New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is pushing for more than a billion dollars in new tax hikes to cover his proposed state spending plan, something that most people usually don't like.

However, a new survey finds he’s getting a fairly positive job rating so far.

The latest Monmouth University poll finds 44 percent of New Jersey adults approve of the job Murphy is doing, while 28 percent disapprove and 28 percent have no opinion.

“These numbers are better than either Chris Christie or Jon Corzine when they were three months into their terms,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

During his first few months in office, Chris Christie had a 41 percent approval rating and 44 percent disapproved of the job he was doing, and Jon Corzine had a 34 percent approval rating with a disapproval rating of 37 percent.

The poll finds 65 percent of Democrats think Murphy is doing well, while 7 percent disapprove of his performance so far. Meanwhile only 17 percent of Republicans give the governor a thumbs-up and 59 percent disapprove.

Murray pointed out even though Murphy has a healthy approval rating, “we’re finding that just 9 percent of New Jerseyans are satisfied with Phil Murphy’s budget, 29 percent say they can live with it and 23 percent are dissatisfied.”

About 38 percent of people indicate they have no opinion of the spending plan, or have not heard about it yet.

So why does Murphy get such a relatively high approval rating?

Murray believes it’s because fewer New Jerseyans are paying attention to him.

“I think a lot of Phil Murphy’s good will right now is really built around the fact that people have yet to tune in. We saw that in the election: Very few people knew what Phil Murphy stood for.”

When asked whether Murphy is more concerned with governing New Jersey, or more focused on his political future, poll respondents were split with 40 percent saying he is more focused on helping the Garden State while 39 percent believed his top priority is his political future.

Murray said when people were asked about the governor helping the middle class, an issue he campaigned on, “we find that just 26 percent expect that his policies will help middle class residents in New Jersey, and in fact 41 percent, a greater number, say they will actually hurt the middle class.”

“When we turn specifically to property taxpayers, just 17 percent expect that property tax payers are going to get a boost from Phil Murphy," he said.

Murray noted the poll finds 38 percent of respondents think poor residents will be helped by Murphy’s policies, while 29 percent say they will be hurt.

He pointed out Gov. Murphy has talked a lot about fixing NJ Transit, and the poll also finds 28 percent of New Jerseyans think the governor will help transit riders, but 19 percent say they’ll be hurt by his policies, while 34 percent say they’re not sure.

The poll was conducted by telephone between April 6 and April 10th, with 703 New Jersey adults. The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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