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Christie maintains high approval rating

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Gov. Chris Christie's job approval numbers remain sky-high, but a new poll suggests a partisan divide on economic issues.

A new Rugers-Eagleton Poll finds 70 percent of New Jerseyans approve of the first-term governor's overall job performance, and 64 percent have a favorable impression of the governor. Wide majorities of Republicans (87 percent), Democrats (85 percent) and independents (88 percent) say they approve of Christie's handling of the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort.

"The post-Sandy 'rally around Christie' effect has continued much longer than we might have expected," said David Redlawsk, the poll's director. He pointed out that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has seen his poll numbers drop 20 percent since his peak popularity. Most of that hit came after Cuomo signed a package of tough new gun regulations.

However, voters say the economy and taxes are the two most important problems facing the state, and on those counts Christie's numbers are weaker and show a wider partisan split

Only 41 percent of respondents said they approve of Christie's handling of the economy and taxes. Forty-eight percent disapprove of his handling of the economy and 50 percent disapprove of his record on taxes. However, when broken down by party, more than 60 percent of Democrats disapprove of his handling of those two areas and more than 60 percent of Republicans approve.

"Given the sizeable split on nearly every specific issue we poll on, it is clearly his image as a strong leader in the aftermath of the storm that continues to make the difference," Redlawsk said.

Democrats in the state Legislature have made a point of criticizing Christie on the economy. They note New Jersey's April unemployment rate of 8.7 percent is still well above the national unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. However, unemployment in New Jersey has been falling steadily since January, when it stood at 9.5 percent.

The poll was conducted June 3-9 and included 888 New Jersey adults. It had a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.

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