Murphy’s ratings dropping a bit — but most feel N.J. heading in right direction

Here’s the good news for Gov. Phil Murphy — polling-wise: The view of his handling of the pandemic is up (nearly one in three give him an “A”) and most people feel the state is headed in the right direction (by a solid 52-41 percentage margin). This comes in comparison to the last Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, taken last October.

Here’s the OK news: His overall job approval rating has dropped from 62% to 55%, and those having a favorable impression of him dropped below 50% (from 54% to 47%) while those having an unfavorable opinion jumped to 36%.

Here’s what all this means: Murphy seemingly has lost the huge pandemic bump he got early, but he still appears to be in strong favor heading into the fall election.

So said Ashley Koning, the director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

“The ‘rally around the flag’ effect the pandemic has had on Gov. Murphy’s ratings in the past year is inevitably coming to an end,” she said. “But the governor still garners the kind of ratings most politicians envy, especially in a reelection year and during an increasingly polarizing crisis and recovery process.”

That more than 50% of those polled feel the state is heading in the right direction is significant, Koning said. Murphy’s 52-41 result is essentially the opposite of a poll taken in 2019, when only 44% felt the state was heading in the right direction and 56% said it was going the wrong way.

“New Jerseyans’ outlook on the state has improved over the last few years,” Koning said.

Here’s a closer look at the results from a statewide poll of 1,004 adults contacted by live interviewers on landlines and cell phones from May 21-29:

Grade Murphy’s first term:

“A”: 15%
“B”: 32%
“C”: 20%
“D”: 14%
“F”: 19%

Grade Murphy’s handling of pandemic:

“A”: 31%
“B”: 23%
“C”: 13%
“D”: 10%
“F”: 23%

President Joe Biden, who easily took the state in 2020, remains very popular: 56% of residents approve of the job he’s doing and 55% have a favorable impression.