Category Archives: Chris Christie

NEW JERSEY VOTERS DON’T SEE GOVERNOR AS GOOD FIT FOR PRESIDENT

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

OVAL OFFICE, CHRISTIE PERFECT TOGETHER? NEW JERSEY VOTERS DON’T SEE GOVERNOR AS GOOD FIT FOR PRESIDENT

Majority thinks he will run but 58 percent say ‘presidential’ is not apt description

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Gov. Chris Christie prepares to host town hall events in New Hampshire, scene of the first 2016 presidential primary, an increasing number of New Jersey registered voters think Christie would not make a good president, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 24 percent think Christie would be a good president, while 69 percent say he would not, a 10-point increase in negativity since a February poll.

Voters are mixed on the likelihood of Christie becoming the Republican nominee. Forty-four percent say the governor’s chances have worsened over the past few months, 46 percent say they are about the same, but only 6 percent say they have improved.

Moreover, given a range of character traits, 58 percent of voters say “presidential” does not describe Christie “at all,” versus 28 percent who think it describes the governor “somewhat well” and 10 percent who say “very well.”

Still, most voters do not think these declining prospects will deter New Jersey’s governor: 57 percent still believe he will become a candidate, 32 percent do not, and 11 percent are unsure. In December 2014, 63 percent thought he would try for the GOP nomination and 25 percent did not.

“Voters who know Gov. Christie best simply do not see him as president,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “New Jerseyans have watched him in good times and bad. While his strengths were on display after the Sandy disaster, he was seen as just another politician after the Bridgegate scandal and the investigations it spawned, and he has never recovered.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 860 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from March 27 to April 3, including 722 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Only his staunchest supporters envision ‘President Christie’

A Christie presidency is difficult to envision for most groups. Belying Christie’s claims that he appeals to Democrats and independents, 85 percent of the former group and 68 percent of the latter say the governor would not make a good president. Seventy-one percent of women, 66 percent of men, 79 percent of nonwhite voters, and 72 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) feel the same. Given the governor’s attacks on public employee unions, it is not surprising that 80 percent of voters in public union households say Christie would not make a good president.

Likewise, a majority of most groups would not describe Christie as presidential. Seventy-three percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents say this does not describe Christie at all; another 21 percent and 29 percent, respectively, say it describes him somewhat well.

A surprisingly small majority of his most likely supporters can see Christie as a good president: 53 percent of Republican voters and 55 percent of those with a favorable impression of Christie. Twenty-five percent of GOP voters think presidential describes Christie very well and another 40 percent “somewhat well.” Thirty-two percent say the word does not describe him at all.

“It does seem that Christie’s better shot at the presidency might have been in 2012,” noted Redlawsk. “While New Jersey voters were also not keen on him running when we asked in 2011, the national environment was very different, with many Republican leaders begging him to run. Four additional years in office have not helped his case, even with his near-universal support right after Superstorm Sandy. It’s a different Republican pool, and a Bridgegate-damaged Chris Christie.”

Voters still expect a Christie Campaign

Despite declining job ratings at home and his apparent status as an also-ran in national Republican polls, a majority of respondents – 58 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents, and 63 percent of Republicans – still expect Christie to run for president. Age and levels of education are more significant variables than political affiliation. Expectations that Christie will run decrease with age: 68 percent of voters, 18 to 34, say he will, compared to 41 percent of voters 65 and older. Belief that Christie will run increases among more educated voters: 49 percent among those with a high school education or less to 66 percent of those with graduate work.

Those who say Christie would make a good president are slightly more likely to say he will run, 65 percent compared to 55 percent who say he would not make a good president. Voters who believe “presidential” aptly describes Christie are also more likely than those who do not to believe he will seek the Republican nomination.

Mixed views on Christie’s presidential chances

Given relatively little positive press for the governor’s presidential efforts over the past few months, the vast majority of New Jersey voters do not think Christie has made any further gains towards 2016. Only Republicans (at 12 percent) and supporters of Christie and the job he is doing (at 10 percent) reach double-digits in believing that his presidential chances have improved.

Instead, voters are mostly split between whether Christie’s chances have worsened or remained the same. About the same share of independents (44 percent), Democrats (48 percent) and Republicans (48 percent) think his chances have not changed in the past few months. But 46 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents say Christie’s chances have worsened, along with 38 percent of Republicans.

Even voters with a favorable impression of Christie do not think things have improved for him in terms of 2016. Fifty-seven percent of his supporters say that Christie’s chances remain unchanged; another 26 percent say they have worsened. But the large majority of those unfavorable toward Christie see his chances declining: 60 percent think they have gotten worse, while 37 percent say his chances are holding steady. Only 2 percent think things have gotten better for the governor.

Voters who believe Christie will run in 2016 are more evenly split on his chances – 44 percent say they have worsened, 47 percent say they remain about the same. Voters who think Christie will not run are slightly more likely to say things have gotten worse: 51 percent to 46 percent who say his chances have not changed. Even those who believe Christie would make a good president and consider him “presidential” are squarely in the “unchanged” camp.

 

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GOV CHRIS CHRISTIE’S NJ RATINGS: NEW LOWS FOR OVERALL JOB APPROVAL, SANDY, AND TAXES

Today we take our regular look at ratings given to Gov. Chris Christie by NJ voters. The story is pretty similar to February, when his favorability rating hit an all-time low. While that rating ticked back up slightly, the governor’s job performance rating fell some more, and in particular for the first time fewer than half approve his performance on Sandy recovery.

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

CHRISTIE’S NEGATIVE RATINGS CONTINUE; NEW LOWS FOR OVERALL JOB APPROVAL, SANDY, AND TAXES

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds Six in Ten Voters Say Garden State is on the Wrong Track

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As N.J. Gov. Chris Christie increases his focus on a potential presidential campaign, he continues to be met with negativity back home, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Fifty-four percent of New Jersey registered voters disapprove of the overall job Christie is doing as governor, while 41 percent approve. Though relatively steady from February, this is his highest job disapproval to date.

On Superstorm Sandy recovery, Christie’s job approval has dropped below 50 percent for the first time: 48 percent now approve, down 7 points from February and far below his April 2013 peak of 87 percent. Forty-four percent currently disapprove his work on Sandy recovery.

Approval ratings for Christie on issues other than Sandy recovery are also low. Christie reaches new depths on taxes (26 percent approve, 65 disapprove) and the state budget (28 percent approve, 61 disapprove), and maintains his low water mark of 31 percent approval on the economy and jobs.

Christie’s overall favorability rating stands at 48 percent unfavorable, somewhat improved from his 53 percent unfavorable rating in February. The 38 percent who are favorable is essentially unchanged from February’s 37 percent favorable.

Negativity toward Christie himself parallels voters’ assessments of the direction of the state itself. Sixty percent of voters say the Garden State is on the wrong track, the highest number since just before Christie’s first election in October 2009. Thirty percent say New Jersey is going in the right direction – a 10-point drop from December 2014 and less than half of the quarter-century high of 61 percent in June 2013.

“Often, as the economy improves, voters feel more positive. But in this state there is now widespread feeling that things are on the wrong track,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “While the governor continues to explore a national run, voters back home are expressing more and more concern about what’s happening in New Jersey and the governor’s performance in dealing with these issues.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 860 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Mar. 27- Apr. 3, 2015, including 722 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Christie losing Republican support at home

Despite the relative steadiness of Christie’s overall ratings between February and now, there seems to be growing dissent on the governor’s job performance amongst his base. Democrats (24 percent approval) and independents (40 percent approval) remain steady in their assessments. Republicans, however, show a double-digit drop over the past two months; job approval is down 10 points to 69 percent and disapproval is up 11 points to 27 percent. Moreover, while 68 percent of GOP voters continue to have a favorable impression of Christie, this is down five points from February.

About a quarter of Democrats and 36 percent of independents have a favorable impression of Christie, with Democrats steady over the past two months and independents up five points.

Republicans continue to be split over Christie’s performance on important issues. On their top concern, taxes, 44 percent approve of his approach while 49 percent disapprove. They are slightly more positive on the economy and jobs (47 percent approve to 44 percent disapprove); Christie receives approval from only about a quarter of Democrats and independents in these two areas.

On the state pension fund, Christie’s lowest-rated issue with 22 percent approval from all voters, a plurality of Republicans remains in the governor’s corner – 45 percent approve (up 8 points from February) and 34 percent disapprove (down 5 points). On the other hand, Democrats and independents rate performance here worst of all, at 8 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

“It is one thing to lose support among Democrats and even independents, but losing GOP voters is a big problem,” said Redlawsk. “We’re now seeing the decline in support for Christie among Republicans that we predicted in February based on leading indicators. When those who should be Christie’s strongest cheerleaders turn away, things are clearly not going well for him here in New Jersey.”

Christie still receives high marks from Republicans on crime and drugs (69 percent), education (62 percent), and the state budget (54 percent), but 75 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents now disapprove of Christie’s performance on the budget.

Approval on Sandy drops within regions most affected

As of February, a majority of New Jersey voters continued to support Christie’s Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, always his strength. Two months later, even Sandy recovery approval has taken a downward turn for the governor. As recently as October 2014, 60 percent approved of his job performance on Sandy; today, only 48 percent do.

This decline is seen across multiple groups. Republicans’ support is down 11 points to 60 percent, while 31 percent now disapprove of Christie’s efforts. Democrats’ approval on Sandy has fallen 8 points to 39 percent, with 56 percent disapproving. Half of independents express approval on the governor’s recovery efforts – the only issue to reach 50 percent approval among this group – though this is down four points, while 42 percent now disapprove.

Christie also loses support on Sandy in areas where it counts the most – regions particularly affected by the storm two and a half years ago. In shore counties, Christie drew 60 percent approval two months ago, but more of those voters are now negative than positive on Sandy recovery – 46 percent approve to 49 percent disapprove. Urbanites also show a similar drop of 15 points, with approval now at 43 percent, while 49 percent disapprove.

Voters living in the southern region of the state near Philadelphia similarly fell 9 points to 49 percent approve (43 percent disapprove). About half of suburbanites and 54 percent of exurbanites approve of Christie’s job on Sandy.

Increasingly negative outlook on state of the Garden State

While voters’ views on the direction of New Jersey as a whole have not been generally positive since January 2014, the proportion who say the state is on the wrong track hit its highest point in six years, reaching a level of dissatisfaction rarely seen in the past two and a half decades.

Partisans of all stripes show a less positive view on the state over the past two months. Democrats and Republicans who say the state is going in the right direction are both down 7 points, now at 25 percent and 43 percent, respectively; independents are down three points, now at 28 percent. A solid majority of Democrats and independents believe New Jersey has gotten off on the wrong track, as does a plurality of Republicans.

Opinions of both men and women are equally negative: about six in ten say the state is on the wrong track. Declines in assessment of the state’s direction are especially clear among younger voters and seniors: just 28 percent of those 18 to 39 years old (down 14 points from February) and 24 percent of those 65 years and older (down 8 points) maintain a positive outlook.

The state’s voters have grown more negative across all regions. Negative views on Christie are particularly tied to negative views of the state – 79 percent of those unfavorable toward the governor also say New Jersey is off on the wrong track; just 13 percent say the opposite. Those favorable toward Christie are somewhat more split: 54 percent say New Jersey is going in the right direction, while 37 percent say wrong track.

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Do I Like You, or Do I Know You? The Question of Republicans in 2016

By Robert Cartmell

Robert Cartmell is a Data Visualization Intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a junior at Rutgers University.

It is widely speculated that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, but when it comes to the Republicans, no one is completely sure who will come through the primaries to challenge Hillary in the general election. Three of the most frequently talked about candidates are former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and New Jersey’s own Governor Chris Christie. The three governors all have different strengths, weaknesses, and ideas on key issues, but one way to attempt to identify a frontrunner is to look at their personal ratings. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll asked New Jersey voters for their impressions of each of these political figures.

At this stage in the presidential game, these three Republican figures are probably most concerned with how they perform among the GOP base. In New Jersey, 73 percent of Republican voters say they are favorable towards Chris Christie; 50 percent of Republicans say the same about Jeb Bush, and 33 percent say it about Scott Walker. Christie appears to have a clear lead in ratings within his own state, but favorability is only half the story. Christie and Bush both have a notable number of Republican voters who feel unfavorably towards them as well – 20 percent for Christie and 24 percent for Bush. Just 5 percent express this kind of negativity for Scott Walker; while he is shown the least favorability, he also garners the least disdain, probably because he is the least know among New Jerseyans.

As for other partisans in the Garden State, majorities of Democrats (70 percent) and independents (55 percent) are unfavorable towards Christie. Bush fairs better among both of these groups; 51 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Independents are unfavorable towards him. While Walker has low unfavorable numbers among these groups, at least six in ten Democrats and independents do not know who he is or have no opinion of him.

For the Republicans in 2016, there still appears to be no clear front-runner yet. We will see whether the nominee turns out to be someone who is seen as more favorable, the most unknown at this point, or the candidate who is somewhere in between. Only time – and a whole lot of campaigning – will tell.

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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.

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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

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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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