Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be seen favorably by New Jersey voters, helping fuel a continued positive job approval rating, according to a new Monmouth University Poll.
The latest poll found that Murphy’s overall job performance rating stands at 52% approval versus 38% disapproval. His rating has slipped slightly from 57% approval in May and 54% approval in August, Monmouth University Polling Institute noted.
However, views of Murphy’s handling of the COVID crisis remain positive, with 62% saying he has done a good job dealing with the crisis, versus 27% saying he has done a bad job. That rating is in line with May’s 65% approval and August’s 61% approval, Monmouth said.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from Sept. 16-20, with 804 New Jersey registered voters. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
“Murphy’s handling of the pandemic continues to be his strongest asset,” Patrick Murray, director of the institute, said in a prepared statement. “New Jerseyans acknowledge there have been missteps over the past 18 months, some of them very serious, but that has not noticeably weakened their overall view of his COVID performance.”
Among the negative news for the governor, 82% of voters said strict restrictions and lockdowns that the state imposed had hurt New Jersey small businesses a lot, and a combined 53% said it was “definitely” or “probably” possible to have managed the pandemic in a way that did not do such damage.
“The governor’s opponents have been trying to focus voters’ attention on what they see as major failings in his handling of COVID,” Murray said. “We don’t see evidence in the poll, though, that knowing about these issues is putting a major dent in Murphy’s numbers. This is due in part to a sense that he was right about the broader policies on masking and social distancing.”
Among other findings:
- 61% of voters supported reinstituting general face mask and social distancing guidelines;
- 51% of voters said measures taken by the state to slow the spread of COVID have been appropriate;
- 17% of voters said the state has not gone far enough in its measures, while 28% said it has gone too far;
- U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has a 51% approval rating, compared with a 32% disapproval rating (17% have no opinion);
- U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has a 43% approval rating, compared with a 35% disapproval rating (22% have no opinion).