFemaleNorthCentral

South

 Approve 42%44%38%62%36%29%46%39%43%44%40%
 Disapprove 38%41%27%24%41%52%35%41%35%41%40%
 (VOL) Don’t know 20%16%35%13%23%20%20%19%21%15%20%
 Unwtd N 

800

663137219348207371429369193

233

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

Approve42%34%
Disapprove38%37%
(VOL) Don’t know20%29%
 Unwtd N

800

803

3. I’d like you to grade the Corzine administration on how it has handled specific issues over the past few months. 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 … ?

Controlling costs and cutting waste

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade7%5%
B19%20%
C31%29%
D13%14%
F – Failing grade21%20%
(VOL) Don’t know9%13%
Unwtd N

800

803

Providing property tax relief

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade5%5%
B15%12%
C25%21%
D14%15%
F – Failing grade31%35%
(VOL) Don’t know9%13%
Unwtd N

800

803

Bringing ethics and honesty back to state government

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade11%8%
B25%27%
C28%24%
D13%12%
F – Failing grade15%17%
(VOL) Don’t know7%11%
Unwtd N

800

803

Making New Jersey a more affordable place to live

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade7%5%
B10%10%
C24%23%
D17%14%
F – Failing grade38%40%
(VOL) Don’t know3%9%
Unwtd N

800

803

Improving our schools

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade10%8%
B21%19%
C30%28%
D15%14%
F – Failing grade12%16%
(VOL) Don’t know13%15%
Unwtd N

800

803

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

TREND: 
 

September
2006

April
2006

A – Highest grade22%16%
B28%26%
C27%29%
D9%11%
F – Failing grade8%11%
(VOL) Don’t know5%8%

Unwtd N

800

803

5. And what grade would you give him for the quality of the people he has appointed to serve in his administration?

 

September
2006

A – Highest grade6%
B24%
C33%
D10%
F – Failing grade10%
(VOL) Don’t know17%
Unwtd N

800

Results for this Monmouth University/Gannett NJ Poll  are based on telephone interviews conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on September 18-21, 2006 with a statewide random sample of 800 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 3.5 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.

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