As he attempts to build support for a possible 2016 presidential bid, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's standing among the state's voters has dropped to an all-time low, according to a new poll.
The poll, from Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics, found that for the first time a clear majority of New Jersey voters disapprove of the job the governor is doing, with 52 percent of voters disapproving of his performance, while 42 percent approve -- a drop of six points since Dec. 2014.
Voters attributed their lack of support for Christie to a variety of factors. Twenty percent mention his attitude and behavior; 15 percent refer specifically to the “Bridgegate” scandal, and 10 percent believed he was shunning his duties in New Jersey to pursue presidential ambitions.
The poll also revealed that a key bloc of voters who had supported Christie in the past -- independents -- were deserting the governor. The poll found that favorable impressions among residents fell a record-breaking 16 points since December to 31 percent. Meanwhile, the share of independent voters with an unfavorable impression of Christie 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 poll director David 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.”
In addition to the drop in support from independent voters, the poll found Christie's ratings dropped among Republicans on key issues, though he still retained an overall positive assessment from Republican voters.
While 47 percent of Republican voters approved of Christie's performance on taxes, his approval rating among GOP voters on the issue of the economy and jobs has fallen 11 points to 46 percent. Forty-eight percent of Republicans now disapprove of his performance in this area -- a massive 19-point increase since December 2014.
Christie also suffered a drop in support among his Republican 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).
The governor's sometimes brash and outgoing personality, long seen as an asset with the state's electorate, was cited by 20 percent of those surveyed when asked to explain what polls have been showing. The “Bridgegate” scandal, which saw Christie staffers use the Port Authority as a weapon against his political opponents, also ranked highly amongst voters' concerns -- coming in a close second at 15 percent.
The poll surveyed 813 New Jersey residents between Feb. 3-10, including 694 registered voters. It has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points.