Category Archives: Chris Christie


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

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.

# # #

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


Today we begin releasing results from our latest poll. We start with what’s now become a regular feature – polling on Bridgegate and its releated issues. The quick story is that Gov. Christie appears to have stemmed the decline in his favorability and job approval ratings, but that there has been no rebound. NJ voters remains skeptical of the explanation given by the governor and do not see the recently released internal report as objective. They also believe former staffers who are withholding materials from the legislative committee investigating the scandal should be required to provide them, despite 5th Amendment claims.

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



Large majorities negative about internal review’s objectivity, Port Authority 9/11 controversies, and administration officials withholding records

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Nearly three months into the George Washington Bridge lane closing controversy, New Jersey registered voters remain skeptical of the response by Gov. Chris Christie and his administration to the burgeoning scandals, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. While Christie has stemmed the fall in his personal ratings after a double-digit drop in the wake of “Bridgegate”, voters are generally negative about Christie’s truthfulness and recent developments in the investigation.

Half of voters have a favorable impression of the governor while 42 percent feel unfavorable, essentially unchanged since February. Job performance numbers also show little change: 55 percent approve and 41 percent disapprove. But, just 22 percent fully believe Christie’s explanation regarding the lane closures while 26 percent say they somewhat believe him. The largest group, 49 percent, says they do not believe him at all. As for the recent taxpayer-funded report commissioned by the governor’s office that cleared Christie of all wrongdoing, nearly two-thirds say the internal review does not offer an objective assessment, versus three in ten who say it does.

In addition, a large majority says former Christie administration officials who are refusing to respond to a state legislative committee subpoena should be required to do so despite invoking their Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate themselves. Two-thirds say they should be required to provide the records anyway, while 27 percent believe they should be allowed to withhold them.

Voters overwhelmingly condemn the Port Authority’s alleged use of September 11 artifacts, including steel from the twin towers, as gifts to towns with mayors whose endorsement Christie wanted to win for his 2013 re-election, as reported by The New York Times. Three-quarters say this was not appropriate, while only 14 percent say it was and another 10 percent are unsure.

Taken altogether, almost seven in ten voters see the set of issues surrounding the developing investigations as serious: 26 percent say they are extremely serious for Gov. Christie, while another 41 percent sees them as very serious. Only a quarter of voters say the allegations are not very serious, and just 7 percent say they are not serious at all.

“Governor Christie appears to have stemmed the decline in his personal and job performance ratings, following their precipitous drop with Bridgegate, but he is not out of the woods yet,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Not only has he failed to regain any lost ground, but the news that the U.S. Attorney has convened a grand jury investigation ramps up the stakes. Given the underlying skepticism about the administration’s actions, Christie’s continued positive ratings may not hold up for the long term.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 816 New Jersey adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from March 31 to April 6, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 731 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Republicans back the governor on scandals; Democrats and independents less so

For the most part, Republicans continue to stick by their fellow GOP governor as the scandals plaguing Christie’s administration continue to develop. Just under half of GOP voters say they fully believe Christie’s explanation for the lane closures while another 31 percent say they somewhat believe him. Only18 percent of Republicans do not believe Christie at all.

This is in stark contrast to the three-quarters of Democrats and 41 percent of independents who do not believe the governor at all. Only 9 percent of Democrats say they believe him fully, and another 13 percent say somewhat. Independents are somewhat more positive, with 22 percent fully and 34 percent somewhat believing.

“Republicans remain fairly convinced the governor has not done anything wrong,” noted Redlawsk. “Even so, they are not nearly as upbeat about Christie as they were before Bridgegate. Democrats are completely dubious about all of this; whatever reservoir of good will Christie once had with them is simply gone.”

A majority of Republicans back Christie’s recently released internal review, with 56 percent seeing the report as an objective assessment of the events and the governor’s role compared to 34 percent who do not. The numbers flip for both Democrats and independents, with 78 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents saying the report is not objective.

Even Republicans condemn alleged political use of 9/11 artifacts

Republicans are not so much on Christie’s side when it comes to some past actions of the Port Authority and refusals by former Christie officials to hand over documents to the legislative committee investigating the scandals, joining Democrats and independents in condemning both, though to differing degrees. Half of GOP voters say it was inappropriate if Port Authority officials used 9/11 artifacts as gifts to help Christie’s reelection, while 34 percent find it permissible and 16 percent are unsure. Democrats and independents overwhelmingly see such an action as improper – at 87 percent and 78 percent, respectively.

Results are similar regarding former Christie staff members who are claiming their Fifth Amendment right to be able to withhold documents. Seventy-six percent of Democrats, 65 percent of independents, and even 57 percent of Republicans say that these officials should be required to provide records anyway.

Scandals issues seen as serious for Christie

Between the allegations of Bridgegate, claims about favoritism by the Christie administration in providing Sandy relief funds, the use of the Port Authority to further the administration’s political aims, and conflicts of interest for Christie appointees to the Port Authority, it is unsurprising that most voters see this set of issues as problematic for Christie. Democrats, unsurprisingly, are most likely to believe these allegations are serious: 39 percent say they are extremely serious, while 42 percent see them as very serious. Just 17 percent do not think the issues are particularly serious.

Independents share Democrats’ views for the most part. One quarter says the situation is extremely serious and another 40 percent very serious; 25 percent say not very serious, while just 6 percent say not at all serious. Republicans are not as worried, but almost half still say the allegations are serious, though only 9 percent say extremely so; 35 percent say they are not very serious, and 14 percent say not at all serious.

Christie’s ratings steady; some see a change in his governing tone post-Bridgegate

Christie’s favorability and job numbers have settled back into their pre-Sandy state, with Democrats mostly against and Republicans mostly in support of him. Independents generally continue to support Christie and his performance, though not nearly to the extent that Republicans do. After a large drop in Christie’s Sandy-specific rating, the governor has stabilized at 53 percent approving of his job on Sandy – somewhat better than his now-lukewarm or even negative ratings on other issues like taxes (39 percent approval), education (46 percent approval), the state budget (43 percent approval), and crime and drugs (50 percent approval).

Some observers have suggested that Gov. Christie has become less aggressive in the way he governs now than he was before Bridgegate but most voters see no real change. A quarter of voters say Christie has become less forceful in his tone, while 6 percent say he has become more forceful. But 61 percent say his tone is the same.

The current scandals have also significantly influenced voters’ views of the most important problem facing New Jersey today. While most voters continue to see the economy and jobs (25 percent) or taxes (27 percent) as most important, as usual, 15 percent report that government corruption and abuse of power is the number one issue. In comparison, only 3 percent name Sandy recovery as most important.

“The continuing saga of Bridgegate and its related allegations has become a ‘new normal’ for New Jersey voters,” said Redlawsk. “Christie is weathering this on a personal level, and in the overall perception of his performance. But he has lost Democrats, and overall there has been an increase in disapproval on specific issues. Combined with the fact that Sandy recovery is no longer the positive narrative it was for voters, the governor will likely find getting bipartisan agreement for his agenda harder than it was when he was riding high.”

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Filed under Bridgegate, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating

Analysis of Rutgers-Eagleton 2013 Pre-election Polls Released

Following inaccurate results for final pre-election polls in October 2013 (NJ Special Senate) and November 2013 (NJ Governor), the Eagleton Institute of Politics commissioned an outside study by Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates of New York to identify reasons for the outcomes of these polls. Today, The Eagleton Institute of Politics and Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling are releasing this analysis to the public as part of a commitment to transparency and education.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll reported a final pre-election poll for the special Senate election between then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Republican former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in which Booker held a 22-point lead. Booker ultimately won by 11 points. In the final November gubernatorial pre-election poll, Rutgers-Eagleton had Republican Governor Chris Christie ahead of his Democratic challenger state Senator Barbara Buono by 36 points: Christie won by 22.

The Langer report identifies the primary reason for the inaccurate results as the failure to put the “head-to-head” questions, which asked respondents for their vote intention, at or near the beginning of the questionnaire. Because these questions were asked after a series of other questions, it appears that respondents were “primed” to think positively about Governor Chris Christie in the November survey, which then may have led Democrats and independents in particular to over-report their likelihood of voting for the Governor. A similar process occurred with the October Senate poll, where voters were first reminded of how little they knew about Lonegan and how much they liked Booker before being asked the vote question.

Ruth B. Mandel, director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics stated that, “In response to these results, Eagleton chose to contract with an independent, highly respected, outside survey research firm to review its recent work and offer suggestions for improvement.” She added, “The Institute is committed to contributing to political knowledge in New Jersey and nationally with credible, impartial data. When we saw we had a problem, we knew we had to learn why and what to do about it.”

“Gary Langer and his colleagues spent many hours examining multiple aspects of our polling to understand what went wrong,” said David Redlawsk, director of Eagleton’s Center on Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) and professor of political science at Rutgers. “We are grateful for the efforts they put in and the advice they have provided, both in terms of this specific issue and general operations of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. The results of this report will make what we do even better.”

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has been a valued source of information about the views of New Jersey residents for over 40 years. As an academic-based survey research organization, ECPIP strives to be transparent and accessible. “We have a special obligation to take our educational mission seriously, which includes informing the public as well as learning from our own errors.” Redlawsk notes that survey research results released by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, for example, aim to meet the transparency standards set by the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Further, in recent years, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has been providing open informal insights and perspectives about survey research from Redlawsk and members of his staff through its blog at And for many years full data from the Poll has been freely available, generally after a one-year period, at

Langer’s major finding is that the order in which the head-to-head ballot test questions were asked most likely added inadvertent bias to the results in both the October and November Polls, although the results came out in opposite partisan directions in the two polls. Decisions made by ECPIP to maintain the standard set of questions about political figures including Cory Booker and ratings of Chris Christie at the beginning of the questionnaire worked to particularly prime Democrats in the November poll and Republicans in the October poll to support the candidate from the other party – Christie or Booker.

Redlawsk noted that the cause was a decision to maintain an ongoing four-year series of questions about Governor Christie that have been asked at the very beginning of a Rutgers-Eagleton NJ Poll since the governor’s inauguration. “We made this decision purposefully to maintain the integrity of our time series,” said Redlawsk. “This long-term research has greatly informed our understanding of public opinion about Governor Christie, and we had concerns that moving these questions after a head-to-head vote question would bias those results for the same reason we ended up biasing the vote questions.”

Most pre-election head-to-head polls focus only on the election and do not include long batteries of additional questions. The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was unable to field separate pre-election surveys and thus combined the head-to-head polls with the regular surveys of New Jersey public opinion. “In retrospect, this was the wrong choice when one goal was to be as accurate as possible with pre-election numbers,” noted Redlawsk. “We should have either fielded a separate poll or just focused on our long-term work, rather than trying to do both at the same time.”

The Langer report on the cause of the pre-election poll mis-estimates is available to the public now on the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll website at (PDF).


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Filed under 2013 NJ Election, Buono, Chris Christie, Cory Booker, NJ Senate 2013 Special Election, Steve Lonegan