Category Archives: Chris Christie


Click here for a PDF of the release with questions and tables.

Perceptions of governor’s trustworthiness, other positive traits, continue to decline

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Trust in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has continued to decline further after hitting an all-time low last March, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 22 percent of Garden State voters now say “trustworthy” describes Christie “very well.” Another 35 percent think it applies only “somewhat well.” Nearly 40 percent say the character trait no longer applies to the governor.

By comparison, 43 percent said trustworthy applied to Christie very well a month before his November 2013 re-election, and 32 percent said somewhat well. Only 20 percent thought it did not apply at all. Immediately following January’s “Bridgegate” revelations, the share of voters holding this position plunged 16 percentage points; it has since declined an additional five points.

“Not that long ago, voters were very likely to see Christie as trustworthy. This was especially noteworthy given how little people trust most politicians,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers. “Bridgegate, of course, changed that view for many. And once trust is lost, it can be hard to recover.”

Perceptions of Christie as a “strong leader,” “effective,” and “fair,” which all took significant hits immediately after the G.W. Bridge lane-closing story broke, have also continued to decline.

Nearly half (47 percent) of voters still say strong leader applies very well to Christie, but this is down 19 points since October 2013 with half the drop coming immediately after Bridgegate. Views of Christie as effective are also down 19 points to 31 percent of voters who now say the word applies very well, but two-thirds of that decline has come in the past several months. The 27 percent who say fair fits very well is a 14-point drop since October 2013, with most of the decline coming immediately following the news about Bridgegate.

“The controversy surrounding the lane closures in Ft. Lee had an immediate impact on nearly every assessment of Christie, with positive trait assessments continuing to fall since,” said Redlawsk. “This may be a key to the governor’s overall favorability and job performance ratings decline. People care about issues but they also look for important character traits in assessing their leaders.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 734 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.

Negative perceptions of Christie stable since January

Besides seeing Christie as less trustworthy and effective, voters have lowered their opinion of the governor regarding other positive character traits since January. Fifty-three percent now say “smart” fits him very well, a decline of five points. Only 25 percent, a new low, call “reformer” a very apt label, and just under half still see Christie as “independent.” Sixty-two percent still consider “fighter” a very appropriate description, but even this represents a 10-point drop in the past year.

Unlike positive traits, voters’ perceptions of negative traits that might apply to Christie have changed little since an initial increase in the immediate Bridgegate aftermath. Sixty-seven percent of respondents now say “stubborn” fits very well, the highest total to date and a 13-point increase during the past 12 months. The change has been only three points since January, however.

More than half (54 percent) of voters now think “arrogant” applies very well to Christie, just three points higher than in January, but up eight points in a year. “Self-centered” is unchanged from January’s poll, when an 11-point increase brought the total to 47 percent who thought the description applied very well. Perceptions of Christie as a bully are now at 42 percent, nearly flat since January, when they had climbed nine points to 43 percent who saw the term as applying very well.

Voters’ emotional responses to Christie also remain steady since January, after significant decreases in positive feelings and increases in negative feelings following Bridgegate. About a third of voters say they are proud and enthusiastic when they read or hear about the governor, similar to January. Worry, at 45 percent of voters, is up a few points, and anger, at 37 percent, has subsided a bit since earlier this year.

A closer look at three traits

While the poll examined a wide range of positive and negative traits, Redlawsk said what voters most want their officeholders to be are “effective, trustworthy, and strong leaders.”

“As perceptions of these traits become less positive – especially among independents and co-partisans – leaders can lose key bases of support. We may be seeing exactly that over what has become a long year for Christie since last fall’s victory,” he said.


Republicans and men are significantly fueling the declines in perceptions in Christie’s trustworthiness. Republicans show the biggest drop since last October: 27 points to 48 percent saying it fits very well today. Most of this damage occurred right after Bridgegate. Among independents, trust as a particularly apt descriptor dropped 23 points in the past year, to 21 percent. Fewer than 10 percent of Democrats, who always have had misgivings about Christie, still ascribe trustworthiness to him.

Unlike the 19-point drop in trustworthiness among women, most of which came between October 2013 and January 2014, the 23-point drop among men has occurred more gradually. Today, 23 percent of women and 20 percent of men think trustworthy applies very well to the governor.


Republicans, at 55 percent, are now 23 points less likely to say the label effective applies very well to Christie than one year ago. Independents’ perceptions of effectiveness have dropped 22 points in the same period, to 31 percent. Democrats show a 12-point decline, with 19 percent now saying effective describes Christie very well.

Perceptions of effectiveness among men, who typically have been stronger Christie supporters than women, have dropped by 22 points; for women the drop has been 15 points. Among the former group, most of the decline has been in recent months.

Strong Leader

Perceptions of Christie as a strong leader, which skyrocketed following Superstorm Sandy, are down 25 points (to 48 percent saying the term fits very well) over the past year among independent voters. Among Republicans, the drop is 18 points, although 75 percent still say strong leader describes Christie very well. Just 29 percent of Democrats agree, down 15 points since last October. For Republicans, unlike Democrats and independents, most of this drop occurred immediately after Bridgegate.

Only 48 percent of men now say strong leader fits Christie very well, a decline of 22 points in a year. During the same period, women show a 17-point decline to 46 percent, all but erasing the small gender gap that once existed.

“After Bridgegate crushed Christie’s overall ratings, we saw a small rebound this past spring and summer,” said Redlawsk. “But the continuing loss of support on these key traits, especially among Republicans and men, appears to have caught up with overall perceptions of the governor’s favorability and job performance, helping to drag down both of these ratings.”


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Today we release the first of two analyses of assessments of NJ Gov. Chris Christie we carried out as part of our new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. In today’s release we focus on Christie’s favorability ratings and job performance. The former has dropped to lowest point we have yet recorded for the governor; 42 percent of NJ voters have a favorable impression while 45 percent feel unfavorable. Christie’s overall job performance rating is also down, but remains slightly positive at 50 percent approval to 46 percent disapproval. Perhaps more critically, approval of Christie’s performance on a range of top issues is quite negative and declining. On taxes, just 33 percent approve the governor’s job performance, with 38 percent approving his work on the economy and 39 percent on education. The numbers are simply not good for a governor who a year ago was riding high toward an overwhelming re-election.

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with questions and tables.


Governor’s favorability among registered voters drops seven points in two months

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – For the first time since August 2011, more New Jersey voters have an unfavorable impression of Gov. Chris Christie than a favorable one, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Following a seven-point decline during the past two months, just 42 percent of registered voters now feel favorable toward the governor, while 45 percent feel unfavorable.

“This is the lowest favorability rating we have ever recorded for Christie, below the 44 percent of August 2011,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “What had seemed like a small rebound following Christie’s Bridgegate ratings collapse now looks more like a temporary blip.”

While remaining slightly positive, Christie’s overall job approval rating is also dropping, falling three more points to 49 percent, with 46 percent disapproving, up five points.
Voters say taxes (24 percent), and the economy and jobs (21 percent) are the top two concerns, followed by corruption and abuse of power (16 percent) and education (12 percent). Underlying Christie’s decline is a roughly eight-month drop on three of these top issues: taxes (down 10 points to 33 percent approval), the economy (down three points to 38 percent) and education (down 10 points to 39 percent).

In addition, voters remain negative about Christie’s handling of the budget (down six points from a January 2014 poll, to 37 percent approval) and the pension crisis (24 percent approval, unchanged since first asked in August 2014.)

Only approval of Christie’s performance on Sandy recovery has shown significant improvement, rebounding to 60 percent from 54 percent last February. Approval of his handling of crime and drugs is up an insignificant two points to 52 percent over nearly the same period.

“The last time New Jerseyans were more negative than positive toward Christie the pension reform bill had just been signed, Christie had begun pushing a voter-supported teacher-tenure package and, there had been no Superstorm Sandy,” noted Redlawsk. “But the good will he piled up after acting on those voter supported issues, and his handling of Sandy, has vanished. By nearly every measure we have, Christie is losing support.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 734 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.

Top problems: taxes and the economy

Analysis of voters’ two top concerns shed some light on Christie’s ratings decline. While Republicans remain about 20 points more positive than negative on the governor’s performance on taxes and the economy, Democrats and independents have a different perspective. On taxes, 20 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of independents approve of Christie’s performance; 74 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents disapprove. On the economy and jobs, 27 percent of Democrats approve and 68 percent disapprove. Thirty-seven percent of independents approve, 53 percent do not.

Among the 24 percent who call taxes the most important problem, Christie does quite well: a 60-29 percent favorability rating, and a 63-33 percent overall job approval rating. Yet these same voters are very negative on Christie’s actual performance on taxes: 35 percent approve of his work while 57 percent disapprove.

A similar pattern emerges on the economy; the 21 percent who care the most give a 50-46 percent overall job approval rating and split 44 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable on impressions of Christie. But like voters focused on taxes, these respondents hit Christie hard on their key issue: 29 percent approve Christie’s work on the economy while 65 percent disapprove.

Redlawsk identified GOP voters’ strong overall support for Christie as a cause of this odd pattern. “For Republicans, partisan preference overrides specific job performance,” he said. “We see a huge 25-point-plus gap between Republicans’ overall ratings of Christie and their evaluations on taxes and the economy. They may be much less supportive of the governor’s actions on these issues, but this does not interfere with supporting their fellow Republican.”
Democrats, and to a lesser extent independents, have become more consistent in connecting their general ratings of the governor with disapproval of his specific performance on issues, Redlawsk added. “The much smaller gap between job approval and assessments on top issues for these voters leads to the very negative ratings we find when we look at all voters who care most about taxes and the economy.”

Partisanship and ratings

The share of Democrats with a positive impression of Christie has fallen seven points to 21 percent since last August and 37 percent since a high point in February 2013. Since August, favorability among independents has dropped eight points to 44 percent, and among Republicans five points to 74 percent. At Christie’s high point 20 months ago, 71 percent of independents and 88 percent of Republicans, respectively, felt favorably.

“The partisan favorability gap has skyrocketed to 53 points, as Democratic negativity has greatly increased since Bridgegate,” said Redlawsk. “But Christie is also losing independents at a growing rate, which threatens to undermine his image as a leader with broad support.”

Because some voters who dislike Christie still give him positive job ratings, his general job approval remains more positive than negative. But this partisan gap has also grown to 53 points: 80 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of Democrats and just over half of independent voters approve.

Where support weakens

Christie’s favorability and job support ratings among men have each fallen nine points the past two months; approval and disapproval of his overall job performance each stand at 47 percent, while 41 percent of men feel favorable about him. His favorability among women has declined four points to 44 percent, while they still approve of his job performance, 50 percent to 46 percent, virtually unchanged since August. Among urban voters, Christie’s job approval now stands at 31 percent, an 11-point tumble since August; 65 percent disapprove. Over the same period, suburban voters’ approval of Christie’s job performance fell seven points to 44 percent. Half of suburban voters now disapprove of how the governor does his job.

Christie’s report card: New lows

Since a pre-Bridgegate poll in November 2013, Christie’s job performance grades have plunged: only 10 percent now award him A, his smallest-ever share of the top grade and an 11-point drop. One-quarter of registered voters grade him B, also among the lowest total ever. C grades now dominate at 28 percent. The percentage of voters assigning D (16 percent) and F (19 percent) grades has climbed since last November, when only 8 percent of respondents failed the governor.

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Click here for a PDF of the full release text with tables and questions.

Voters Remain Negative about ‘Bridgegate,’ Other Allegations; But Half Say Christie is Putting Scandals behind him

 Most say allegations are politics as usual, investigation a waste of time

 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Seven months after the George Washington Bridge scandal burst Gov. Chris Christie’s ratings bubble, almost half of New Jersey voters continue to doubt the governor’s explanation of what happened. According to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, 47 percent of registered voters say they do not believe Christie at all, while another 24 percent say they somewhat believe him and just 23 percent say they fully believe him. Six percent are unsure.

More than half of respondents say Bridgegate and allegations of misuse of Port Authority and Sandy funding are serious for Christie, with 39 percent saying “very serious” and 17 percent saying “extremely serious.” But 27 percent say the allegations are not very serious, while 14 percent say not serious at all. Despite the net negative view, voters have shifted slightly in Christie’s favor since April. The percentage thinking the allegations are extremely serious has dropped nine points, while “not at all serious” is up seven points.

There has not been the same shift on how damaging Bridgegate and other issues have been to Christie’s presidential ambitions, however. Almost seven in 10 voters still think these allegations are either very (20 percent) or somewhat (48 percent) damaging. Only 18 percent believe they are not very damaging and just 11 percent say not damaging at all.

Nevertheless, 51 percent of voters think the governor has been mostly successful in putting these allegations behind him, though 40 percent disagree. Nearly three-quarters of voters call the allegations “just politics as usual” and not unique to the Christie administration; 60 percent think the ongoing legislative investigation is a waste of time.

“Governor Christie is trying very hard to put all of this behind him as he appear to be exploring a presidential campaign,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Whether he is succeeding is still unclear. Most voters agree that the legislative investigation is a waste of time, but they also think the allegations are serious and have potential to derail him. If any indictments related to the various allegations come down, all bets are off. If not, Christie may well become a GOP front-runner again.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 871 New Jerseyans contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from July 28 to Aug. 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 750 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points.

Republicans stand by their governor but see damage to 2016 aspirations

Christie’s believability in the “Bridgegate” scandal has not recovered since voters generally panned the January press conference where Christie said he was unaware of the lane closings. They remain skeptical and see the mounting allegations as problematic for Christie. Views on Christie’s role and its repercussions are, of course, particularly divided by partisanship: 11 percent of Democrats fully believe the governor’s explanation and another 16 percent somewhat believe him, while 68 percent do not at all. Republicans say just the opposite – though to a slightly lesser extent – split between fully (47 percent) and somewhat believing (35 percent). Independents resemble the population as a whole. Christie also has more credibility with those favorable toward him and who approve of the job he is doing overall, but again to a lesser extent than the total disbelief of his more passionate detractors.

“The fact that fewer than half of GOP voters fully believe Christie is a problem waiting to happen,” said Redlawsk. “He needs a strong party base to run for president. If Republican voters in New Jersey are even somewhat skeptical, there might be an opening for his GOP challengers to define him by these allegations. It’s important to remember that a full-blown presidential campaign has not yet started, and the inevitable attacks have not begun in earnest.”

Perceptions of how serious the various allegations are for Christie also depend on the same set of factors. Just under three-quarters of Democrats believe the allegations are at least somewhat serious. GOP voters now believe the events to be less serious than they did earlier this year, a positive sign for the governor. Four in 10 Republicans say the claims of wrongdoing are not very serious for Christie and another quarter say they are not at all. Those unfavorable towards Christie, who disapprove of the job he is doing, or do not believe his explanation are stronger in their belief that the allegations are serious than Christie’s supporters are that they are not serious.

Christie’s potential 2016 run may be hampered because voters of all partisan leanings are at least somewhat likely to think the allegations are damaging to a campaign for president. Almost 80 percent of Democrats see the ongoing controversies as somewhat or very damaging to Christie’s aspirations, as do 62 percent of independents. But even a majority of Republicans agree, with 52 percent seeing this as somewhat damaging while another 12 percent find the allegations very damaging to his potential campaign. Over half of every demographic thinks this has all been at least somewhat damaging to the governor’s 2016 hopes, even among Christie’s biggest supporters.

“Voters still do not fully believe the governor’s claims, and while most Republicans do not see the events as very serious, they do think his potential presidential campaign has been damaged,” said Redlawsk. “In this context, the views of Republicans are most important, since Christie has to first survive what is likely to be a brutal Republican 2016 primary season, before worrying about what Democrats think.”

Christie, voters want to leave scandals behind

Even as they say the allegations are serious and his campaign has been damaged, voters nonetheless think Christie himself has been mostly successful in putting the potential scandals behind him, most likely due to his continual and adamant denials and even his playful brushing aside of the controversies on late night television. Three-quarters of Republicans and just over half of independents say Christie has been mostly successful, as do 35 percent of Democrats. Fifty-five percent of Democrats take the opposite view. At least a plurality of nearly every other key demographic group says he has been mostly successful. Among detractors, Christie gets at least a third vouching for his successful dismissal of the scandals. “Perhaps Christie’s dancing and joking with Jimmy Fallon has made some difference,” suggested Redlawsk.

Voters also seem to be growing tired of the legislative investigation. While the desire to continue investigating is somewhat determined by personal views of Christie, even 41 percent of Democrats say it’s time for the Legislature to move on. Eighty-two percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents feel the same. Fifty-five percent of Democrats want the investigation to continue.

Even those who do not believe Christie’s Bridgegate explanation at all are split – 51 percent say keep investigating, versus 47 percent who say it is a waste of time.

The governor’s supporters and detractors alike agree that these scandals are not unique to the Christie administration. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans, 78 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats think this is just politics as usual. Even those unfavorable toward Christie, disapproving of him, and most skeptical of his explanation feel the same.

“At some level, voters probably expect political scandals here in New Jersey, so maybe this just doesn’t seem particularly different,” noted Redlawsk. “Moreover, most of the claims are about ‘payback’ in some form or another, and voters already tend to think politicians act this way on a regular basis.”

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Today’s Rutgers-Eagleton Poll release focuses on Gov. Chris Christie’s job performance and perceptions of his likelihood of running for president in 2016. As most willr ecall, before the George Washington Bridge and related scandals occurred, the governor was riding high in job performance ratings following what was almost unanimously considered good work on the Superstorm Sandy recovery.  But along came the Ft. Lee lane closings, claims on favoritism in Sandy relief efforts, and investigations by various prosecutors. The Governor’s favorability and overall job ratings took a huge hit in January, returning to pre-Sandy levels. At the same time, his ratings on individual issues (other than Sandy) dropped much less, but except for Sandy they were never very high to start with. Essentially, his overwhelmingly positive Sandy performance held up his overall ratings regardless of how people felt about specific issues.

Today’s release shows little recovery, but relatively little continued decline either. Notably, 52 percent say they approve of Christie’s overall job performance, but except for Sandy recovery(ticking up 6 points to 59 percent approval), no other issue area we ask about gets majority approval. And a couple have dropped even further: ratings on budget (38 percent approval) and taxes (34 percent approval) dropped 5 points since April. And while little changed, Christie’s rating on the economy and jobs is nothing to trumpet, as just 39 percent approve his work there. We also asked about the “state’s pension crisis” and found just 24 percent approve how Christie is handling that task.

The full text of the release follows. You can get a PDF of the release with text, tables, and questions by clicking here.



Despite ratings voters think Christie already preparing for 2016 run

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ramps up his travel schedule to states like Iowa and New Hampshire, back home his overall job approval continues to hover just above 50 percent, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Remaining well below his post-Superstorm Sandy high of 73 percent, 52 percent of registered New Jersey voters now approve of the job Christie is doing overall, a slight dip from his 55 percent approval in April. Forty-one percent disapprove and 7 percent are unsure.

But voters’ approval of the job Christie is doing on specific issues is a different story, with more disapproving than approving in most areas. At 59 percent approval, Hurricane Sandy recovery is Christie’s highest rating, though a far cry from his high of 87 percent in April 2013. Perceptions of Christie’s performance on the state pension fund crisis, asked for the first time this poll, are particularly negative, with 53 percent disapproving of Christie’s handling of the issue; only 24 percent approve.

Despite lukewarm job ratings and an embattled past few months for the governor, 57 percent of voters expect Christie to run for president in 2016; only 29 percent believe he will not, while another 14 percent are unsure. Most say Christie’s preparations for a possible presidential bid are influencing how he does his job: 48 percent say his decisions on state issues are more about his potential candidacy while 38 percent say he is only doing what is best for New Jersey.

More than half see Christie’s travelling and fundraising for the Republican Governors Association – which has conveniently taken him to some must-visit locations for 2016 – as having no effect on his job as governor, but just over a third say that this has hurt his ability to effectively carry out his current duties.

“As Governor Christie clearly lays the groundwork for a possible presidential run, the results in New Jersey are a mixed bag,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “While Christie gets a positive overall rating – one that is pretty good for a Republican in an otherwise Democratic state – concerns about specific issues are quite high and have the potential to drive down his overall support over time.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 871 New Jerseyans contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from July 28 to Aug. 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 750 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points.

GOP voters less positive on specific issues

While voters have a generally positive opinion on Christie’s job performance, they are much more negative on many specific issues. Beyond the 59 percent positive Sandy recovery ratings, which are much lower than before the Bridgegate scandal, things go downhill with fewer than 50 percent approval in all other areas examined: pension fund crisis, 24 percent approval; taxes, 34 percent; state budget, 38 percent; economy/jobs, 39 percent. More positively, 45 percent approve Christie’s performance on education, and 48 percent approve his work on crime and drugs.

Approval ratings on Christie’s efforts on education, crime, and the economy have held steady since the last Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in April. But ratings on the state budget and taxes have declined by 5 points over the past four months. Over the same time, positive assessments of the governor’s performance on Superstorm Sandy recovery have rebounded 6 points.

Democrats are least positive about Christie’s job performance on the state budget (22 percent), taxes (18 percent), and the pension fund crisis (11 percent). They are positive only about Sandy recovery, 49 percent approve while 40 percent disapprove.

More than half of Republicans approve of Christie in most of the issue areas examined, with the highest approval, 71 percent, going for Sandy. The only exception is Republicans’ mixed views on the state pension fund crisis, where only 42 percent approve how Christie is handling the issue, while 36 percent disapprove, and another 23 percent are unsure. Independents are least likely to approve of Christie on this issue: 27 percent approve to 52 percent disapprove. According to Redlawsk, while Republicans remain more positive about specific issues than do Democrats and independents, even they report less positive ratings on the individual issues than they do overall.

Christie’s ratings moving in narrow band

Post-Bridgegate, Christie’s overall job approval continues to trend over a very small range: just over 50 percent among all voters, with Democrats remaining mostly against (60 percent approve) and Republicans mostly in support (78 percent approve). Independents continue to generally approve Christie’s job performance, 57 percent to 37 percent. Redlawsk noted that before Superstorm Sandy, Christie’s favorability ratings never went above 50 percent or below 44 percent, and his job performance grades were similar. “We seem to be back to the same basic pattern,” Redlawsk added. “Over the past six months, overall job approval for Christie has ranged between 52 and 55 percent, with little variation, essentially resetting to pre-Sandy numbers.”

Women voters are less positive about Christie’s job performance: 49 percent approval to 44 percent disapproval. Men are more positive; 56 percent approve while 37 disapprove. Millennials are more divided than any other age group, with 47 percent approving Christie’s work while 44 percent disapprove. Christie continues to score higher ratings among Sandy-battered regions that are also Republican strongholds, with 55 percent of exurban area voters and 61 percent of shore-dwellers approving his overall performance.

Partisanship, overall views affect attitude toward Christie’s 2016 preparations

With the buzz that currently surrounds Christie and recent activities hinting he will run, more than half of every demographic group tested believes Christie will throw his hat in the ring for 2016. Whether his recent decisions are about a potential run or more about what is right for the state is the source of some disagreement.

Not surprisingly, just over six in 10 Christie supporters believe the governor continues to “do what’s best for the state” with his recent decisions to sign or veto bills, even as he prepares for a possible GOP primary run. But nearly eight in 10 of voters who are negative about Christie say his actions have been more about setting up a potential presidential bid.

Partisans take opposite sides; 62 percent of Republicans take the “best for New Jersey” view, versus the 61 percent of Democrats who think his decisions are about a presidential run. Independents are more split. Forty percent say Christie is doing what is best for New Jersey; 47 percent see his actions as related to a presidential campaign. Half of women believe Christie’s decisions are in preparation for 2016, compared to 45 percent of men. Thirty-three percent of women think he’s doing what’s best for the state, while 44 percent of men feel the same.

Opinions are similarly divided regarding how Christie’s travel schedule has affected his ability to govern: 75 percent of Republicans say his frequent trips have no effect, but more than a third of independents and 45 percent of Democrats say it has hurt his ability to govern effectively.

Those who view the governor favorably and approve of his job performance overall (both at 73 percent) are much more likely to say there has been no effect. Christie’s detractors (56 percent) and those critical of his job overall (57 percent) think differently.

“Christie is clearly gearing up in case he decides to run,” said Redlawsk. “There is no other good reason for a governor of New Jersey – even one leading the Republican Governor’s Association – to spend the time he has in Iowa, New Hampshire and even Mexico. Voters seem to recognize this, and while Republicans in New Jersey are pretty upbeat about it, Democrats and independents are much less so, and much more certain that the choices Christie makes today are about his future tomorrow.”


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Correction for our August 7 Release

A routine review of the processes we are using to create weights for our data for the current poll has turned up a problem that affected the release on NJ voters attitudes toward Gov. Chris Christie and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton as 2016 presidential candidates we put out on August 7 (see the corrected release here.) Fortunately, the error resulted in no change to our analysis of the results of the poll, but we do see some of our point estimates move up or down a small amount, primarily due to rounding up where we previously rounded down. We routinely round to the nearest percentage point, so if a point estimate is 39.4, we report 39%, while if it is at 39.6, we round up to 40%. We round like this because given a roughly 4-point margin of error, tenths of a percentage are inappropriate precision, especially because each tenth represents less than one person in our typical sample.

The somewhat technical details are these. The error crept in because of the change we reported in how we calculate our weights. Previously we only weighted based on demographics. Starting with EP193 we are now creating an initial “frame weight” that adjusts for the fact that we include both cell and landline phones in the sample, and thus some people have a greater likelihood of being chosen than others (those with both, versus those with only one or the other.)

The frame weight starts by examining the share of all cell and landline phones that are represented in our sample, and this is where the error occurred. Due to an inadvertent oversight, the baseline for the total number of cell phones and landline phones in New Jersey was incorrectly entered into the calculation.  As a result the weight given to cells versus landline phones in our frame weight was incorrect. This error was perpetuated through the rest of the weighting process, throwing off our point estimates by very small, but sometimes noticeable, amounts.

Even though the effects are small and our analyses of the results remains unchanged, it is important that we note and correct this error. The corrected release now contains the following at the end.

Advisory: This release is a corrected version of the release of August 7, 2014. Due to an inadvertent error in calculating weights, some results were reported incorrectly. Most results were correct; while a few numbers used in the original release changed less than one percentage point. However, because of rounding to the nearest percentage point, some results moved up or down one or two points. Key changes include revising the Clinton-Christie match-up from 50%-40% to 51% to 40%. Clinton’s favorable rating should have been reported at 54% favorable instead of 53%, while Christie’s favorable rating should have been reported at 49% instead of 50%. In addition the reported weighted demographics of the sample have changed slightly, including increasing the rounded share of Democrats by 2 points to 33%, and decreasing the share of independents by 2 points to 48% and Republicans by one point to 19%.  Women should have been reported as 54% of the sample instead of 52% and men 46% instead of 48%. These corrected demographics actually better represent NJ voters than did the original reports.

We are sorry about the error and are redoubling our efforts to ensure such errors do not occur again. This particular error only occurred in our latest poll and its first data release. The weighting has been corrected and subsequent releases will use the correct weights.

David Redlawsk
Director, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling

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Numbers on 2016 Presidential Preference in NJ

NOTE: This post was corrected on August 11, 2014. Please see the bottom of this post for some details, or click here.

Today we begin a set of releases on our latest poll. This first one looks at how New Jerseyans respond to a Chris Christie – Hillary Clinton matchup as well as which names are most likely to come up for Republicans and Democrats as their top party preference. Not surprisingly, the answer is Clinton (Democrats) and Christie (Republicans.) Both swamp any other mentions of names. We should note that our question is hard – it is open ended, asking people to name their preference for their party’s nomination. We also asked them to name a second choice, an even harder task. Essentially what we are testing is the extent to which NJ voters have any other names in mind besides the dominant personalities. The answer is pretty much no. And how could they? After all, the only person on the Democratic side who gets any media attention is Clinton, and here in NJ Christie is clearly the the one Republicans think about and hear about. It becomes, of course, a viscous circle for other potential candidates. The media mostly talks about Clinton and Christie, so voters only know about them, and they respond accordingly. Then the media reports that no one else has a chance. Must be tough to be not-Christie or not-Clinton!

One other highlight to note today. After a lot of analysis over the last few months, we have decided to enhance our approach to weighting the data we collect and expand our disclosure statement (which you can find at the end of the full press release located here) to provide more details about this process. In particular we are now including frame weights based on our dual sample of both cell phones and landlines. The result, we think, is a better estimate of the population from our sample. We have also begun adjusting our reported margin of error. It is always the case that adding weights to the sample increases the variance (variation) in the results. To account for this we now calculate the “design effect” which accounts for this. But it also increases the reported margin of error, which we now take into account. For those interested, we use Langer Research Associates’ margin of error calculator.

Full text of the release follows. For a PDF of the release with all text, tables, and disclosures, click here.


 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Asked to choose their party’s presidential candidate for 2016, New Jersey Republicans give top honors to Gov. Chris Christie, while Democrats overwhelmingly pick former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Two years ahead of the election, more than 7 in 10 Republicans and Democrats can name a preferred nominee.

Christie’s name comes to mind first for 41 percent of Republicans and GOP leaners. Another 8 percent name Christie their second choice. In contrast, 59 percent of Democrats choose Clinton as their candidate. For another 7 percent, she is second choice.

No other prospective candidate from either party approaches the front-runners; nearly all others score below 10 percent as first or second choices.

“This is a hard test for voters,” noted David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “We did not provide a list of candidates, so voters must think about who they know. Not surprisingly, Christie overwhelms other Republicans here. On the other side, lack of media coverage of Democrats other than Clinton makes it hard for Democrats to name anyone else.”

When the frontrunners are matched head-to-head in a hypothetical 2016 race, Clinton holds a double-digit margin over Christie, albeit smaller than in early 2014. Just over half the state’s voters (51 percent) support Clinton with 40 percent for Christie in a direct matchup. Four percent want someone else, and another 6 percent are unsure. In a January 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, as Bridgegate swirled around Christie, Clinton led 55 percent to 34 percent. That lead was cut to 10 points in March.

Clinton also holds a slight favorability edge over Christie among New Jerseyans, although her numbers have trended downward over the past six months. Fifty-four percent now view her favorably, 32 percent unfavorably, and 14 percent have no opinion. Christie’s favorability has climbed to 49 percent during the same time period while 40 percent feel unfavorably and 10 percent have no opinion. In January, 65 percent felt favorable toward Clinton, 46 percent liked Christie.

Results are from a statewide poll of 871 adult New Jerseyans contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from July 28 to August 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 750 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points.

Christie, Clinton are their partisans’ overwhelming favorites

Christie and Clinton dominate their respective New Jersey party bases as presidential candidates in 2016. “Both are constantly scrutinized with never-ending ‘Will they or won’t they run?’ buzz,” said Redlawsk. “All this media attention puts them at the top of voters’ minds and thus makes them the top choices by far. But it is important to recognize that voters today are mostly responding to what they hear and see in media reports. Hearing little of other candidates, they respond accordingly when they don’t get a list containing different options.”

Among Republicans, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney comes in a distant second with a combined 12 percent for first- and second-place mentions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) tie for third at 8 percent. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are at 7 percent, while other Republicans who have been rumored to run, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, do not surpass 5 percent of their party base.

Among Republican voters who name Christie as their first choice, nearly half cannot name a second choice. But eight percent identify Rubio as their fallback, while another nine percent name Ryan. Five percent tap Romney as their second choice.

Democratic voters name even fewer potential candidates. Only Vice President Joe Biden is mentioned as a first choice with some frequency, while trailing Clinton by a wide margin; he’s first choice among 4 percent and first or second choice among 10 percent. Despite her objections to running, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) garners seven percent of combined first and second mentions, just behind New Jersey first-term Sen. Cory Booker’s eight percent. Andrew Cuomo is second choice among 2 percent of respondents.

Sixty-nine percent of Clinton supporters do not name a second choice for president; 11 percent say Biden is their second choice, while eight percent name Booker, and seven percent pick Warren.

Clinton continues to lead Christie among most groups

“Clinton continues to top Christie in favorability for 2016, even with the Bridgegate frenzy subsiding and the backlash against the former Secretary of State during her recent book tour,” said Redlawsk. “So while New Jersey voters still have a net positive feeling about Christie, they like Clinton somewhat more. And, of course, this remains a Democratic state, suggesting even Christie would have trouble winning it in 2016.”

Clinton’s margin against Christie in a 2016 matchup has remained steady since March, though her current advantage is only half of what it was in January. While 85 percent of Democrats and Republicans each side with their respective candidates, independents are evenly split, 43 percent Christie to 42 percent Clinton.

Clinton wins among both men and women, but is supported by the latter by a wider margin (53 percent to 36 percent), compared to men (48 percent to 43 percent). She loses among white voters, while winning across minority voters.

While Clinton’s favorability ratings have slipped from her high of 65 percent in January, she is still viewed quite favorably across the board. Eighty-three percent of voters from Clinton’s own party hold a favorable impression of her, as do 47 percent of independents; 19 percent of Republicans feel the same. Fifty-nine percent of women are favorable toward her compared to 47 percent of men. She is viewed more favorably than unfavorably among all other major demographic groups.

Christie’s favorability ratings have climbed slightly since Bridgegate broke, but remain steady over the past few months. Seventy-none percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents view the governor favorably, but Christie continues to be viewed negatively by more than half of Democrats. Half of men and women have a positive view of the governor. Minorities and millennial voters are more likely than most to have unfavorable impressions of Christie, while their counterparts are more likely to have favorable ones.

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Advisory: This release is a corrected version of the release of August 7, 2014. Due to an inadvertent error in calculating weights, some results were reported incorrectly. Most results were correct; while a few numbers used in the original release changed less than one percentage point. However, because of rounding to the nearest percentage point, some results moved up or down one or two points. Key changes include revising the Clinton-Christie match-up from 50%-40% to 51% to 40%. Clinton’s favorable rating should have been reported at 54% favorable instead of 53%, while Christie’s favorable rating should have been reported at 49% instead of 50%. In addition the reported weighted demographics of the sample have changed slightly, including increasing the rounded share of Democrats by 2 points to 33%, and decreasing the share of independents by 2 points to 48% and Republicans by one point to 19%.  Women should have been reported as 54% of the sample instead of 52% and men 46% instead of 48%. These corrected demographics actually better represent NJ voters than did the original reports.


Filed under 2016 President, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Hillary Clinton

Heads up – New Poll Coming!

The summer tends to be a bit slow here at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Most of our students are off doing summery things, and we’re working hard on planning the next year. But this year we have a poll underway right now, with results to begin being released around the middle of next week. It will be some of the usual – the US Senate race, how Gov. Christie’s doing, and the like, but we’re also working on some interesting questions in cooperation with folks at the New Jersey Medical School, asking about health-related issues. Those results will be released a bit later, after we’ve had time to do some detailed analysis. In the meantime, watch for new numbers on Christie, Booker, and even bridgegate (remember that?)


Filed under Bridgegate, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Cory Booker, Hillary Clinton, NJ Voters, Obama NJ Rating