He wants to raise taxes and give drivers licenses to unauthorized immigrants, ideas that are unpopular in the Garden State. But a new poll finds many New Jerseyans have positive feelings about Gov. Phil Murphy.

According to the Rutgers Eagleton poll, Murphy has a 46 percent approval. About 29 percent disapprove. His favorability matches Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman's back in the 1990s.

The poll also finds 12 percent of New Jerseyans have never even heard of the Democratic governor, who took office in January.

“Gov. Murphy is on some pretty solid ground starting out in the first few months of his administration," poll director Ashley Koning said.

 

Not surprisingly, Murphy is more popular among Democrats, with 54 percent of them having a favorable impression, compared to 30 percent of independents and 17 percent of Republicans.

Only 5 percent of Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of him, while 26 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans have unfavorable feelings.

The poll also finds residents are basically divided over the direction the Garden State is heading, which is actually an improvement.

Koning says in recent years, by a 2-to-1 margin, residents felt New Jersey was headed in the wrong direction. But now “45 percent say the state is headed in the right direction; 48 percent say it’s off on the wrong track.”

“Democrats and independents, by double digits, are much more likely to say things are headed in the right direction but even Republicans have a slightly more positive view.”

The poll also finds the most popular political figure in the Garden State is Jersey’s junior U.S. senator.

“Cory Booker continues to shine with 46 percent favorable, to 25 percent unfavorable,” says Koning.

She adds after senior U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s federal corruption trial last year ended in a hung jury, his approval numbers remain lackluster, with 37 percent disapproving of the job he’s doing and 33 percent thinking he’s doing a good job.

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