Continuing on our latest series of releases, we update our Gov. Christie numbers since our August poll. It was only a month between polls, so probably shouldn’t have expected much to change. Granted, there was the Republican National Convention and the governor’s Keynote speech. The speech itself got great reviews from Republicans, and we think we see this reflected in more positive Republican numbers, and more negative Democratic ones. But independents don’t show much movement one way or the other.
And from time to time we see numbers that don’t have a ready explanation in our data or any obvious external events. We see one of those there – the share of women giving Christie a job performance grade of “A” grew 8 points, from 10 to 18 percent, matching the number of men who award the top grade. Interestingly, at the same time, women are also more likely to give the governor a “D” than they were in August. But it is not obvious why we should see such movement among women now, after relative stability for quite a while. And this is doubly true since women have not improved their overall impression of the governor.
Full text of the release is below. For a PDF of the text, with questions and tables, click here.
CHRISTIE JOB GRADE IMPROVES SLIGHTLY, RE-ELECTION SUPPORT DOES NOT
Nearly half of voters think state is heading in right direction
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Almost half of New Jersey’s registered voters – 47 percent –grade Gov. Chris Christie’s job performance as A or B, but the same percentage says they would not vote to re-elect the governor, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Eighteen percent of voters rate Christie’s job performance A, and 29 percent a B, but 30 percent award him a poor or failing grade. Grades are slightly more positive than an August Rutgers-Eagleton Poll; more voters now award an A grade (up three points), and fewer award C (down three points).
Voters remain split over a second term for Christie. While 44 percent would re-elect the governor, 47 percent say it is time for someone new. Last month, 47 percent wanted another term while 46 percent were looking for change.
Christie’s favorability has remained relatively stable since the last poll: 48 percent of voters have a favorable impression of Christie, down a point from August, while 42 percent are unfavorable toward the governor, up two points. Nearly half (49 percent) of voters say New Jersey is going in the right direction while 41 percent say it is on the wrong track.
“New Jersey voters remain evenly split over the governor, as they have been consistently since he’s been in office,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “While we see small moves up and down, opinions on Christie remain pretty settled, even though there is some improvement in job performance grades.”
Results are from a poll of 790 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Sep 27-30. The sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Christie’s favorability remains steady, job performance marks improve
Christie’s stable favorability ratings between polls belie some movement among both Republicans and Democrats. While independent voters remain 49 percent favorable, the governor’s favorability among Republicans improved by four points to 88 percent. With Democrats, on the other hand, Christie’s favorability dropped three points to 22 percent. Women remain less positive than men, 43 percent to 52 percent.
An increase in the number of women who give Christie an A has driven Christie’s higher job performance grades since August. As many women as men (18 percent) now give the governor the top grade, up 8 points for women. Although more women than men fail him (17 percent compared to 12 percent of men), this still represents a two-point improvement among women from the last poll.
Independents remain very positive about Christie’s job performance: 47 percent award him A or B, and 14 percent fail him. Democrats are more negative, but 25 percent now grade him A or B, a five-point improvement from August. Nearly a quarter fail him. Not surprisingly, GOP backers overwhelmingly give Christie stellar grades; 83 percent say Christie is doing A or B work (up nine points), while only 2 percent say he should fail (down two points).
“This poll marks the highest percentage of A’s and B’s we’ve seen since we introduced the Christie job report card in February 2011,” said Redlawsk. “Republicans are more positive, and Democrats more negative, as we might expect from Christie’s convention speech. Favorability among women did not change, but job performance ratings became more polarized. Yes, many more women give A grades this month, but we also see an increase in D’s.”
Looking ahead to 2013
Christie’s improved job performance grades are contrasted, however, with a small slip in re-election prospects. The decline is due to a drop in support among Democrats and independents, outweighing gains among Republicans. Only 19 percent of Democrats would give the governor a second term versus the 71 percent who want him out of office next year. Re-election support among independents has dropped five points since August to 44 percent, while 43 percent want someone new, down two points. The number of undecided independents has doubled to 12 percent since the last poll. In contrast, support among GOP voters has increased five points to 85 percent. Twelve percent of Republicans say they want someone new.
“No incumbent wants to be below 50 percent re-election support,” said Redlawsk, “but we don’t yet know who will be the Democratic nominee, nor how brutal a primary Democratic contenders will face. Given that, Christie’s numbers look reasonably good so far.”
Men have become less positive about the governor’s re-election. Forty-eight percent favor re-election, a six-point decline since the summer. Forty-three percent want someone new (up from 39 percent), and 10 percent are unsure (up from 8 percent). Women, on the other hand, have remained steady – 41 percent want the governor re-elected, 50 percent do not, and 9 percent are uncertain.
Christie’s re-election continues to be mostly opposed by voters under 30 (59 percent want someone new, up seven points) and black voters (81 percent, up nine points). He no longer wins among those earning between $100,000 and $150,000 (43 percent say re-elect, 51 percent say someone new) and continues to lose among those in the two lowest income brackets. The governor still has re-election support among white voters, but is down two points to 52 percent. Senior citizens remain on his side, with 53 percent favoring a second term.
New Jersey continues in a positive direction
The share of voters who say New Jersey is going in the right direction (49 percent) may be rebounding from a dip in August; 41 percent continue to believe, however, that the state is on the wrong track. Independents’ positive feeling about the state’s direction increased two points to 49 percent. Their pessimism correspondingly decreased to 39 percent. Republicans are more positive than Democrats by an 81 percent to 31 percent margin.
More than half (55 percent) of voters who think the state is going in the right direction feel this way because they believe things are changing for the better, and 40 percent believe things are not getting worse. Those who say New Jersey is on the wrong track mostly do so because they believe things are just not getting better (62 percent), compared to a little over a third of voters who think things in the state are getting worse (35 percent).