Christie’s Approval Rating Up Slightly; Booker, Codey Are Best-Known Potential Challengers

Gov. Chris Christie

STATE – Gov. Chris Christie’s job approval rating is up slightly in the latest Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll. Currently, 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 since a July poll.

With the next gubernatorial election more than a year away, 50% of registered Garden State voters are willing to say that 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.

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. Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, familiar to just 10% of registered voters, has a +2 net rating, with 6% favorable and 4% unfavorable.

“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 Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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.

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 Murray.

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 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.

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).

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