New poll tracks Christie approval, Bridgegate interest
In its latest statewide poll of registered voters released Tuesday, Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind revealed Gov. Chris Christie's approval rating has remained virtually unchanged since its January drop.
Just before the Bridgegate scandal erupted, 61 percent of Garden State voters approved of the job Christie was doing. In the new poll, that number is 44 percent. The survey also suggested that Bridgegate fatigue could be setting in.
"Although recent news on our governor has focused on how people outside the state view him, back at home we find he continues to struggle with job approvals that are far beneath where he was before the Bridgegate scandal broke," said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Many voters do not think New Jersey is on the right track. While 39 percent are optimistic about the direction in which the state is headed, 46 percent said they were worried.
"The right direction/wrong track numbers are upside down," Jenkins said. "These numbers are comparable to those observed in June, when for the first time since 2011, the public's outlook was clearly more gloomy than optimistic."
The public's interest in Bridgegate may not be as high as media coverage would suggest. Just 24 percent said they are paying close attention to the situation while 46 percent said they were following it somewhat closely. The rest (29 percent) admitted they are paying little, if any, attention to ongoing investigations into Bridgegate, but they still had an opinion about whether or not probes should continue.
Respondents were asked if state and federal investigations into the unannounced George Washington Bridge lane closures in September are important or a distraction. Nearly half (47 percent) said it's time to move on, but 44 percent believe the investigation remains pertinent.
What entity should be leading any continuing investigations? Among respondents, 47 percent said the feds should be the investigators of record, while 33 percent said the New Jersey legislature should take the lead.
The majority of New Jersey voters are not buying Christie's story that he wasn't involved in Bridgegate; 56 percent of those surveyed said it is unlikely that the governor didn't know that his aides ordered the lane closures.
"Attentiveness to Bridgegate remains relatively low, and the governor remains unable to convince the majority of voters he knew nothing about his aides' behavior before the scandal broke," Jenkins said.