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Monmouth University Polling Institute

New Jersey on Christie’s Style: “Meh!”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Booker, Codey are the best known potential 2013 challengers

Governor Chris Christie's job approval rating has ticked up a few points in the latest Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  and few New Jerseyans are particularly bothered by the way he deals with people who disagree with him.  The poll also found that two potential challengers in the next election, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Governor Dick Codey, are well regarded by the state's voters.

Currently, Governor Christie earns a 53% approve to 35% disapprove job rating among all Garden State residents.  Among registered voters, his rating stands at 55% approve to 36% disapprove.  This marks a one point increase in approval among residents and a two point increase among registered voters compared to the July Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll .

The governor continues to make headlines for what have become known as his "YouTube moments" - which some critics have likened to the behavior of a bully.  New Jerseyans, though, are not particularly concerned by his conduct.  Fully 63% say they are not bothered personally by the governor's style of speaking to or about people who disagree with him.  Only 1-in-3 Garden State residents are bothered - either a lot (23%) or a little (11%) - by the way Gov. Christie deals with his detractors.

"Critics and media pundits might object to Gov. Christie's confrontational style, but the vast majority of his constituents simply shrug their shoulders.  It's not a big deal to them," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Even so, some of his constituents feel the governor could be more successful if he modified his public behavior.  While most New Jerseyans (51%) say that a change in Gov. Christie's style would not have affected the amount he has accomplished so far, 28% feel that he could have accomplished more if he acted differently compared to just 11% who say he would have accomplished less.

Overall, though, 31% of New Jerseyans say the governor can point to some major accomplishments.  This number is up from 24% who said the same in August 2011.  Another 43% say he has minor accomplishments.  Just 21% say he has no real accomplishments, which is down from 34% just over one year ago.

The governor's job rating does not seem to be affected by recent news about the state's credit outlook and unemployment rate.  To the extent his constituents have been paying attention to those reports, 54% say they have no impact on their confidence in Gov. Christie's policies, while 17% are less confident and 6% are more confident in the governor.  Another 21% say they are not aware of recent news reports on these matters.

2013 Outlook  

The 2013 gubernatorial election is more than a year away.  As it stands right now, 50% of registered Garden State voters are willing to say that Chris Christie deserves another term as governor.  Another 45% feel that it might be time to have someone new in office.  Among registered voters who call themselves politically independent, 51% endorse another Christie term to 41% who want new blood.The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  also asked Garden State voters to assess a field of nine possible Democratic challengers to Chris Christie.  Only two have sufficient name recognition to garner an evaluation from more than a third of the electorate.  Newark Mayor Cory Booker is the most well-known, earning a sizable +36 positive rating of 49% favorable to 13% unfavorable.  Former governor and current state senator Dick Codey, earns a healthy +20 positive rating of 34% favorable to 14% unfavorable.

            New Jersey Gubernatorial Contender Ratings  

(among registered voters)  

Total familiar



Net Rating  

Gov. Chris Christie





Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno









Potential Democratic Challengers:  





Newark Mayor Cory Booker





Former Gov. Dick Codey





Senate Pres. Steve Sweeney





Congressman Frank Pallone





Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver





State Senator Barbara Buono





Assemblyman Lou Greenwald





Assemblyman John Wisniewski





Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage





Gov. Codey has held positive ratings since he left office, having served as the state's chief executive for just over a year after Jim McGreevey resigned.  However, voter familiarity has dropped since he vacated the governor's office and was subsequently ousted as senate president.  Six years ago, Codey had a 53% to 17% rating which dipped to 48% to 15% in July 2008.  By February 2010, fewer than 6-in-10 voters gave him a rating - a still positive 38% to 19%.  Currently, just under half of voters feel they can rate Dick Codey.  [ Note:  This is the poll's first rating of Mayor Booker .]

Another potential challenger to Gov. Christie is current Senate President Steve Sweeney - who gets a net +3 rating from about one-third of New Jersey voters, 19% favorable to 16% unfavorable.  Congressman Frank Pallone is familiar to 1-in-4 voters, at 17% favorable to 8% unfavorable for a +9 net rating.  General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, while generally not considered to be mulling a run, earns a 14% favorable to 10% unfavorable - or +4 - rating.

"The first step in challenging an incumbent in New Jersey is to attain adequate name recognition.  Right now, only Booker, Codey, and perhaps Sweeney have reached that threshold," said Murray.

It's worth noting that at a similar point in the last gubernatorial race ( July 2008 ), then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie was familiar to nearly 4-in-10 voters and earned a +21 rating of 30% favorable to 9% unfavorable.  Incumbent Jon Corzine had a split voter rating of 43% favorable to 44% unfavorable at that time.  Gov. Christie is in a very different position than his predecessor, claiming a +20 rating of 54% favorable to 34% unfavorable among registered voters.

Other potential Democratic contenders are less well-known, including State Senator Barbara Buono (11% favorable to 7% unfavorable), Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (7% to 7%), Assemblyman John Wisniewski (8% to 5%), and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage (6% to 4%).

For the record, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is familiar to 1-in-3 voters, earning a positive 21% favorable to 11% unfavorable rating.  This result doubles her overall familiarity from a year ago.  In October 2011, she earned a 10% positive to 5% negative rating.

The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  was conducted by telephone with 805 New Jersey adults from September 19 to 23, 2012.  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 Asbury Park Press and its sister publications (Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune). 

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.      Do you approve or disapprove of the job Chris Christie is doing as governor?  

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

3.      I’m going to read you a few names.  Please tell me if your general impression of each is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion. [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

         Governor Chris Christie

         Newark Mayor Cory Booker

         State Senate President Steve Sweeney

         State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver

         Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno

         State Senator Barbara Buono

         State Assemblyman John Wisniewski

         State Assemblyman Lou Greenwald

         Congressman Frank Pallone

         Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage

         Former Governor Dick Codey

4.      Looking ahead to next year’s election for Governor, do you think that Chris Christie should be re-elected, or do you think that it is time to have someone else in office?

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

6.      Thinking about Chris Christie’s style and not his policies, does the way he speaks to or about people who disagree with him bother you personally or not bother you?  [If BOTHER:  Is that a lot or just a little?]

7.      Regardless of whether you agree with Chris Christie’s policies, do you think he would have accomplished more, less, or about the same as governor if he acted differently?

8.      How much have you read or heard of recent news on the state’s credit outlook and unemployment rate – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

9.      Has this news affected your confidence in Gov. Christie’s policies, or not really had an effect?  [If AFFECTED:  Have you become more confident or less confident?]


The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on September 19 to 23, 2012 with a statewide random sample of 805 adult residents, including 642 contacted on a landline telephone and 163 on a cell phone.  Live interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc. and the telephone sample was obtained from Survey Sampling International.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis.  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 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

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