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Most NJ Residents Doubt Gov’s Bridge Story: Poll [AUDIO]

As more New Jerseyans begin to doubt Gov. Chris Christie‘s version of when and how he learned of the unannounced George Washington Bridge access lane closures, his poll numbers are plummeting.

Governor Chris Christie answers questions about Bridgegate
Governor’s Office, Tim Larsen

A new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind statewide survey of registered voters finds the governor’s job approval is down by double digits since October.

The majority of Garden State residents do not buy Christie’s story regarding Bridgegate. Asked whether the governor knew of the lane closures before emails and texts were made public, a fifth (21 percent) believes it’s somewhat unlikely that Christie didn’t know, and another third (32 percent) believes it’s very unlikely that his staff closed lanes on the world’s busiest bridge without his knowledge.

Overall suspicion of the governor’s claim is pretty constant across key demographics.

“A defining characteristic of the governor has been the public’s perception that he can be relied upon to speak honestly about issues that are both easy and difficult,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at FDU. “At least on this issue, the public seems to be saying that on balance, there’s more to the story than he’s so far revealed.”

In Tuesday’s survey, 48 percent say they approve of the job Christie is doing as governor, while 39 percent disapprove. In October, 62 percent gave the governor high marks, a number that was virtually unchanged from those in the months after Superstorm Sandy. You would have to go back to May 2011 to find the last time Christie’s job approval dipped below the 50 percent mark.

“The allegations of malicious politicking in his administration are taking their toll,” Jenkins said. “His declining approval comes at an inopportune time. His entrance on the national stage as head of the Republican Governors Association, and possible (presidential) contender for 2016, complicates his introduction to a national electorate.”

Better than a quarter (27 percent) say they dislike everything about Christie. In October, that number stood at 18 percent. Back then, 46 percent said they liked the governor and his policies. Today that number has dipped to 38 percent.

If he wants to maintain his bipartisan bona fides, the governor has to retain support from independents and so-called “Christiecrats.” Those numbers are sinking significantly. In October, 47 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents approved of his job performance. Today those numbers are 34 and 41 percent, respectively.

When asked whether they like or dislike Christie, 21 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents like the governor personally and politically. In the fall, the same groups liked everything about the governor considerably more — 28 and 40 percent, respectively.

“Although the governor still has a good amount of support among those who aren’t his natural allies, the political lovefest that often defined his relationship with Democrats seems to have cooled,” Jenkins. “Of course, this is just a snapshot, and as information about what went on in the various inquiries that are driving news of the Christie administration continues to become available, these numbers could improve.”

More than eight-in-ten (85 percent) say they’re following the GWB lane closure controversy closely.

The poll of 734 registered voters in New Jersey was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from Jan. 20 through Jan. 26 and has a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points.

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