Our most recent poll also gets a read on the 2012 election in New Jersey. The overall story is not a lot of change from our early February poll. Support for President Obama among New Jersey voters holds steady. A clear majority – 58 percent – has a favorable impression of the president, while one third of voters continue to remain unfavorable. His job performance grade also remain virtually the same, with half of all voters awarding Obama an A or B and a little more than one quarter giving a grade of D or F. As was true in February, 22 percent give him a C.
Obama’s positive ratings coincide with a continuing double digit lead over the top Republican presidential candidates in general election match-ups. The president leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 58 to 31 percent, a 27-point difference that has held relatively steady. Obama leads former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich 64 to 23 percent and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum 62 to 27 percent.
In general, Romney earns the highest favorability rating from New Jersey voters among all three Republican candidates, but half of voters still have an unfavorable impression of him. Only 28 percent have a favorable impression toward Romney, 20 percent toward Santorum, and a meager 12 percent toward Gingrich.
None of the Republican candidates score very highly at all among New Jersey voters, which is reflected in Obama’s wide leads against each of them in these match-ups. The president appears to be maintaining his solid lead over any Republican in New Jersey.
Results are from a poll of 601 New Jersey adults, including a subsample of 518 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from March 21-27. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.
Obama viewed positively by almost all groups, though Independents show slight dip
In line with the overall trend, Obama is viewed favorably by most groups, except for Republicans and conservatives. Three-quarters of Republicans and 71 percent of conservatives feel unfavorable toward the president. Only 15 percent of Republicans and one-quarter of conservatives express favorable views. These numbers remain basically stable from last month, during which Obama saw a slight softening in opposition from Republican and conservative voters after single-digit favorability with Republicans last fall. In contrast, overwhelming majorities of Democrats and liberals – 87 and 86 percent, respectively – hold favorable views of Obama.
Obama’s favorability takes a slight downward turn with independent and moderate voters since last month. While February showed a large increase in favorable ratings among these groups, Independents have dropped 5 points since then in their favorability toward Obama to 50 percent and moderates are down 7 points to 54 percent. It may be too early to tell if these drops among Independent and moderate voters are the start of a new downward trend for them, but these groups can make a difference in the general election.
While Obama’s job performance grade remains relatively solid with all New Jersey voters, groups who had given Obama an A a month ago are showing some shift toward B’s. Among the 58 percent of voters with favorable impressions of Obama, 20 percent give him an A for job performance, 59 percent give him a B, and 18 percent give him a C. Like most of the other groups of voters, even those who give Obama high favorability ratings are at the same time giving him more B’s than A’s on job performance compared to a month ago.
Obama continues large lead over Republican frontrunner Romney
Even if there has been a softening of job performance ratings for Obama, so far there has been no impact on his lead over likely Republican nominee Romney. Romney receives the highest favorability ratings among Republican candidates across most subgroups, including Republicans and conservatives. Of Republicans, 58 percent view Romney favorably, compared to 45 percent who view Santorum favorably, and only 28 percent who feel favorable toward Gingrich.
Independents and moderates more or less reflect the overall number of voters both in terms of favorability toward Romney and in the general election match-ups. Only 31 percent of Independents and 26 percent of moderates have favorable opinions toward Romney, though this is higher than their opinions of both Santorum and Gingrich. In a head-to-head with Romney, 51 percent of Independents and 53 percent of moderates would choose Obama. Yet Independents and moderates also have a relatively high number of don’t knows in this general election match-up – 16 percent of Independents and 12 percent of moderates are undecided in who they would vote for between Obama and Romney.
Obama’s 58 percent to 31 percent lead over Romney is fueled by two factors: the larger number of Democrats versus Republicans in New Jersey and the fact that independents are currently strongly in his camp. Ninety percent of Democrats support Obama, compared to 84 percent of Republicans who would vote for Romney in the head-to-head matchup. Among independents, 51 percent say they support Obama, while 29 percent are in the Romney camp.