Only 30 percent of registered voters in New Jersey hold a favorable opinion of Gov. Chris Christie -- a candidate for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination -- according to a new poll conducted by the Rutgers University. The Rutgers-Eagleton poll was conducted prior to Christie qualifying as a participant in Fox News’ first Republican primary debate to be held Thursday.
“Asked to justify their negative assessments, 18 percent cite his character, attitude, and image as reasons for their unfavorable feelings; another 10 percent use such terms as untrustworthy, deceitful, and liar,” the Rutgers Institute of Politics said, in report outlining the findings of the poll.
“Among the 30 percent who are favorable, 28 percent point to his honesty and straightforwardness, 15 percent like his overall governing style and performance, and 14 percent each cite his personality and his attempts to better New Jersey,” according to the statewide poll of 867 people conducted between July 25 and Aug. 1.
According to the report, which also compiled previous polls, between June and August, the number of New Jersey voters who said their “general impression” of Christie -- who announced his candidacy on June 30 -- was favorable fell by nearly 10 percent. Over the past year, his favorability rating has fallen by almost 20 percent.
Christie’s overall job approval rating as governor has also shown a similar decline over the past year. Between August 2014 and August 2015, the percentage of people who disapproved of his work as governor increased to 59 percent from an earlier 39 percent.
“Governor Christie has not experienced any kind of 2016 announcement ‘bump’ in ratings from voters back home -- in fact, quite the opposite,” Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for public interest polling at Rutgers University, said in a statement. “While he has yet to challenge the record low job approval of 17 percent logged by Brendan Byrne in April 1977, he is edging toward the lowest ratings recorded for any New Jersey governor over 45 years of Rutgers-Eagleton Polls.”
Christie fared no better on individual issues, reaching a new low over his work on Superstorm Sandy recovery -- with only 46 percent approving of his work, down from his April 2013 peak of 87 percent. Additionally, Christie -- who recently said that the American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers’ union, deserved a “punch in the face” -- has also fallen to new lows over his work on education and schools in the state. His approval rating on the issue has fallen more than 10 percent over the past year, with 58 percent disapproving of his work.
The latest poll comes less than four months after a previous Rutgers-Eagleton survey found that nearly 70 percent of New Jersey’s voters thought that Christie would not make a good president -- mostly because he doesn’t fit with voters’ ideas of who is “presidential.”
“While there have been both highs and lows in the trajectory of Chris Christie as governor, voters are more focused on Christie’s personal qualities than specific events,” Koning said in the statement. “In his heyday, Christie was the tough Jersey guy you wanted on your side, the refreshing straight-talker who ‘tells it like it is.’ But at his lowest moments, these same traits have been used against him and are painted in a much more unflattering light.”