Christie’s Budget Costs Him; Approval Rating Slips 9%

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Gov. Chris Christie

STATE—Gov. Chris Christie’s voter approval slipped noticeably from earlier in the month, but he remains ahead, 43% approving to 32% disapproving of the job he’s doing, according to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™.

“It’s a bad time to be governor of any state,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “You’re damned if you cut the budget and damned if you raise taxes.”

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The governor started March with a 52%-21% approval rating before making dramatic announcements of cuts to the state budget. Better than two-thirds of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing, and independents approve by 49%-19%, while Democrats disapprove by 45%-23%. The governor runs ahead in non-public-employee households by 44%-28% and runs behind in public-employee households 37%-49%.

A majority of voters (62%) continue to say the state should “hold the line on spending even if many programs are reduced.” That’s down from 66% in March and down from 70% in January but it is still a three-to-one ratio over the 21% who say the state “should raise taxes if necessary and continue to support state programs.” Voters in public -employee households agree, with three of five (60%) saying the state should hold the line on spending, while just one-in-four (25%) say raise taxes.

Asked about suspending property tax rebates to help balance the budget, 44% say it’s a good idea, while 48% say it’s a bad idea. And 62% say it’s a good idea to change the state constitution to cap property tax increases at 2½ percent. Similarly, 62% say it’s a good idea to increase income tax on households making over $400,000 per year.

Forty percent of voters say, taking everything into account, the governor’s proposed budget is “good for New Jersey” while 30% say it’s bad. Voters in households with no public employees say the governor’s budget is good by a margin of 4-to-3 (39%-27%); voters in public-employee households split 1-to-1 (41%-43%).

Christie also started the month with 47% of voters saying they have a favorable impression of him, and 25% saying their view was unfavorable. But after the budget speech, 38% have a favorable view and 39% have an unfavorable view. However, the one-to-one ratio of favorable-to-unfavorable opinion means he fares no worse than the New Jersey Education Association, which has severely criticized his budget proposals: 35% of New Jersey voters say they have a favorable view of the teachers’ union and 35% have an unfavorable view.

Women have a favorable view of the teachers’ association by 42%-27% while men are more likely to have an unfavorable view of it by a similar margin (27%-44%). Liberals (51%-16%) are more likely than conservatives (23%-53%) to have a favorable view of it, and members of public-employee households are more likely (48%-36%) than non-public-employee households (32%-35%).

The percentage of voters (33%) who say the state is moving in the right direction is unchanged over the month, while those who say it’s on the wrong track are up to 55% from 49%. While a majority of Republicans (53%) say it’s headed in the right direction, two-thirds of Democrats (68%) say it’s on the wrong track.
A third of voters — 34% — continue to say the governor is doing a good or excellent job, down from 39% earlier in the month, and 21% say he’s doing a poor job, up from 13% earlier in the month. While 17% of non-public-employee households rate his performance as poor, 36% of public-employee households rate his performance as poor.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 802 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from March 23, 2010, through March 28, 2010, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.


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