According to a new Farleigh Dickinson PublicMind Poll released Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie's job approval rating is at a low of 41 percent, down seven percentage points from January when the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal that has plagued the governor's office widened.
Another 44 percent reported they disapprove of the job Christie's doing. The numbers reflect a steep decline from November, when Christie maintained a 61 percent job approval rating while coasting to re-election.
"Unfortunately for the governor, the investigation appears to be turning him into a more polarizing figure," FDU professor and poll director Krista Jenkins said. "As recently as late last year, his approval numbers were consistently bigger than his disapproves – by a pretty big margin – and more voters liked everything about him than disliked everything about him. One of the defining characteristics of the governor that makes him a nationally sought after Republican is his widespread appeal in a Democratic state. Bridgegate continues to erode that asset."
Though Christie has historically maintained an unusually high-level of support among public employee union households, it appears to also be on the decline, down to 28 percent from 44 percent last October.
"With someone other than Governor Christie, these numbers wouldn't be noteworthy," Jenkins said. "However, his appeal to groups who are historically antagonistic to someone with a history of tangling publicly with unions was always something that helped to burnish his bipartisan appeal. This, too, appears to be a casualty attribute to Bridgegate, at least for now."
According to a separate Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Tuesday, just 23 percent said "trustworthy" applied to Christie very well, reflecting a 20-percentage point decrease from October. Another 38 percent reported that trustworthy describes Christie somewhat well, and an additional 35 percent said it does not fit him at all.
Despite this, the number of state residents who see Christie as a bully is slightly down from an all-time high in January and more than half still describe the governor as a "strong leader."
"The Bridgegate and Sandy allegations continue to take their toll on perceptions of the governor's positive personality traits," Rutgers professor and poll director David Redlawsk said. "In particular, trustworthy was one of Christie's hallmarks, especially given voters' normal cynicism about politicians. Losing the trust of voters puts Christie into the category of an ordinary politician. At the same time, his overall New Jersey ratings remain pretty good for a Republican in this blue state."
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