The majority of New Jersey Republicans in a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday think Gov. Chris Christie is more interested in running for president than he is in running the Garden State.

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The majority of the poll's Republican participants also said Christie's recent trip to England was not a trade mission.

 

"When it come to his trip to England, more Republicans see it as a campaign stop; 58 percent say this was to boost Christie's political future," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. "Only 21 percent buy into this idea that it was a trade mission."

Overall, two-thirds of New Jerseyans (66 percent) believe Christie is more concerned with his own political future than he is with governing the state (25 percent). In a September survey, 56 percent thought the governor was more interested in a presidential run.

Fifty-eight percent of all poll respondents said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would make a better president than Christie, whose qualifications were preferred by 32 percent. That's not surprising in a state with 700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, Murray said.

Christie polled better among New Jersey Republicans when asked whether he or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would make a better president, topping Bush 46 to 37 percent. But the margin narrowed to 40-36 when respondents were asked who personally favored in a Christie-Bush match-up.

"New Jersey Republicans don't give Christie the overwhelming support that you think they would have for one of their own," Murray said. "Perhaps the governor took Republicans for granted here in New Jersey and we're finding, when push comes to shove, Republicans are starting to become more skeptical of Gov. Christie."

Forty-eight percent of Jersey residents approve of the job the governor is doing, while 44 percent disapprove. Among registered voters, 47 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove of Christie's performance. In September, 46 percent of all residents who took the survey approved and 39 percent disapproved.

Overall, 38 percent of Garden State residents polled have a favorable opinion of Christie while 40 percent have an unfavorable view, according to the survey. Fifty-two percent said that the governor doesn't have the right temperament to be president, but 44 percent say he does. The results are statistically unchanged when compared to Monmouth University poll taken one year ago when 54 percent said he does not have the right temperament and 41 percent said he does.

Almost eight-in-10 New Jerseyans (79 percent) believe that Christie is planning a 2016 run for president, slightly higher than September, when 75 percent said the same.

The survey was conducted by telephone with 805 New Jersey adults, including 712 registered voters, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, 2015, with a margin of error of + 3.5 percent overall and + 3.7 percent among registered voters.