Gov. Chris Christie’s approval ratings have dropped to their lowest level yet, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
About 26 percent of New Jersey registered voters have a favorable opinion of Christie – down three points since February. An estimated sixty-four percent of voters are unfavorable toward the governor, up five points since February and now the highest percentage since Christie first took office.
Christie’s support continues to drop among his own party base: 56 percent of Republicans feel favorable toward the governor, a seven-point decline since the last poll two months ago. Thirty-four percent say they are unfavorable. Independents and Democrats continue to be mostly unfavorable at 63 percent and 87 percent, respectively.
Voters are kinder in their ratings for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez than they are to Christie, even in the face of Menendez’s ongoing federal indictment. While only 29 percent are favorable toward the senior senator, just 32 percent are outright unfavorable, and 39 percent have no opinion. Not even Republicans reach a majority in their opposition to Menendez, a stark constraint to the nine in 10 Democrats who feel the same about Christie.
Voters are most positive toward U.S. Sen. Cory Booker: 48 percent are favorable, 23 percent are unfavorable, and another 30 percent have no opinion. Sixty-four percent of Democrats, 47 percent of independents, and 26 percent of Republicans like Booker.
“Among the New Jersey politicians we poll, Governor Christie continues to generate the most negativity among voters, even more so than the state’s currently indicted senator,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “Not even Christie’s backing of Donald Trump has helped him with New Jersey Republicans, who give Trump higher ratings than Christie and are now more likely than ever to vote for Trump come June.”
When voters are asked to justify their ratings, favorable and unfavorable voters alike point to Christie’s character, his overall job as governor, and his honesty. Among those who are favorable, 35 percent like Christie because of the overall job he is doing, 16 percent mention something about him being honest and trustworthy, 13 percent point to his character and attitude, and 11 percent reference his policy decisions.
Among those who are unfavorable, 15 percent point to his character, personality, or attitude as the main reason behind their negative rating, and another seven percent say something about his confrontational, bully-like persona. An additional 15 percent cite Christie’s overall job as governor and his governing style. Fourteen percent say he is dishonest and untrustworthy. Other negative reasons include his lack of care for New Jersey (nine percent), his handling of education and teachers (eight percent), his policy decisions and actions (seven percent), his ineffectiveness (six percent), and his handling of unions and state workers (four percent). Just three percent mention something about his support for Donald Trump as a reason for their unfavorable rating, and another three percent mention Christie’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
“Negativity toward Christie continues to grow, but not entirely because of his support for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump or his own involvement with the 2016 election cycle,” said Koning. “Instead, Christie’s unpopularity stems from the same longstanding reasons that voters have cited in both their praise and condemnation of him throughout his tenure – reasons that disenchanted voters emphasize now more than ever two months after Christie’s return to governing full time.”
Voters remain mostly negative about the state’s overall direction: 31 percent continue to believe New Jersey is headed in the right direction, while 60 percent say the state has gone off on the wrong track. About six in 10 voters have consistently said the state is on the wrong track since April 2015.
Taxes persist as the most important problem in New Jersey, consistently taking the top spot over the economy and jobs since October 2014.
Polling results are from a statewide poll of 886 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from April 1 to 8, 2016.