STATE — New Jersey voters split in their opinions of Gov. Chris Christie, with 44% approving of the way he is handling his job as governor and 42% disapproving, according to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™.
The figure of 44% approving is essentially unchanged from 43% reported on March 30. The figure of 42% disapproving is up ten percentage points from March 30. Those with mixed views declined by ten points to 15% from 25%. Meanwhile, public employee households disapprove of the governor by a margin of 58-33, and non-public employee households approve by 48-36. Overall, 23% approve “strongly” and 28% disapprove “strongly.”
“The spam is hitting the fan,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “As the breadth and depth of the budget cuts becomes known, people have hardened in their opinions.”
More than a third (37%) rate the job Christie is doing as “good” or “excellent,” similar to 34% in the previous measurement. But another one-third (33%) rate his job performance as “poor,” an increase of 12 points. Those rating him as “only fair” declined to 23% from 31%, and those unsure declined to 7% from 14%. Half of public employee households (50%) rate the governor’s performance as “poor,” compared to just one quarter of all other households (27%). And 43% of public employee households report they’ve heard “a great deal” about the governor’s proposed budget compared to 24% of other households.
The governor’s legislative nemeses are largely unknown: four of five (81%) have not heard, or have no opinion, of Senate President Stephen Sweeney and 95% have not heard, or have no opinion, of Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. Likewise, Justice John Wallace and court nominee Anne Patterson, the subjects of Trenton controversy for the governor, are off the radar screen of most voters. However, Newark’s Democratic mayor, Cory Booker, stands out with a favorable rating of 42% compared to 6% unfavorable.
Three of five voters (60%) continue to say the state should hold the line on spending even if many programs are reduced, while just a quarter (23%) say the state should raise taxes if necessary and continue to support state programs.
Asked about limiting public employees to accruing no more than two years vacation time, 74% say it’s a good idea, while 23% say it’s a bad idea. Three of five (60%) also say it’s a good idea to cap public employee salary increases at 2.5 percent, though public employee households split evenly on the question (46-46). Similarly, 61% say it’s a good idea to raise the retirement age for public employees to 65 years of age from 62, while 33% disagree, and public employees split again (45-51). By a two-to-one margin (64%-31%) voters say it’s a good idea to ask school teachers not to take a pay increase for the coming year, and public employee households agree (57-36). And a majority (53) say it’s a good idea to move school elections to November from April, while 18% disagree.
Two of five (41%) voters say, taking everything into account, the governor’s proposed budget is “good for New Jersey” unchanged from late March after the governor made many of his proposals known, while about the same proportion (37%) say it’s bad, up seven points from March.
The percentage of voters who say the state is moving in the right direction, 35%, is essentially unchanged, as is the percentage of voters who say the state is on the wrong track (55%).
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 654 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from May 19, 2010, through May 23, 2010, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
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