Most think New Jersey is worse off because of Gov. Christie

The past few weeks have been no day at the beach for New Jersey’s governor… except for that day at the beach, of course. The latest Monmouth University Poll finds Chris Christie’s job rating at an all-time low, although he avoids the ignominy of single-digit approval.

Christie’s behavior during the recent state shutdown did him no favors among his Garden State constituents, with two-thirds expressing negative views about his day at the shore. A majority of the public feels that New Jersey is worse off now because of Christie’s time in office.

Currently, just 15% of New Jersey adults approve of the job Christie is doing as governor while 80% disapprove. Only 30% of Christie’s fellow Republicans give positive marks to his job performance, joining just 15% of independents and only 7% of Democrats who feel the same. Both the state legislature – 23% approve and 61% disapprove – and Pres. Donald Trump – 35% approve and 58% disapprove – garner better ratings than Christie. Monmouth’s prior Christie rating was taken just over a year ago (27% approve and 63% disapprove in May 2016).

“It really is difficult to drive approval ratings into the single digits barring something like a criminal conviction. However, you have to admire Christie’s seeming tenacity for trying to get his numbers down to that level,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “In reality, Christie may have found the floor for his ratings, but it’s a level where most of his constituents now feel his time on office has hurt the state.”

The poll   found that a majority of Garden State residents (55%) feel the state is actually worse off because of Christie’s time as governor. This marks a significant increase from a year ago when 41% felt this way. Just 15% say the state is better off today because of Christie’s tenure and 28% say it is about the same as it was before he took office.

When asked to assign blame for this month’s government shutdown, most New Jerseyans (54%) actually find the governor and the state legislature equally at fault for the budget standoff. Another 28% put more of the blame on Christie and 14% put more of the blame on the legislature. On the other hand, Christie’s R&R on a state beach that was closed to the public received decidedly negative reviews from the overwhelming majority of Garden State residents.

Fully 86% have seen the photos of Christie sitting on the beach with his family during the government shutdown. When asked to describe how those images made them feel, two-thirds of the public expressed a negative sentiment, with “disgusted” (7%) being the most commonly used word. Anger (7%) and disbelief (6%) were also frequently mentioned themes. Nearly 1-in-5 residents described their reaction in terms of the governor’s character, using words such as “selfish” (5%), “hypocrite” (4%), and “arrogant” (3%). Another 6% of those polled simply used some form of profanity to express their sentiments about Christie’s beach day. Fewer than 1-in-10 New Jerseyans have anything positive to say or even report not being bothered by the incident in any way.

“This is New Jerseyans telling it like it is, but the governor has said that he basically doesn’t care what they think. This just confirms what most of his constituents have suspected for the past three years,” said Murray.

About 8-in-10 Garden State residents (79%) feel that Christie puts his own political future before the good of the state. Just 14% say he is more concerned with governing New Jersey. These results are basically in line with public opinion over the past two years.

Specifically on the state budget stalemate, two-thirds of New Jerseyans (66%) were aware that the shutdown was caused by disagreement over a proposal to change how the Horizon Blue Cross health insurance provider operates. Overall, only 16% of the public are inclined to believe the official line that this legislation was motivated by a desire to make Horizon more transparent. Most (54%) think it was probably driven by some sort of political payback against the insurer. Among those who were already aware that Horizon was at the center of the budget impasse, just 18% say the proposal was about transparency and fully 63% say it was about political payback.

“Neither the governor nor the bill’s legislative sponsors made a persuasive case about why this bill was necessary, especially to Horizon subscribers who are largely satisfied with their insurance provider,” said Murray.

More than 8-in-10 New Jerseyans report being satisfied with their current health insurance provider. This includes 90% of Horizon subscribers – 48% very satisfied and 42% somewhat satisfied – and 84% of those who hold policies with other providers – 48% very satisfied and 36% somewhat satisfied.

The Monmouth University Poll  also measured public opinion of New Jersey’s two U.S. senators. Cory Booker earns a 49% approve and 30% disapprove rating. Bob Menendez, who is currently under indictment, earns a 41% approve and 35% disapprove rating. Both senators’ ratings are largely within the range of where they have been for the past two years, although Booker’s “disapprove” number has gone up as he has become better known within the state.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from July 6 to 9, 2017 with 800 New Jersey adults.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

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