>Governor Christie Travels; Voters Want Him to Stay Home

>We are up today with our more recent statewide polling on job performance and ratings of Governor Chris Christie. For fun, we included a question about his travels to support Republican candidates nationwide and another about how proud he makes New Jerseyans feel. For whatever it’s worth, NJ Voters want the Governor to stay home and work on state issues. Moreover, only a minority say that Christie’s national recognition makes them proud to be from New Jersey.

To me the most fun thing in this is that those who are least supportive of Christie want him to stay home, while those who like him most want him to go away! Well, not really go away, of course. These results are a reflection of course of partisanship among other things. Republicans who do strongly support the governor want to share the love and probably expect that he will help other Republicans around the country. Those who are less supportive – including both Independents and Democrats, want him to stay in stay. But I wonder if for Democrats it’s also partly because they worry that he will be an effective campaigner for Republicans!

But in any case, voters who think he’s doing a good job say “go ahead, leave” and those who think he’s doing a bad job say “stay here and work on issues”. But if he’s doing such a bad job, shouldn’t they want him anywhere but New Jersey? {Humor intended!}

On a more serious note, the governor’s favorability ratings have tightened a bit, but his job performance ratings have actually improved by 6 points since our August Poll. This despite the “Race to the Top” controversy, for which he takes the greatest blame from voters (we asked this but don’t report it below. I intend to get something up on that here on the blog soon.)

Driving positive views about Christie is the belief that taxes are the most important issue facing the state. Voters who think this (the second largest group) are very supportive of the Governor. But voters who think the economy is most important are more negative than positive, and those who rate education at the top are strongly negative about the Governor.

The release follows. Questions and tables are available here at the end of the PDF version of the release.


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Gov. Chris Christie continues his national tour for Republican candidates, New Jersey’s registered voters would prefer he stay home and focus on Garden State issues, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today. Almost two-of-three New Jerseyans (64 percent) want Christie here, while one-in-four (24 percent) support his travels.

For the 22 percent of respondents who rate Christie’s job performance excellent, a majority (55 percent) say he should campaign, while 38 percent prefer he remain in state. Others disagree: of those who think he is doing a good job (23 percent), only 22 percent want him to campaign, while 64 percent say he should stay home. Of the 52 percent who say Christie is doing only a fair or poor job, nearly three-quarters want him to stay put and work on New Jersey issues.

“The paradox is fascinating. Those who view Christie’s performance negatively nonetheless would prefer he stay in New Jersey and work on our issues, rather than campaign in other states,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science. “Those who are most supportive agree with his campaigning out of state. This is probably because his strongest supporters are overwhelmingly Republicans who believe the governor’s star power will help other Republicans. It may be those who oppose Christie’s travels – the largest group of whom are Democrats – also worry about the same thing.”

The poll of 912 registered New Jersey voters was conducted Sept. 23 to 26 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Christie’s national reputation does not make New Jersey proud

About one-third (37 percent) of respondents say Christie’ national recognition makes them proud to be from New Jersey. The large majority (56 percent) say it does not.

Not surprisingly, partisan Republicans have a different view. While 62 percent of Republicans say Christie makes them proud to be from the Garden State, only 38 percent of independents and 20 percent of Democrats feel the same.

Support for Christie’s national campaign tour is apparently related to pride: 61 percent of those favoring his campaigning also say Christie makes them proud to be from New Jersey. Two-thirds (64 percent) of those who want him to stay home say the governor does not make them proud.

“Republicans want Christie to spread the word on behalf of other Republicans nationwide,” said Redlawsk, “but the governor seems to not be making the same impression on independents, who make the difference in his favorability ratings, as they did when he was elected.”

Christie favorability tightens, job performance improves

Voters continue to feel slightly more favorable than unfavorable toward the governor as was true in the August Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, despite the high profile controversy of the Race to the Top competition. However, the number holding an unfavorable impression has increased. Across the state, 46 percent of voters have a favorable impression of Christie, while 42 percent have an unfavorable impression and 12 percent are unsure. In August, Christie’s rating was 46 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable with 15 percent unsure.

At the same time, Christie’s job performance ratings have improved, with 45 percent saying he is doing an excellent or good job, compared to 39 percent in August. Fifty-two percent currently rate his performance fair or poor while 58 percent did so in August.

Issues of importance in the Garden State

When voters were asked the most important problem in New Jersey today, they are most worried about the economy and unemployment (32 percent) and taxes (24 percent). Education (13 percent), state budget/spending (7 percent) and crime/drugs (5 percent) follow. Only 2 percent call health care the most important problem, the same percentage as those who name the governor himself. Only 1 percent cites the environment and the NJEA (teachers union).

When asked to rate the importance of a specific list of issues, New Jerseyans overwhelmingly (91 percent) say the economy matters to them personally, followed by unemployment (81 percent), health care (80 percent), taxes (77 percent), the budget deficit (74 percent), terrorism (67 percent), the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (64 percent), and immigration (49 percent).

Christie finds support from voters concerned with taxes

What voters see as the most important problem facing the state conditions how they view the governor’s job performance, the poll shows.

Those who name taxes as the most important issue are more supportive of the governor, with 53 percent rating his performance excellent or good and only 45 percent fair or poor. Among voters most worried about the economy and their own financial security, a majority is negative, with 44 percent rating Christie excellent or good while 53 percent rate him only fair or poor. Voters most concerned about education are much more negative than other voters, with only 30 percent rating Christie’s performance positively, while 68 percent have a negative view of his job performance.

“Those who view Governor Christie doing a good job are much more likely to be focused on taxes, compared to other New Jersey voters,” said Redlawsk, “and it is clear he has lost voters who think education is the most important. Fortunately for him, that is currently a relatively small group. Yet given the overriding importance of the economy to voters, his negative rating with that group drags the governor down overall.”


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