NJ voters give Christie the cold shoulder, poll finds
Fresh off a failed presidential run, Gov. Chris Christie is not exactly receiving a hero's welcome from the people of the Garden State.
While Christie is attempting to restore some bi-partisanship with a Democratic Legislature reluctant to work with him, he may have to do most of his fence-mending with New Jersey voters.
The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds Christie's favorability rating at its lowest point yet, and more evidence of collateral damage from his time spent out-of-state campaigning.
Just 29 percent of New Jersey voters have a favorable opinion of Christie, his low point to date, down four points since December. His unfavorable rate is holding steady 59 percent, an all-time high.
"New Jersey voters are not welcoming back Governor Christie with open arms," said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University.
The governor's job approval does not fare much better, remaining at its all-time low of 33 percent, with 61 percent disapproving. Those figures are virtually unchanged since December.
While Christie still has Republicans in his corner, even they are growing more negative, now at 63 percent favorable (down seven points) to 25 percent unfavorable.
Koning said the unfavorable trend started in August 2015 for Christie.
"This has been following Governor Christie since he officially hit the campaign trail over the summer," she said. "He's been seeing some of his lowest ratings and all-time lows ever since August, with a majority disapproving and unfavorable towards him."
The polls from Rutgers-Eagleton have specifically asked voters about the governor's time spent out-of-state. Koning said their have been consistent responses and concerns about his abandonment of New Jersey, his attitude/personality, and his trustworthiness.
"After six months on the campaign trail and a year of being mostly out of state, Governor Christie is not being welcomed by New Jerseyans with open arms - in fact, quite the opposite," Koning said. "Even during the most contentious moments of his governorship - his polarizing first years in office or in Bridegate's immediate aftermath - the governor's numbers never reached the consistent lows we saw throughout his run for president and see now upon his return."
Koning believes seeing him physically out-of-state and with attention from New Jersey has turned voters against Christie, more so than ever before.
The road back to regaining public support will be a long and difficult one for Christie.
Showing he is committed to New Jersey, along with successfully tackling hot-button issues, such as taxes, pensions, and road and bridge repairs, are some of the ways Christie can begin the healing process, according to Koning.
"Hopefully if the governor is back focusing full-time on New Jersey, that could be potentially improve his ratings among New Jersey residents."