Well, we are working hard this week here at the poll. While we already had one release this morning, these data are too interesting to hold over the weekend, so we are also releasing our findings on evaluations of Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama. Quick summary – Obama has dropped quite a bit in NJ, losing support from both liberals and moderates. For quite a while his rating held up well above Gov. Christie’s. Now they are both in the same place. As for the governor, while his favorables have not changed much, his job performance grade has dropped and more voters currently say they would prefer someone else in 2013 than want to re-elect him. It’s a tough time out there for all leaders. Voters are generally unhappy, and are taking it out on both sides.
As usual the text of the release follows. You can get a PDF of the text plus all tables and questions here.
STEEP DROP FOR OBAMA IN NEW JERSEY;
CHRISTIE SUPPORT MORE STABLE,
BUT MAJORITY WOULD NOT VOTE TO REELECT HIM
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – New Jersey voters have become noticeably less positive about President Barack Obama, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today. Obama’s favorable rating has dropped to 44 percent, down 11 points from an April 2011 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, while another 44 percent view him unfavorably, up 12 points.
Over the same period, support for Gov. Chris Christie is mostly unchanged, at 45 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, compared to 44 percent to 42 percent four months ago. Even so, this is the first Rutgers-Eagleton Poll to show feelings about Christie more negative than positive, though the difference is within the margin of error for the poll. Asked if they would vote to re-elect Gov. Christie or prefer someone else, 42 percent say they would vote for Christie, while 49 percent would support someone else.
“The debt ceiling mess in Washington, along with the general economic malaise, has clearly taken its toll on how Garden Staters view the President,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Particularly significant are drops among both independents and Democrats. After having a mostly positive view of Obama, independents have shifted distinctly negative, while Democrats have become far less positive as well. Given his easy win in New Jersey in 2008, these results are even more striking. At the same time, Gov. Christie’s prospects are also tough.”
Results are from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of 615 registered voters conducted among both landline and cell phone households from August 9 – 15, with a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.
White Voters’ Support for Obama Weak
Much of the change in Obama’s favorability stems from white voters, who have become very -negative toward the president. More than half of whites (54 percent) view Obama unfavorably, while only 34 percent have a favorable view. Blacks remain strongly supportive, but even that support has slipped a few points, to 78 percent favorable and 12 percent unfavorable. Obama has lost support from both the middle and the left, with moderates evenly split 43 percent to 41 percent (compared to 58 percent favorable in April) and liberal support dropping to 71 percent favorable from 88 percent in April.
“Obama’s efforts to compromise appear to have not helped him in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “Conservatives and Republicans still overwhelmingly dislike him, while moderates have not been impressed, and liberals are getting frustrated. The result is an across-the-board decline. These numbers also certainly reflect the anger and frustration voters have with Washington. It’s worth noting that Congress’s rating is now only 14 percent favorable and 73 percent unfavorable in the Garden State.”
Obama Job Performance Grade Dips
President Obama’s job performance grade has also declined significantly over the summer. Only 8 percent of voters now give him an A (compared to 14 percent in April) and 25 percent assign a B (32 percent in April.) Negative grades have increased, with 19 percent now grading him F, compared to 10 percent in April, and 18 percent giving him a D, up 2 points. Overall, Obama gets positive grades from 33 percent of voters, down 13 points, and negative grades from 37 percent, up 11 points. Another 30 percent assign him a grade of C, compared to 27 percent in April.
Conservative voters mostly give Obama a D or F, which is no surprise. What should worry the President is that liberal voters are much less positive than they were only a few months ago. Among liberals the most popular grade now is a C at 47 percent. In April liberals were more likely to give Obama a B, at 57 percent, but now only one-third still give him a B. Far fewer liberals (12 percent) give him an A than in April, when 20 percent did.
Moderate support for Obama’s job performance has also declined, with only one-third assigning an A or B, compared to 48 percent in April. Moderates are evenly split, with another third giving a grade of C and 32 percent assigning a D or F.
“While not entirely disastrous yet, the big picture for the President does not look good in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “He is losing support among his base while failing to make any inroads with more conservative voters. As long as the economy remains weak and voters so unsettled, the re-election campaign may be a challenge, even here.”
Christie Favorability Rating Shows Little Movement
The main story about Gov. Christie’s support in New Jersey is that there has been little change. While the new results show a small increase in unfavorablity, this change maintains the same small range the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has reported throughout 2011. Independents are split, 47 percent favorable to 45 percent unfavorable, while 82 percent of Republicans are positive and 72 percent of Democrats are negative. Independents and Democrats have become more unfavorable toward the governor, while Republicans support has actually increased somewhat.
Union households and Blacks remain negative about Gov. Christie, with only 32 percent of public employee union households expressing a favorable impression, while 66 percent are unfavorable. While whites have a favorable impression, 53 percent to 40 percent, only 12 percent of Blacks are favorable, with 77 percent unfavorable.
For the most part, New Jersey’s feelings about the Governor track with voters’ views of the state as a whole, which have also shown little change. Asked if the state is currently going in the right direction, 43 percent agree, while 51 percent say the state is on the wrong track. This is little changed from April’s 42 percent right direction, 49 percent wrong track numbers.
Christie Job Performance Grade Declines; Remains Highly Polarized
Job performance grades for Gov. Christie remain highly polarized while declining over the past four months. Fewer than 1 in 5 voters gives him a middle grade of C, while 38 percent assign a grade of A (13 percent) or B (25 percent) and 43 percent give a D (24 percent) or F (19 percent). In an April Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Christie received an A or B from 46 percent of voters, while only 35 percent assigned a D or F to his job performance. The new grades represent a movement of 8 points toward the negative for the Governor over the summer.
Moderates grade Gov. Christie much less favorably than they did four months ago. While 46 percent gave Christie an A or B in April, only 26 percent do so now, while 44 percent now give him a D or F, compared to only 31 percent in April. Liberals, never great fans of the governor, are even less positive now, with 11 percent grading him A or B (including only 1 percent A.) This is down by half from April, when 23 percent of liberals gave strong grades to Christie. Conservative voters remain supportive of Christie’s job performance, but most (43 percent) give him a B rather than an A (24 percent).
“The overall story for Gov. Christie is that views of him personally have changed little, with voters remaining split between favorable and unfavorable,” said Redlawsk. “But the last four months have not been as kind to his job performance grade, which has become more polarized and negative as the year has gone on. At least he can take solace in knowing the president has fallen harder. Where he once trailed President Obama’s ratings, both leaders are now suffering equally in terms of how voters view them.”
At the Moment New Jersey Voters Prefer Someone Else in 2013
In a very early read on the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election, voters were asked whether, if the election were today, they would vote for Gov. Christie or someone else. Only 42 percent say they would vote for the Governor today, while 49 percent prefer someone else. As befits Christie’s strong polarizing effect, only 7 percent are unsure.
Among those who voted for Christie in 2009, 78 percent say they would re-elect him, while13 percent prefer someone else. More than 80 percent of 2009’s Corzine voters say they want someone other than Christie in 2013, while 12 percent say they would vote for the governor. Christie’s strongest support comes from voters over 65, who prefer him by 12 points, 50 percent to 38 percent. Only 32 percent of voters under 30 would vote for Christie, and 57 percent want someone else. Men are evenly split, with 46 percent supporting Christie and 45 percent preferring another candidate. Women, however, are strongly opposed to Christie; only 37 percent say they would vote for him. While 77 percent of Democrats want someone else and 79 percent of Republicans would vote for Christie, independents are split, with 45 percent saying they would re-elect him and 46 percent saying they would opt for someone else.
“We should take these results with a grain of salt, of course,” said Redlawsk. “While no incumbent wants voters preferring to throw them out of office, the election is more than 2 years away. It’s one thing for voters to say they want someone else, but entirely another to support a specific alternative. Without a clear Democratic alternative, voters don’t have to make a real choice, so they can express concern now even if, in the end, they might vote for the governor. Still, these numbers give some sense of the uncertainty of the current political environment.”