Monmouth poll on governors: Murphy’s favorability rating hasn’t changed at all (and Jerseyans still like Kean, dislike Christie)

Tom Kean is still remembered fondly for his time as governor.

Chris Christie … not so much.

And the impression of current Gov. Phil Murphy hasn’t changed a bit during his time leading the state through the pandemic.

Such were some of the results of a Monmouth University poll, released Tuesday, that judged the past nine governors, going back to when Kean ran the state (1982-1990).

The poll asked about those three, as well as Dick Codey, Christie Whitman, Donald DiFrancesco, Jim Florio, Jim McGreevey and Jon Corzine. It compared favorability ratings to three other similar polls, taken in April 2018, February 2010 and September 2006.

Some of the findings:

  • Kean has a favorability rating of +19, the highest of the group, but considerably lower than in 2018, when he had a +33 rating. Kean was at +44 in 2006.
  • Murphy had the second-highest favorability rating, +16, which is the same rating he had in April 2018 — months after taking office and, obviously, pre-pandemic.
  • Christie, who was at +14 in 2010 — right after being elected for the first time — is now at -38. The only “positive” out of the number is that Christie was at -49 in April 2018.

Overall, it appears we don’t think much of our former governors.

Only Kean (+19) and Codey (+7) scored well. Whitman (+1), DiFrancesco (even) and Florio (-1) were all in the middle. McGreevey (-6), Corzine (-11) and Christie (-38) were in the negatives.

Murphy’s rating remained the same, but more people have an opinion of his efforts.

In April 2018, he had a favorability rating of +42 and an unfavorable rating of +26 — with 32% having no opinion.

Now, Murphy has a favorability rating of +50 and an unfavorable rating of +34, with only 16% saying they have no opinion.

Christie, meanwhile, is remembered for scandal.

When asked to describe what they remember most about Christie’s eight years in office, 1 in 4 mention the Bridgegate episode (26%). This is followed by his closure of state parks and a related meme of him sitting on the beach (12%). Only 9% of state residents mention his response to Superstorm Sandy, and just 6% mention accomplishments on the state budget, taxes and pensions.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said Christie’s interest in the White House did not serve him well with voters.

“The sense that Christie turned his back on New Jersey in pursuit of higher office was the main reason for a sharp drop in his ratings by the time he left office,” Murray said. “Incidents like Bridgegate or Beachgate serve as vivid memes for this lingering sentiment.”

One in three surveyed feel Christie still has presidential ambitions.

Kean, meanwhile, is one of only three former governors who maintains a positive favorability rating. And it comes from all circles, as he is viewed positively by Republicans (+28), Democrats (+20) and independents (+16). Kean is a Republican.

Here’s a look at the overall favorability ratings:

  • Kean +19
  • Murphy +16
  • Codey +7
  • Whitman +1
  • DiFrancesco Even
  • Florio -1
  • McGreevey -6
  • Corzine -11
  • Christie -38