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Poll: Bridgegate questions linger in NJ

A new poll finds many Garden State voters still have concerns about Bridgegate, and what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said about the lane closure scandal.

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Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Bridgegate emails at a Statehouse press conference
Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Bridgegate emails at a Statehouse press conference in January.

“Seven months after Bridgegate burst the governor’s ratings bubble, about half of New Jersey voters continue to doubt the governor’s explanation of what happened, while about 24 percent say they somewhat believe him and slightly fewer than that say they fully believe him,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

He said the survey also finds many respondents have doubts about allegations of misuse of Port Authority and superstorm Sandy funds.

“More than half believe Bridgegate and other allegations are serious for the governor; 39 percent say they’re very serious and 17 percent find them extremely serious,” Redlawsk said.

Nevertheless, Redlawsk said voters actually have shifted slightly in Christie’s favor since April. He said in this latest poll “the percentage that think the allegations are extremely serious has dropped 9 points, while those who believe they are not serious at all is up 7 points.”

Redlawsk added that one hand, New Jersey voters think the governor has done “a pretty good job of putting Bridgegate behind him, but on another level, 7 in 10 voters think these allegations either very or somewhat damage his effort to run for President. Only 29 percent think it hasn’t damaged him much at all.”

He said Christie has tried very hard to put all these issues behind him, with mixed results.

“But what he seems to have been successful in I think is getting voters to think these are more like politics as usual, and that the Legislature’s investigation is a waste of time,” he said. “We’ve got 51 percent of voters saying he’s put it behind him, and three quarters of voters say these allegations are really just politics as usual and not unique to the Christie administration.”

Redlawsk said fewer than half of GOP voters fully believe Christie, which could spell trouble down the road.

“We think that could still be a problem waiting to happen. He needs a strong party base to run for president,” he said, “If republicans in New Jersey are even somewhat skeptical about Christie’s Bridgegate claims, there could be problems in other parts of the country.”

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