Poll: Booker’s job performance not sitting well with Garden Staters

The job New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is doing in New Jersey is not being received well by its residents since he began his campaign for president, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll.

Although his job rating has stayed in net positive territory, most New Jerseyans say he would make a better running mate than presidential candidate.

The poll also found half the New Jersey public thinks he has some responsibility for the current water crisis in Newark.

The poll found Booker has earned a 45% approval and 37% disapproval rate from Garden State residents for the job he’s doing as senator, compared with the slightly lower 48%/38% rating he received in February, shortly after he announced his bid for president. However, the poll found his ratings this year are more negative than they were before his national campaign.

When comparing along party lines, Booker got a positive 71%/11% rating from Democrats, a negative 14%/69% rating from Republicans and mixed reviews from independents (40%/45%).

Residents are led to think Booker has either a great deal (28%) or some (23%) responsibility for the water crisis in Newark. He served as mayor of the city until 2013. Just one-in-five say he has only a little (10%) or no (10%) responsibility for it. The rest have no opinion or are unaware.

“Running for president can stretch the patience of home state constituents, and we are seeing some signs of that with Cory Booker. Still, he is managing to hold on to a net positive rating despite his national campaign as well as recent news that brought potentially negative attention to his time as mayor,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

In total, Booker has the support of 9% of Democratic party voters in New Jersey, trailing frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden (26%), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (20%) and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (18%). The rest follow Booker, which include California Sen. Kamala Harris (6%), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (6%) and the other candidates in a field of 19 (all received 2%).

“The field will certainly be much smaller by the time New Jersey’s presidential primary rolls around. Booker’s home state standing could change dramatically if he can score an upset win in one of the February contests. But as it stands right now, Jersey Democrats are gravitating toward the three candidates who currently dominate the national spotlight,” Murray said.

Despite Booker’s low standing as a presidential preference, he gets high scores when it comes to his personal ratings. Among New Jeserseyan Democrats and leaners, Booker has a 60% favorable to 24% unfavorable rating, similar to Biden (64%/23%), Sanders (63%/25%) and Warren (59%/17%).  Booker stands higher than Harris (43%/22%) and Buttigieg (40%/13%).

The idea of Booker being a good president isn’t sitting well among most Garden Staters. Roughly a fourth (29%) of the New Jerseyans polled said Booker would make a good president compared with the 52% who say he would not. In February, 37% said he would be a good one and 42% said he wouldn’t.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Sept. 12 to 16 with 714 New Jersey adults. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.