Governor Chris Christie's job approval rating, which has been solidly positive for more than a year, has moved significantly higher in the latest Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll . The New Jersey governor gets positive marks for his handling of Superstorm Sandy, while his grades on other state issues have ticked up slightly.
Currently, Governor Christie earns a 67% approve to 21% disapprove job rating among all Garden State residents. Among registered voters, his rating stands at 69% approve to 22% disapprove. In September, his job approval rating was in the mid-50s for both groups.
The 85% of Republicans who give the governor a "thumbs up" are joined by 68% of independents and 57% of Democrats. Prior to this poll, Christie had never broken the 40%-mark among Garden State Democrats. The current results show no evidence of a gender gap which was apparent in past polls - 68% of men and 66% of women approve of the governor's job performance. Christie also gets positive ratings from a majority (52%) of public worker households - the first time this has happened during his tenure.
Now that Gov. Christie has officially thrown his hat into the ring for 2013, fully 6-in-10 (61%) registered voters say that the incumbent deserves a second term, up from 50% in a September poll. By a 2 to 1 margin, residents say that the governor is more focused on governing the state of New Jersey (61%) than he is with his own political future (30%). This is a reversal from February of this year, when more residents said the governor put his own concerns (48%) before the state's (39%).
"While the governor's political ambitions are no secret, his constituents feel they do not necessarily detract from pursuing what is best for the state, especially when it comes to recovering from Sandy," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Specifically, New Jerseyans approve of the way Gov. Christie worked with Pres. Barack Obama after the storm, a move which caused consternation among some national Republican leaders. Overall, 61% of state residents say the governor's cooperation with the president will help the state in the long run. Just 3% say it will hurt New Jersey and 33% say it will have no impact. A similar 60% say that Christie's positive relationship with Obama regarding the storm will actually help the governor's political future. Only 5% believe Christie's ambitions will be hurt by the move and 31% say it will have no impact. Garden State Republicans are somewhat less likely to say the governor's political future will be helped (45%), but not much more likely to say he will actually be hurt (10%) by the Obama association.
Overall, the Christie administration receives very high marks for its handling of Sandy. Fully 61% of New Jerseyans grade these efforts an "A" and 24% give them a "B." Another 7% give a "C" grade and few give a "D" (3%) or "F" (3%).
The Sandy recovery certainly weighs on New Jerseyans' minds, but it is not the only issue facing the state. When asked to name, in their own words, New Jersey's one or two most important issues, residents put property taxes (31%), jobs (30%), and storm recovery (23%) at the top of the list. The economy (19%), education (10%), and health care (8%) are also mentioned by about 1-in-10 residents or more. In a poll conducted earlier this year, property taxes (42%) and jobs (42%) tied for first, with education (20%) and general economic concerns (19%) placing behind.
"Sandy has put its mark on the kickoff for next year's gubernatorial race. The question is which issue will be most important to voters eleven months from now," said Murray.
When it comes to controlling costs and cutting waste, a key issue in Chris Christie's 2009 campaign, the administration gets good grades from a majority of constituents - 17% give an "A" and 37% a "B," while less than 1-in-6 give either a "D" (8%) or "F" (7%). The 54% who give positive grades on this issue is up from 47% in April.
On the issue of education, just under half of New Jerseyans give Gov. Christie an "A" (11%) or "B" (34%) for improving the state's schools, compared to just 2-in-10 who say he has earned only a "D" (10%) or "F" (10%). The 45% who give the governor positive grades on this issue is up from 37% in April.
On the perennial issue of property taxes, though, the governor's grades have hardly moved. More residents still give him a "D" (15%) or "F" (17%) than award him an "A" (7%) or "B" (23%). The 30% positive grades are basically unchanged from 28% in April, although the negative grades are down by 5 points.
New Jerseyans remain pessimistic about property tax reform. Only 39% believe it is likely that they will see significantly lower taxes in the next few years, which is slightly higher than the 35% who felt that way over a year ago (August 2011) but lower than the 49% who felt optimistic about property taxes in July 2010. Gov. Christie's saving grace, though, is that most do not blame him for the current situation. When asked who is most responsible for not bringing down property taxes, 32% of residents select the state legislature. This is nearly twice as many as those who place the lion's share of the blame on municipal governments (18%), the governor (17%), or local school districts (15%).
All in all, more than 4-in-10 (42%) New Jerseyans say the governor can lay claim to major accomplishments in his term so far. This is up from 31% who said the same in September and 24% who felt that way over a year ago (August 2011). Another 41% say the governor can point to minor accomplishments, and just 11% say he has no accomplishments to date.
Other poll findings include President Obama's job approval ratings among the state's registered voters, which now stand at 58% approve to 35% disapprove in New Jersey. It measured 54% approve to 41% disapprove back in April.
The poll also found that the state legislature now has a net positive job rating, 44% approve to 33% disapprove. Opinion was reversed in September - 32% positive to 42% negative. In fact, this is the first net positive rating for the legislature in Monmouth polls going back to 2007, suggesting that Sandy has had a broad impact on improving public opinion of government operations at all levels.
The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by telephone with 816 New Jersey adults from November 29 to December 2, 2012. This sample has a margin of error of ± 3.4 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. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?
4. In your opinion, what are the most important one or two issues facing the state of New Jersey right now? [LIST WAS NOT READ] [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted.]
5. I’d like you to grade the Christie administration on how it has handled specific issues over the past year. 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 Christie administration for [READ ITEM]?
[ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
Controlling costs and cutting waste
Providing property tax relief
Improving our schools
6. And what grade would you give the Christie administration for handling Superstorm Sandy?
7. 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?
8. 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?
9. How likely is it that the state will enact reforms in the next few years to significantly lower property taxes – very, somewhat, not too, or not at all likely?
10. Who is most responsible for NOT bringing down property taxes in New Jersey – the governor, the state legislature, town governments, or local school districts?
11. Do you think Chris Christie is more concerned with governing the state of New Jersey OR more concerned about his own political future? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
[QUESTIONS 12 AND 13 WERE ROTATED]
12. Do you think the way Governor Christie worked with President Obama after Superstorm Sandy will help or hurt the governor’s own political future, or will it have no impact?
13. Do you think the way Governor Christie worked with President Obama after Superstorm Sandy will help or hurt New Jersey in the long run, or will it have no impact?
The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on November 29 to December 2, 2012 with a statewide random sample of 816 adult residents, including 616 contacted on a landline telephone and 200 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 3.4 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.
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