Poll: Not a single N.J. politician holds favorability majority among residents

Jenkins: 'These are solidly Democratic politicians who represent a solidly Democratic state. And yet, none of them appear to be wowing the crowds.'

By Emily Bader
New Jersey | Apr 9, 2019 at 12:30 pm

When it comes to the favorability of New Jersey’s current and former elected officials, it seems nobody is on top, Garden State residents said.

A joint survey from the polling units at Rutgers University‘s Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University found that not one single politician scored a favorable majority among New Jersey residents.

Nearly one in five surveyed said they have no opinion of current Gov. Phil Murphy. Those who do, however, are more favorable (43%) than unfavorable (37%) toward him.

Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, the state’s two Democratic senators, have varying levels of support, the poll said. About half see Booker favorably (46%), 32% are unfavorable and 20% have no opinion. However, only 21% see Menendez favorably, 47% are unfavorable and 29% have no opinion.

Even fewer have thoughts on Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the poll found, with 46% having no opinion and 19% unsure of who he is. Among those who do know him, 13% see him favorably and 21% are unfavorable. The poll said the ambivalence about Sweeney is nothing new.

“These are solidly Democratic politicians who represent a solidly Democratic state. And yet, none of them appear to be wowing the crowds,” Krista Jenkins, professor of government and Director of the FDU Poll, said. “But they’re doing far better than two marquee Republicans.”

The state views former Gov. Chris Christie (63%) and President Donald Trump (59%) the most unfavorable, the poll found. A fifth (21%) see Christie favorably and a bit more say the same about the president (30%).

Fourth-fifths (80%) of Republicans view Trump favorably, compared to the 6% of New Jersey Democrats. Among New Jersey independents, 24% see Trump favorably and 58% are unfavorable.

Christie received less favorability than Trump from his party. Among Republicans, 43% see him favorably and 41% are unfavorable. Democrats and independents, the poll found, are overwhelmingly unfavorable toward the former governor (78% and 62%, respectively).

“Chris Christie’s recent book tour has done little to help him with New Jerseyans, who still have a bitter taste in in their mouths from Christie’s last years as governor,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University – New Brunswick. “Even President Trump fares better than Christie does in his home state, both overall and among the party base – despite playing a notable part in the Republican governor’s unpopularity.”

The poll contacted 1,203 New Jersey adults between March 7 and 22. It has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | emilybader