FDU poll: Most Jerseyans (including many Republicans) give Murphy high marks

Governor's Office Gov. Phil Murphy wears a face mask while touring a field hospital site.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s leadership in getting New Jersey through the COVID-19 crisis is well-regarded, with 67% who believe he’s done a good job of navigating the state through the pandemic, according to an FDU PublicMind poll released Thursday.

Murphy receives high marks from everyone, with even 44% of Republicans approving of his political leadership through the health crisis.

Conversely, President Donald Trump is roundly criticized. Fifty-eight percent disapprove of the job he’s done in managing the nation’s response to the coronavirus. Only a third (36%) approve, with Republicans (78%) being the one demographic group supportive of his leadership.

Krista Jenkins, a professor of political science at the school and the executive director of the poll, said these numbers may soon show up in elections.

“Both men are facing reelection in the not-too-distant future,” she said. “Trump is tanking across the board, except among his base, on what will be a seminal issue in November. Conversely, Murphy is pulling in admirable ratings even among his political opponents.”

While respondents support Murphy’s overall handling of the pandemic, they are not as certain on how to handle the financial impact that has come with it.

Like many states across the country, New Jersey is facing a record deficit from the shortfall of taxes and revenue due to widespread and sustained closures and the high costs incurred by efforts to address and contain the pandemic.

Survey respondents were asked about various options for dealing with the deficit, ranging from cutting services to borrowing the money through bonds and loans.

None of the solutions offered was favored by significant majorities of those living in the Garden State. Slightly more than half approve of reducing the number of government employees (52%) and a little more (56%) support the state’s current approach, which is borrowing money through bond offerings and federal loans. The least favored is an austerity measure that includes a reduction in state services (29%). Reducing state contributions to the public worker pension system (31%) and the consolidation of school districts in order to save on education costs (38%) are also not popular options.

“The economic damage to the state is epic,” Jenkins said. “Knowing what to do about how to shore up the state’s budget is tough, especially when so many are still trying to figure out their own budgets in the age of COVID.”

The survey was conducted by the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll with a random sample of 809 New Jersey adult, ages 18 and older, live callers on both landlines and cellular phones, between June 18 and June 30. The simple sampling error for 809 New Jersey adults is +/-3.8 percentage points (including the design effect) at a 95% confidence interval.

The full analysis, along with the poll’s questions and tables and a detailed methodological statement, can be found on the FDU Poll website.

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