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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Lieutenant Governor Who?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

By her own admission, New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno is decidedly a supporting player in Chris Christie's administration.  However, recent speculation about a Christie presidential run has raised interest in the person who would become governor if the current incumbent stepped aside.  The latest Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll  asked New Jersey residents their opinion of the current lieutenant governor and found the first hurdle to Guadagno's public profile is whether New Jerseyans even know the state has a lieutenant governor.

When asked who steps in when a sitting New Jersey governor resigns or dies in office, fewer than half (44%) of the state's residents can name the office of Lieutenant Governor, while another 4% take a stab with Deputy, Vice, or Assistant Governor.  A few others make incorrect guesses that include the Senate President (2%), Assembly Speaker (1%), and Attorney General (2%).  More than 4-in-10 (46%) admit they simply do not know.

While the number aware of this statewide office seems low, it is much higher than the percentage of Garden State residents who were aware of the line of succession prior to the constitutional change that created the office.  A Monmouth University poll was conducted in October 2005, when then-Senate President Dick Codey was also filling the role of governor and just weeks before the amendment creating the office of lieutenant governor went before New Jersey voters.  That poll found that just 17% of New Jerseyans could correctly identify the Senate President as the person who took over.  Another 18% thought the state already had a lieutenant or deputy governor at the time.

The current Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll  asked New Jerseyans to name the current lieutenant governor.  One-in-five (20%) can name Kim Guadagno and another 24% recognize her name when it is read to them.  Republicans (57%) are somewhat more likely than independents (46%) or Democrats (36%) to demonstrate name recognition of the current lieutenant governor.

"Lieutenant Governor Guadagno can boast a 2 to 1 favorable rating. The problem is that number comes from just 13 percent of the public who feel they know enough about her to give her a rating," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

When asked their opinion of Kim Guadagno, 9% of state residents express a favorable view and 4% have an unfavorable one.  Most New Jerseyans, though, say they either don't have an opinion of the current lieutenant governor (31%) or simply don't recognize her name (56%).  These numbers are comparable to when she was running for office on the Christie ticket.  A mid-October 2009 poll of likely voters put her at 9% favorable, 4% unfavorable, and 87% no opinion/do not recognize.

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     In New Jersey, when a sitting governor resigns or dies in office, who becomes governor?  [LIST WAS NOT READ]

2.     New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor takes over.  Do you happen to know who is the Lieutenant Governor now?  [If NO: The Lieutenant Governor is Kim Guadagno. Have you heard of her before, or not?]

3.     Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, or don’t you really have an opinion about her?

The Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on October 5 to 9, 2011 with a statewide random sample of 817 adult residents, including 714 contacted on a landline telephone and 103 on a cell phone.  Sampling and 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 3.4 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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