Category Archives: Chris Christie

NEW JERSEY VOTERS QUESTION IF CHRISTIE HAS WHAT IT TAKES FOR 2016

As promised, here is the third release related to Chris Christie and 2016. Last week we talked about his overall ratings as governor, and yesterday we looked at Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, finding she would currently trounce Christie in NJ. Today we look specifically at the governor as a presidential candidate.

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with text, questions, and tables.

A ‘BULLY’ FOR PRESIDENT?
NEW JERSEY VOTERS QUESTION IF CHRISTIE HAS WHAT IT TAKES FOR 2016

Two-thirds of Rutgers-Eagleton Poll respondents say governor puts 2016 ahead of New Jersey

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Gov. Chris Christie prepares for a 2016 presidential run in the midst of declining ratings at home, 59 percent of New Jersey voters say he would not make a good president, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 34 percent believe Christie would do well in the Oval Office.

Perceptions of Christie’s attitude and behavior haunt his chances for 2016, according to voters here. Asked to best describe the governor in a single word, voters respond with “bully,” “arrogant,” “selfish,” “aggressive,” and “bad” at the top of the list. But there also are positives further down in the top 10, such as “good,” “honest,” “strong,” “tough” and “ambitious.”

Voters’ views on a Christie presidency are also shaped by perceptions that the governor is lacking in qualifications to become commander-in-chief. Thirty-seven percent say he has the right “look” to be president, 36 percent say he has the right “demeanor and personality,” and 45 percent say he has the right amount of “experience” when considered against other potential Republican contenders.

“Governor Christie’s numbers are a far cry from the very positive results we reported yesterday for Hillary Clinton,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “While voters’ views of Clinton are upbeat, the negative ratings given to Christie’s gubernatorial performance we reported last week are clearly influencing perceptions of him as a president.”

Voters in the Garden State are now more likely than ever – at 68 percent, up 13 points from December – to say Christie’s positions on issues, and his decisions on whether to sign or veto bills, are more about a potential presidential run than what is best for New Jersey. Just 22 percent feel he is putting the state first. Half of voters also say Christie’s travel schedule hurts his ability to be an effective governor, while 44 percent say it does not.

Despite this, voters are evenly split on whether Christie will become the 2016 GOP nominee. Thirteen percent say this is very likely while 36 percent think it is somewhat likely. Another 49 percent think it is either somewhat unlikely (27 percent) or not at all likely (22 percent).

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, including 694 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Christie in a word? Bully

While respondents offered more than 200 one-word or one-phrase descriptions of the governor, a few words were offered repeatedly. Ten percent used the word bully and more than 7 percent said arrogant. At 4 percent, good was the most popular positive word given.

ChristieOneWordrev One word that best describes Gov. Chris Christie
(c) Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Feb 18, 2015

“Of the 20 most frequently used words, the top three – bully, arrogant and selfish – are all negative, with about 20 percent of voters using them to describe Christie,” said Redlawsk. “Good and honest follow those three, but total only 6 percent combined.”

Bully comes to mind for a sizable share of Democrats (15 percent) and independents (9 percent). Arrogant is second with both, and selfish is not far behind. But not all their top adjectives are bad news for the governor: “good” actually ranks third among Democrats.

Republicans are more varied in their responses. Honest is first (4 percent) while other positives (excellent, fair, good, strong) and some negatives (aggressive, arrogant, selfish) are each named by 3 percent. Overall, Republicans are less consistent than Democrats in the words they use.

Christie’s presidential prospects fall far short of Clinton’s

As with Christie’s gubernatorial ratings, views on a potential “President Christie” are much more positive among his base than they are among Democrats or even independents. But Christie support among the New Jersey GOP does not match the intensity with which independents and Democrats rally around Hillary Clinton.

The 72 percent of Republicans who say Christie would make a good president falls well short of the 89 percent of Democrats who say the same about Clinton. Also, only 19 percent of Democrats see Christie as a good president, but 27 percent of Republicans think this about Clinton. More importantly, just 28 percent of independents say Christie would be a good president, far from the 60 percent of this group who back Clinton in the same scenario.

Voters give Christie lukewarm scores in terms of a potential presidency, with the majority holding a negative outlook, as opposed to the exceedingly positive one they give Clinton. Even GOP intensity for their governor is not as strong as Democrats’ for Clinton. Fifty-eight percent of Republican voters say Christie has the right “look” to be president, just eight points higher than their percentage for Clinton. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats and 36 percent of independents feel the same about Christie – much lower than their thoughts on his potential Democratic opponent.

Sixty-two percent of Republican voters, 20 percent of Democrats, and 36 percent of independents say Christie has the right demeanor and personality for the top job. While GOP views are much higher in this area than they are for Clinton, independents and especially Democrats are far less positive here for Christie.

As for experience, Republican views on Christie (at 62 percent) are virtually the same as on Clinton. Three in 10 Democrats feel Christie has enough experience, while independents are more split on his credentials.

“New Jersey is more Democratic than Republican, which accounts for some of Clinton’s apparent advantage,” said Redlawsk. “But when GOP voters give Christie marks on presidential characteristics that are only marginally higher than hers, Christie has serious fence-mending to do with New Jersey voters.”

GOP grows divided over Christie’s presidential preparations

Voters have grown increasingly negative about Christie’s views, actions, and time spent out of state the last several months, believing ulterior presidential motives are behind his decisions.

Christie’s national focus has not gone unnoticed, even among his base. Republicans are now split over whether Christie’s recent words and deeds been about what is best for the Garden State or for his own presidential run. Forty-five percent of Republicans say his decision are about New Jersey, down 12 points since December. Nearly as many, 43 percent, think Christie is making decisions with his eyes on the White House, up 16 points.

Just 12 percent of Democrats believe Christie is doing what is best for New Jersey; 82 percent do not. Independents’ views of Christie’s motivations are also negative: 20 percent think he’s acting for the state versus 68 percent who say decisions are about a presidential run.

Opinions are similarly divided over how Christie’s travel schedule affects his ability to govern: 67 percent of Republicans say his frequent trips have no effect (down seven points), but 52 percent of independents – up 10 points, reaching a majority for the first time – and 60 percent of Democrats (up eight points) say it has hurt his ability to govern effectively.

 

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TIME FOR A WOMAN IN THE OVAL OFFICE? NEW JERSEYANS AGREE COUNTRY IS READY

Today’s release focuses on Hillary Clinton, while (spoiler alert!) we will have a similar release about Chris Christie tomorrow. We decided to split the releases because there is simply too much information to jam into one. For both Clinton and Christie we asked a series of questions about whether they seem presidential compared to other potential (and unnamed) competitors from their own parties,  and whether they would make a good president overall. For this release on Clinton, we additionally asked whether the country is “ready” for a women president and whether New Jersey voters want to see a woman president in their lifetimes.

The topline? Clinton currently cleans up in New Jersey – with huge leads over Christie, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker in head-to-head tests, and New Jersey voters overwhelmingly think the country is ready for a woman president. Half also say they want to see a women president in their lifetimes, but half says this does not matter to them. Not surprisingly, since the potential woman president who comes universally to mind is Clinton, Republicans aren’t particularly interested, and Democrats really, really want this to happen. Especially female Democrats.

One interesting sidelight – questions like “is the country ready…” are often thought to stand in for the kind of direct questions that maybe cannot be asked. If we ask people directly if they are ready for a women president, few will directly admit to any gender bias on this score. But when we ask indirectly, we may be getting some insight into the respondent’s own preferences.  In this case, however, 80% of New Jersey voters say the country is ready, which suggests even on the individual respondent level, there is relatively little bias in New Jersey against such an event. In the end this is all the more interesting since during Clinton’s 2008 run, a CNN poll found Americans more “ready” for a Black president than they were for a woman. Maybe times have changed?

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the text, questions, and tables.

TIME FOR A WOMAN IN THE OVAL OFFICE?
NEW JERSEYANS AGREE COUNTRY IS READY

Clinton clobbers Christie, other GOP hopefuls in NJ matchups, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – With all signs pointing to a second presidential campaign by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 80 percent of New Jersey voters say Americans are ready for a woman in the Oval Office, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 16 percent think the country is not yet ready for such a groundbreaking event.

Further, half of Garden State voters hope to see a woman become president in their lifetime, although the other half says it does not matter to them personally.

For many, hope for a woman president is apparently related to being “ready for Hillary.” A large majority of New Jersey voters has a positive view of Clinton and her potential, with 63 percent saying she would make a good president overall. Respondents are very upbeat about Clinton: 70 percent say she has the right “look” to be president, 74 percent say she has the right “demeanor and personality” and 83 percent say she has the right amount of “experience” when considered against other potential Democratic contenders.

“During Hillary Clinton’s first campaign for president, there was a great deal of talk about how voters would respond to her gender,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “In January 2008, a CNN poll found Americans more ‘ready’ for a black president than a woman. Fast forward seven years and New Jerseyans, at least, have little doubt that the country is now ready for a woman president.”

Clinton continues to command high favorability ratings here. Her 59 percent favorable to 31 percent unfavorable rating puts her well ahead of any other figures the poll tested, including President Obama (53 percent favorable to 38 percent unfavorable). One result of her strong showing is that she easily crushes potential 2016 Republican opponents in New Jersey head-to-head matchups. She tops Gov. Chris Christie, 58 percent to 35 percent; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 58 percent to 32 percent; and Wisc. Gov. Schott Walker, 60 percent to 29 percent.

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, including 694 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Partisanship, gender and a woman president

Democrats (85 percent) and independent voters (83 percent) overwhelmingly believe the nation is ready for a woman president. Republicans are less certain, with 67 percent agreeing and 31 percent disagreeing. Partisanship plays an even stronger role when it comes to personal hopes regarding a woman in the Oval Office. Two-thirds of Democrats want to see a woman in the White House in their lifetime, but 70 percent of Republicans say such an historic event does not matter to them. Independents are split – 47 percent hope for a woman president, while 53 percent say it does not matter.

“Of course, asking about the potential for a woman president brings only one candidate easily to mind for most – Hillary Clinton,” noted Redlawsk. “Voters are influenced by who they can imagine in the White House, so Republicans are dramatically less likely to want it to happen any time soon. Given a strong female Republican candidate, we would no doubt see a significant shift among GOP supporters.”

Men and women also differ in their expectations about a future woman president. Men are more likely to say the U.S. is ready to elect one, 84 percent to 77 percent. Women are 16 points more likely to personally hope to see a woman elected in their lifetime, 58 percent to 42 percent.
Given Hillary Clinton’s prominence, the desire to see a woman president is especially driven by Democratic women voters. More than 70 percent want to see a woman elected in their lifetime, compared to just over 50 percent of Democratic men. There is no gender gap among Republicans: about 30 percent of each gender personally hopes to see a woman elected during their lifetime.

But regardless of party, women are less likely to think the country is ready for one of their own as president, with the same gap between men and women evident for Republicans, Democrats and independents.

“Women are more likely to see gender discrimination, which probably makes them more cautious about the prospects for a woman president, said Redlawsk. “On the other hand, Democratic women in particular want to see their gender finally represented in the White House, something that doesn’t resonate the same way with men of any partisan stripe. These patterns track with national averages.”

Clinton’s presidential prospects high among voter base

Even as an unannounced candidate, Clinton has most New Jersey voters believing in her capabilities, especially voters most likely to be among her base. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents agree Clinton would make a good president overall. Only 27 percent of Republicans feel the same. Women are more likely to agree than men (66 percent versus 59 percent). Nonwhite voters and those under 65 years old are more likely as well.

As for particular presidential qualities, Clinton does well even with Republicans, half of whom agree that she has the right “look” to be president; 86 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents say the same. As for her presidential “demeanor and personality,” 92 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and 47 percent of Republicans agree with the statement. Additionally, 95 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents and 64 percent of Republicans concur that Clinton has the right “experience” to be president.

Men and women share similar views on these questions. Nonwhite and younger to middle-age voters resemble Democrats in their assessments. Even a fair share of those unfavorable toward Clinton herself say she has the right look (42 percent), demeanor (35 percent) and especially experience (61 percent) – though only 16 percent of this group say she would make a good president.

“While they are not particularly interested in her becoming president, even Republicans see Hillary Clinton as experienced and of presidential character compared to other unnamed Democratic candidates,” said Redlawsk. “More importantly, she does well on these characteristics among independents, crucial to any general election.”

Top GOP candidates no match in New Jersey

Clinton’s favorability rating has remained well above 50 percent throughout the past year, after an initial slip from 65 percent in January 2014. Democrats are overwhelmingly favorable toward Clinton, at 88 percent. More than over half of independents agree, but just over one in five Republicans feels the same.

Women are 11 points more likely to have a favorable impression of her than men (64 percent to 53 percent). Nonwhite voters are much more likely than white voters to feel favorably towards Clinton – 79 percent versus 50 percent.

Tested head-to-head with Christie, Bush or Walker, Clinton maintains large leads across a wide range of New Jersey voters. Christie does slightly better than Bush and Walker but still loses to Clinton by wide margins among most groups, except Republicans and conservatives. Walker does the worst of all three GOP governors among independents and Republicans when pitted against Clinton. Bush sees the largest gender gap in his matchup.

Those who say Clinton has the right look, demeanor, and experience, and would make a good president overall, are much more likely to say they would vote for her in each matchup. Just under two-thirds of those who think the U.S. is ready for a woman president prefer Clinton in all matchups, as do about three-quarters of those who hope to see a woman president in their lifetime.

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GOV. CHRISTIE RATINGS FALL TO LOWEST POINT IN RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL

Today we have the first of three releases focused in some way on Gov. Chris Christie: his ratings; New Jerseyan’s attitudes toward his presidential campaign; and a third release on perceptions of Hillary Clinton as a presidential opponent. The latter two will come out next week.

In the meantime we focus today on Christie’s ratings with NJ voters. And the story is not a good one for the governor. He has reached the lowest approval point we have recorded across his entire term, breaking through the 50% negative impressions and job approval barrier. The drop seems to be driven by a huge negative shift among independents.

We also, for the first time ever, asked voters to tell us int heir own words why they think Christie’s ratings had taken a downward trend over the last couple months.   The keys? His personality appears perhaps to be wearing thin on voters, the Bridgegate scandal which remains on their minds, and his focus on national ambitions, rather than on his job as governor. Sometimes it is really interesting to simply record what people say in their own terms. It certainly is here.

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release text, questions, and tables.

CHRISTIE’S RATINGS DROP TO ALL-TIME LOWS AS VOTERS CITE GOVERNOR’S ATTITUDE, PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS, BRIDGEGATE AS REASONS

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Chris Christie attempts to build a following among national Republicans in preparation for an expected 2016 presidential bid, New Jersey voters have soured on the governor, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Following a recent spate of damaging headlines, Christie’s support has collapsed to just 37 percent of registered voters reporting a favorable impression, down seven points in just two months.

For the first time, a clear majority (53 percent) feels unfavorable towards the governor. His overall job approval is also clearly negative: 52 percent disapprove while 42 percent approve, a drop of six points since December.

ChristieFavFeb2015

Voters have definite opinions about reasons behind the slide. Twenty percent mention his attitude, personality, and behavior; 15 percent refer specifically to “Bridgegate” and 10 percent say something about shunning his current duties to pursue presidential ambitions.

“As one respondent said, ‘Christie visiting different states for the presidential race made New Jerseyans not like him,’” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Others used words like ‘arrogance,’ ‘rudeness’ and ‘abrasive’ to explain the turnaround from his high flying post-Sandy days. And of course, all manner of mentions of Bridgegate and other scandals were offered.”

Christie’s slump is reflected in specific issues as well. His job approval on taxes (the top concern for 29 percent of voters) is down three points to 28 percent since the December 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. On the economy – the most important issue for 24 percent – Christie is down four points to 31 percent approval.

And what was already a strikingly low approval rating on handling the pension situation has fallen an additional five points to 19 percent. The largest decline, seven points to 35 percent, has been in respondents’ perception of how he has been handling education. Only approval levels on Sandy recovery (55 percent, the highest of any issue), crime and drugs (48 percent), and the budget (31 percent) have remained steady since the last poll.

Despite Christie’s increasingly negative ratings, voters split on whether he has been a good or bad governor: 38 percent of voters are positive, 33 percent negative, and 29 percent neutral. But voters are increasingly negative on the direction of the state: 35 percent say New Jersey is going in the right direction, while 54 percent say it is on the wrong track.

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, including 694 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Christie loses independents in overall ratings

A key to keeping Christie’s ratings in positive territory through most of tenure has been ongoing support provided by independent voters. But that has changed. Independent voters now are squarely against a governor they long supported, with favorable impressions falling a record-breaking 16 points since December to 31 percent. Meanwhile, the share of independent voters with an unfavorable impression grew by double digits to 55 percent.

“Christie’s loss of independent support undercuts his efforts to be seen as appealing across the political spectrum,” noted Redlawsk. “This 16-point drop is even larger than we found in the aftermath of Bridgegate, when the decline was 14 points over two-and-a-half months. This would seem to be nothing but bad news as the governor ramps up his national profile. For the first time, independents look more like Democrats than they do Republicans in their assessments of Christie.”

While New Jersey independents show a steep drop, Democrats and Republicans hold steady in their assessments. Democrats are at 24 percent favorable to 70 percent unfavorable, while Republicans are just the opposite, at 73 percent favorable to 20 percent favorable.

Christie’s overall job approval reflects more of the same. Independents’ approval of his performance has completely flipped; just 39 percent now approve (down 13 points), versus 55 percent who disapprove (up 13 points). Just 25 percent of Democrats approve and 68 percent disapprove, while Republicans remain at 79 percent approval to 16 percent disapproval.

Christie slips among Republican on key issues

Republicans retain their overall positive assessments of Christie, but the story varies on some key issues. While GOP approval of Christie’s performance on taxes remains steady at 47 percent, the same is not true of the economy and jobs, where his 46 percent approval rating among Republicans represents an 11-point decline. More Republicans now disapprove – 48 percent – a huge increase of 19 points since December. Christie also suffers from declines within his base on the state budget, with 55 percent now approving (down nine points), crime and drugs (down six points to 64 percent), and the state pension fund (down six points to 37 percent).

“In December, independents remained more positive than negative overall, despite significant drops on some key issues,” said Redlawsk. “The decline on issues, however, was clearly a leading indicator, as overall support among independents has now plummeted. The question is whether we will see the same dynamic with Republicans, who continue strongly positive overall, but are now trending negative on two major issues: the economy and the state pension fund.”

Voters’ key reasons for Christie’s decline span his past, present, and future

ChristieReasonsWordcloud

Christie’s perennial “Jersey guy” personality, attitude, and behavior – a blessing in the best of times and a curse to him in the worst – is seen by voters as the top reason for his ratings decline, as 20 percent cite this when asked to explain what polls have been showing. The George Washington Bridge scandal is also high on voters’ minds, coming in a close second at 15 percent, along with an additional 4 percent who mention scandals generally.

Christie’s 2016 aspirations have not been lost on voters either. His lack of attention to New Jersey as he focuses on presidential preparations is named by 10 percent, with another 4 percent specifically mentioning Christie’s “excessive” out of state travel.

Some, however, believe Christie’s fall may not be entirely his fault; 6 percent of voters cite news coverage and his portrayal by the media. Others look to specific issues – 5 percent name his handling of the economy and jobs; another 5 percent reference state employees, unions and pensions. Four percent bring up general poor governing, lack of leadership, and not doing enough for the state.

Democrats and independents are much more likely to reference Christie’s personality, attitude and behavior than Republicans (23 percent and 20 percent, respectively, to 12 percent). At 19 percent, Bridgegate is the top reason given among Republican voters. They are also much more likely than Democrats to blame Christie’s downfall on his portrayal in the media (11 percent versus just 2 percent of Democrats).

Mixed views on Christie’s legacy

For the most part, voters are split on how good or bad a governor Christie has been over the past five years. Independents are the most split: 35 percent say Christie has been a good governor, 34 percent say bad, and 31 percent say neither. But 69 percent of Republicans look positively on the governor’s time in office, while 24 percent are neutral; just 7 percent say Christie has been bad.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats differ: 22 percent say Christie has been good, 46 percent say he has been bad, while 31 percent are ambivalent about his performance.

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CLINTON MAINTAINS DOUBLE-DIGIT LEAD OVER CHRISTIE IN NEW JERSEY

Full text of today’s release follows. Click here for a PDF of the text, questions, and tables.

CLINTON MAINTAINS DOUBLE-DIGIT LEAD OVER CHRISTIE IN NEW JERSEY

 Large Majority Expects Christie to Hit the Presidential Campaign Trail

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – In a hypothetical 2016 head-to-head matchup between Gov. Chris Christie and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New Jersey voters continue to give Clinton a double-digit lead, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Forty-nine percent of registered voters say they would support Clinton over Christie, while 39 percent back Christie. The gap between the two has remained around 10 points through much of the past year.

Clinton is also more positively received by New Jersey voters, with a 56 percent favorability rating, compared to Christie’s 44 percent. While Clinton’s favorability rating is down from 65 percent at the beginning of 2014, Christie’s dropped even more after January’s Bridgegate revelations. Both ratings, however, have remained relatively stable since their declines early in the year.

“It probably makes sense that there is little movement in a hypothetical matchup two years before the actual election,” noted David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Still, Christie starts down double-digits in his home state if both he and Clinton are the nominees.”

Sixty-three percent of New Jersey voters expect Christie to hit the 2016 campaign trail, up six points since last asked in an August Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Voters also think Christie’s decision-making ahead of a potential presidential campaign has not been New Jersey-focused. Instead, 55 percent says the governor’s choices in signing or vetoing bills have been more about a potential presidential run, rather than what’s good for the state. In addition, 41 percent think Christie’s travel schedule outside of the state for fundraising and campaigning has hurt his ability to govern. But 52 percent say his travels have made no difference to his ability to govern.

At this point, about seven in ten Republicans and Democrats name a preference for their party’s nomination, little changed throughout 2014. Republicans and those leaning GOP continue to stick by Christie as their top choice, while Democrats (along with leaners) overwhelmingly still prefer Clinton.

Christie is tops for 32 percent of Garden State Republicans and GOP leaners, down nine points since August. Another nine percent name Christie as their second choice. Former 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney follows with 10 percent naming him as first choice and eight percent listing him second.

In contrast, 54 percent of Democrats and those leaning Democrat choose Clinton as their candidate, down five points from August. For another eight percent, she is the second choice. No other Democrat breaks 10 percent in first choice mentions; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows as first choice for six percent and second choice for five percent.

Results are from a statewide poll of 750 adults, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Dec. 3-10, 2014. The subsample of 646 registered voters reported on here has a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points.

Clinton continues lead over Christie among most groups

Clinton’s 2016 matchup margin over Christie is half of what it was in January 2014, when she led 55 percent to 34 percent. That lead dropped to 51 percent – 41 percent in March, and is little changed since. While 90 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Republicans side with their potential party nominees, independents split 40 percent Christie to 38 percent Clinton.

A huge gender gap might become evident if Clinton is the Democratic nominee. Today she wins among women by 24 points (58 percent to 34 percent), but loses among men by a 39 percent to 44 percent margin. She also loses among white voters, but scores a solid lead with nonwhite voters.

Clinton’s hypothetical win over Christie is fueled by her 12-point favorability advantage; 78 percent of those favorable towards her say they would also vote for her. She remains in positive territory with key constituencies. Eighty-six percent of voters from Clinton’s own party hold a favorable impression of her, as do 47 percent of independents. Only 26 percent of Republicans feel the same. Sixty-five percent of women are favorable toward her, compared to 45 percent of men. She is viewed more favorably than unfavorably among other key demographic groups, including liberals, moderates, both white and nonwhite voters, and voters of all ages, incomes, education levels, and regions.

Most think Christie will run; Partisanship fuels perceptions of presumed preparations

There is no question in a large majority of New Jersey voters’ minds that Christie will throw his hat in the 2016 ring – more than half of every demographic group tested believes he will. But Christie’s ability to balance his governorship at home with the run-up to 2016 is a source of disagreement.

A bare majority – 54 percent – of Christie supporters believe the governor continues to “do what’s best for the state” with his recent decisions to sign or veto bills, down 9 points since August. A notable 31 percent of this group thinks Christie’s decisions are mostly about an expected run for president. Voters unfavorable toward Christie overwhelmingly (81 percent) say his actions have been about setting up a potential presidential bid, while only 5 percent say he’s doing what’s best for the state.

Partisans take opposite sides on the question as well: 57 percent of Republicans say the GOP governor is doing what’s “best for New Jersey,” versus the 70 percent of Democrats who think his decisions are primarily about a presidential run. Independents lean toward Democrats here; 57 percent seeing his actions as related to a future presidential campaign and just 28 percent believe the opposite.

Opinions are similarly divided over how Christie’s travel schedule affects his ability to govern: 74 percent of Republicans say his frequent trips have no effect, but 42 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats say it has hurt his ability to govern effectively. Those who view the governor favorably (at 74 percent) are much more likely to say there has been no effect, while Christie’s detractors (62 percent) think his travels have impacted his ability to govern New Jersey.

Despite numerous possibilities, Christie, Clinton remain overwhelming partisan favorites

Christie and Clinton continue to dominate their respective New Jersey party bases as presidential candidates for 2016. Among Republicans, Romney comes in a distant second, with 10 percent naming him their first choice (and 8 percent second choice). Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has announced an exploration of a presidential run, follows with six percent of first choice votes, but leads as second choice GOPer with 14 percent.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) at four percent first choice (six percent second choice), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) at 4 percent first choice (five percent second choice), round out the list of GOP candidates whose combined first and second choice support exceeds five percent. Another nine candidates named by respondents do not breach this level of support.

Among Republican voters who name Christie as their first choice, more than six in ten cannot name a second choice. For the few who do, Bush is their first fallback choice, while Romney follows. “We continue to see a lot of shifting among the bottom rung candidates, given how few name them, as well as big rises for Romney and Jeb Bush, but no one comes very close to Christie among New Jersey Republican voters,” noted Redlawsk.

Democratic voters name fewer potential candidates. Besides Clinton, only Warren is mentioned as a first choice with any frequency, though she trails by a huge margin, at six percent first choice voters and five percent second choice. Vice President Joe Biden has fallen out of what little favor he had in New Jersey. A distant second to Clinton in August, Biden now gets just 1 percent of mentions as a first choice and another 5 percent as second pick. Three-quarters of Clinton supporters do not name a second choice for president; 6 percent say Biden and another 6 percent say Warren is their second choice.

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NEW JERSEY VOTERS DISLIKE CHRISTIE’S HANDLING OF ECONOMY, TAXES

Today we begin the first of two releases relating to NJ Gov. Chris Christie. This release focuses on his ratings with NJ voters. The next one will look at presidential campaign-related perceptions. For reference, we last talked about Christie’s ratings here, back in October.

The full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with text, questions, and tables.

NEW JERSEY VOTERS DISLIKE CHRISTIE’S HANDLING OF ECONOMY, TAXES; GOVERNOR’S FAVORABILITY REMAINS NEGATIVE, RUTGERS POLL FINDS

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – With speculation heating up about a Chris Christie presidential bid in 2016, the governor’s ratings with New Jersey voters are lukewarm at best, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Showing little change from October, 44 percent of registered voters feel favorable toward Christie, while 46 percent feel unfavorable. Christie’s overall job approval is a little better: 48 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove.

“Voters remain divided on how Christie is doing,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Without any recent marquee policy win and with the bloom of Sandy recovery long gone, we seem to have settled into a stasis where Democrats dislike Christie, Republicans still support him, and independents are mostly split down the middle.”

New Jersey voters say taxes (25 percent) and the economy and jobs (20 percent) remain their top two concerns, followed by corruption/abuse of power and education (tied at 13 percent each). Christie continues in negative territory on most top issues. His job approval on taxes is down two points since October to 31 percent, and down three points on the economy to 35 percent. Also, voters remain negative about Christie’s handling of the budget (down five points to 32 percent approval) and the pension fund (24 percent approval, unchanged since last August). Forty-two percent approve how he handles education.

The governor’s performance on Sandy recovery ties his all-time low, declining seven points in the past two months to 53 percent, a level last seen in April 2014. Approval of his handling of crime and drugs is down six points from October to 46 percent.

Voters are also more negative than positive on the direction of the state as a whole: 40 percent say New Jersey is going in the right direction while 49 percent say it is on the wrong track.

“For the most part, these are not particularly good numbers for Governor Christie,” said Redlawsk. “The declines in approval of his performance on a range of specific issues may yet lead to another drop in overall approval in the coming months, unless something changes the trend.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 750 New Jersey residents, including 646 registered voters contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Dec. 3-10, 2014. This release reports on registered voters only with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.

One bright spot: report card gets a small boost

While not even close to his post-Sandy highs, a report card on Christie provides a slight reprieve from other lackluster ratings. Voters are six points more likely to give him a B grade (31 percent) than they were in October. Correspondingly, those who grade him a C dropped six points to 22 percent. At the extremes, 8 percent give Christie an A (virtually unchanged), while the share of Ds and Fs remains essentially stable at 17 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Christie’s B rating improved among partisans of all stripes: 18 percent of Democrats (up seven points), 33 percent of independents (up four points), and 49 percent of Republicans (up eight points) give him this above-average grade. Even among voters who call the economy and taxes the state’s the most important problems and rate Christie’s performance poorly on these issues, B grades predominate at 34 percent among those concerned about the economy and 41 percent of voters focused on taxes.

“We ask a variety of questions about the governor’s performance because people have many ways of thinking about what they like,” said Redlawsk. “Voters have recently become less enamored of him personally and are more likely to disapprove than approve on most specific issues. But Christie’s report card shows the real divide, as 39 percent say he’s an A or B performer and 38 percent would put him at the bottom of the class with a D or F.”

Republican support slips on key issue

Taxes and the economy – voters’ top concerns here – continue to depress Christie’s overall ratings. His approval ratings on both are at their lowest in the nearly two years of polling. Even some Republican voters have taken a step back. While 57 percent approve of Christie on the economy and jobs (29 percent disapprove), GOP voters are much less positive about how he is handling tax issues. His approval on taxes has dropped seven points since October, to 46 percent.

Democrats maintain their negativity toward Christie on these issues. Twenty-seven percent approve (and 64 percent disapprove) of his performance on the economy and jobs. Twenty-two percent approve and 70 percent disapprove on taxes. Christie does not fare well among independents either: 31 percent approve his work on the economy and 32 percent on taxes.

“While the Democrats’ negative views about Christie are to be expected these days, it is a much bigger deal that independents are also negative on these two key issues,” said Redlawsk. “Moreover, the continued loss of Republican approval on taxes is also noteworthy.”

Voters unhappy with Christie performance on top concerns          

Among the quarter of voters who call taxes the most important problem, Christie’s overall rating are surprisingly good: they give him a 59-29 percent favorability rating and a 64-29 percent overall job approval rating. Yet these same voters are strongly negative on Christie’s actual performance on taxes. Since October, Christie has suffered a 10-point drop in his tax performance among these voters, to just 25 percent positive versus 67 percent negative. The key to this paradox, Redlawsk noted, is that Republicans tend to care most about taxes, and they remain positive about Christie overall, even as they are less than positive on some specific issues.

The 20 percent of voters who care the most about the economy give Christie a 48 percent to 47 percent overall job approval rating and split, 50 percent to 47 percent unfavorable on their impressions of the governor. But as with tax-focused voters, these respondents have become more negative on how Christie is handling their top concern. Just under a quarter now approves Christie’s work on the economy, down five points since October, while 69 percent disapprove, an increase of four points.

Economic concerns and New Jersey’s direction

Voters’ concerns about New Jersey’s economy and taxes appear to affect how they view the state’s overall performance. Among those who say the economy is their biggest concern, 37 percent say the state is going in the right direction versus 54 percent who think it is on the wrong track. Those who rate taxes as the top problem in the state are more evenly split, with 45 percent saying it is going in the right direction and 46 percent disagreeing.

Approval of Christie’s work in both of these areas is closely tied to which direction voters think New Jersey is headed. About seven in 10 voters who approve Christie’s performance on taxes and the economy also say the state is going in the right direction. Seventy percent who disapprove of the governor’s handling of the two problems say the New Jersey is on the wrong track.

Overall ratings and partisanship

While Christie’s overall ratings remain relatively stable since October, his job approval – which has usually been higher than his favorability rating – is now more closely in line with voters’ impressions of the governor. Ninety-two percent of those favorable toward Christie also approve of his job performance, while 87 percent of those unfavorable toward Christie do not.

Voters in both parties show little change in their impressions of Christie since October, when the governor’s favorability rating took its first net-negative turn in a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. While independents’ feelings about Christie are split, 47 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable, Democrats and Republicans take very different positions. Just 21 percent of Democrats have a favorable impression of the governor, versus 69 percent who do not. Republicans are virtually the opposite, at 74 percent favorable and 17 percent unfavorable.

Christie’s overall job approval among Democrats has slipped five points to 22 percent; 73 percent now disapprove. Independents are holding steady at 52 percent approval to 42 percent disapproval. Over eight in 10 Republicans support the job the governor is doing.

Partisan opinions on where New Jersey is headed match closely with the governor’s ratings. More than half of Democrats (57 percent) say New Jersey is on the wrong track; just 31 percent think the state is going in the right direction. Republicans believe the opposite: 62 percent say right direction, while 33 percent say wrong track. Independents, however, are more positive about Christie himself than they are about the state as a whole: 51 percent think the state is on the wrong track, while just 38 percent think things are going in the right direction.

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Chris Christie and the Intersectional Gender Gap

By Elizabeth Kantor

Elizabeth Kantor, a junior at Rutgers University, is the Lead Data Archivist and a methodological intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

In voting behavior and political attitudes, there exist consistent and predictable differences between men and women, known as the “gender gap.” According to the Eagleton Institute of Politics’ own Center for American Women and Politics, since the 1980s, women have been more likely than men to identify as and vote for Democrats, less likely than men to approve of the job performance of Republicans, and more likely than men to approve of the job performance of Democrats. Yet New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seems to defy the odds once again. In our own numbers on the governor’s overall job approval from our most recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, the gender gap seems nonexistent. As we reported, 50 percent of women in New Jersey approve of Christie’s job performance compared to 47 percent of men – a statistically insignificant difference that runs counter to gender gap expectations.

But in actuality, the gender gap is not a simple dichotomy. When Christie’s job approval is broken down by race and gender simultaneously, a more accurate interpretation of the gender gap emerges. This kind of analysis, resembling an analytical approach in women’s and gender studies called “intersectionality,” looks at the impact of the intersections of multiple identities, such as race, class, and gender, rather than of each identity alone.

As noted earlier, when looking solely at gender, women are more likely than men to say they approve of Christie’s job performance. When Christie’s approval is looked at solely by race, 55 percent of white New Jerseyans approve, compared with only 34 percent of non-white New Jerseyans; we would expect this, given that Republicans are less racially diverse than are Democrats. When looking at race and gender together, we find that while 57 percent of white women approve of Christie’s job performance compared to 53 percent of white men, only 28 percent of non-white women approve of Christie’s job as governor compared to 39 percent of non-white men.

Thus, the lack of a gender gap in Christie’s job approval can be explained by the fact that, while non-white women are 11 points less likely than non-white men to express approval of Christie, gender differences function in the opposite direction for white respondents, who make up a larger portion of the weighted sample (69 percent white vs. 31 percent non-white); thus, white women have more than twice as much influence on the overall distribution of opinion. While of course only limited conclusions can be drawn due to small sample sizes, intersectional analysis sheds light on how race and gender interconnect to create a more complete picture of New Jersey voters’ views of their governor, specifically, and on political figures and issues, more generally.

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 734 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.

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NEW JERSEY VOTERS SEE KEY CHRISTIE TRAITS IN LESS POSITIVE LIGHT

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

NEW JERSEY VOTERS SEE KEY CHRISTIE TRAITS IN LESS POSITIVE LIGHT
Perceptions of governor’s trustworthiness, other positive traits, continue to decline

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Trust in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has continued to decline further after hitting an all-time low last March, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 22 percent of Garden State voters now say “trustworthy” describes Christie “very well.” Another 35 percent think it applies only “somewhat well.” Nearly 40 percent say the character trait no longer applies to the governor.

By comparison, 43 percent said trustworthy applied to Christie very well a month before his November 2013 re-election, and 32 percent said somewhat well. Only 20 percent thought it did not apply at all. Immediately following January’s “Bridgegate” revelations, the share of voters holding this position plunged 16 percentage points; it has since declined an additional five points.

“Not that long ago, voters were very likely to see Christie as trustworthy. This was especially noteworthy given how little people trust most politicians,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers. “Bridgegate, of course, changed that view for many. And once trust is lost, it can be hard to recover.”

Perceptions of Christie as a “strong leader,” “effective,” and “fair,” which all took significant hits immediately after the G.W. Bridge lane-closing story broke, have also continued to decline.

Nearly half (47 percent) of voters still say strong leader applies very well to Christie, but this is down 19 points since October 2013 with half the drop coming immediately after Bridgegate. Views of Christie as effective are also down 19 points to 31 percent of voters who now say the word applies very well, but two-thirds of that decline has come in the past several months. The 27 percent who say fair fits very well is a 14-point drop since October 2013, with most of the decline coming immediately following the news about Bridgegate.

“The controversy surrounding the lane closures in Ft. Lee had an immediate impact on nearly every assessment of Christie, with positive trait assessments continuing to fall since,” said Redlawsk. “This may be a key to the governor’s overall favorability and job performance ratings decline. People care about issues but they also look for important character traits in assessing their leaders.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 734 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.

Negative perceptions of Christie stable since January

Besides seeing Christie as less trustworthy and effective, voters have lowered their opinion of the governor regarding other positive character traits since January. Fifty-three percent now say “smart” fits him very well, a decline of five points. Only 25 percent, a new low, call “reformer” a very apt label, and just under half still see Christie as “independent.” Sixty-two percent still consider “fighter” a very appropriate description, but even this represents a 10-point drop in the past year.

Unlike positive traits, voters’ perceptions of negative traits that might apply to Christie have changed little since an initial increase in the immediate Bridgegate aftermath. Sixty-seven percent of respondents now say “stubborn” fits very well, the highest total to date and a 13-point increase during the past 12 months. The change has been only three points since January, however.

More than half (54 percent) of voters now think “arrogant” applies very well to Christie, just three points higher than in January, but up eight points in a year. “Self-centered” is unchanged from January’s poll, when an 11-point increase brought the total to 47 percent who thought the description applied very well. Perceptions of Christie as a bully are now at 42 percent, nearly flat since January, when they had climbed nine points to 43 percent who saw the term as applying very well.

Voters’ emotional responses to Christie also remain steady since January, after significant decreases in positive feelings and increases in negative feelings following Bridgegate. About a third of voters say they are proud and enthusiastic when they read or hear about the governor, similar to January. Worry, at 45 percent of voters, is up a few points, and anger, at 37 percent, has subsided a bit since earlier this year.

A closer look at three traits

While the poll examined a wide range of positive and negative traits, Redlawsk said what voters most want their officeholders to be are “effective, trustworthy, and strong leaders.”

“As perceptions of these traits become less positive – especially among independents and co-partisans – leaders can lose key bases of support. We may be seeing exactly that over what has become a long year for Christie since last fall’s victory,” he said.

Trustworthy

Republicans and men are significantly fueling the declines in perceptions in Christie’s trustworthiness. Republicans show the biggest drop since last October: 27 points to 48 percent saying it fits very well today. Most of this damage occurred right after Bridgegate. Among independents, trust as a particularly apt descriptor dropped 23 points in the past year, to 21 percent. Fewer than 10 percent of Democrats, who always have had misgivings about Christie, still ascribe trustworthiness to him.

Unlike the 19-point drop in trustworthiness among women, most of which came between October 2013 and January 2014, the 23-point drop among men has occurred more gradually. Today, 23 percent of women and 20 percent of men think trustworthy applies very well to the governor.

Effectiveness

Republicans, at 55 percent, are now 23 points less likely to say the label effective applies very well to Christie than one year ago. Independents’ perceptions of effectiveness have dropped 22 points in the same period, to 31 percent. Democrats show a 12-point decline, with 19 percent now saying effective describes Christie very well.

Perceptions of effectiveness among men, who typically have been stronger Christie supporters than women, have dropped by 22 points; for women the drop has been 15 points. Among the former group, most of the decline has been in recent months.

Strong Leader

Perceptions of Christie as a strong leader, which skyrocketed following Superstorm Sandy, are down 25 points (to 48 percent saying the term fits very well) over the past year among independent voters. Among Republicans, the drop is 18 points, although 75 percent still say strong leader describes Christie very well. Just 29 percent of Democrats agree, down 15 points since last October. For Republicans, unlike Democrats and independents, most of this drop occurred immediately after Bridgegate.

Only 48 percent of men now say strong leader fits Christie very well, a decline of 22 points in a year. During the same period, women show a 17-point decline to 46 percent, all but erasing the small gender gap that once existed.

“After Bridgegate crushed Christie’s overall ratings, we saw a small rebound this past spring and summer,” said Redlawsk. “But the continuing loss of support on these key traits, especially among Republicans and men, appears to have caught up with overall perceptions of the governor’s favorability and job performance, helping to drag down both of these ratings.”

 

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