At the end of last year, as Chris Christie was preparing to leave office, his gubernatorial approval rating was about 17 percent.

According to a new poll, New Jersey’s brand new governor, Phil Murphy has much higher approval numbers — but many state residents are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.

“Right now, 35 percent say they approve of the governor, with 21 percent who disapprove, and perhaps not surprisingly most don’t have an opinion of him,” said Krista Jenkins, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll.

She said about half (55 percent ) of Democrats support Murphy, while 9 percent of Republicans do. Many independents (49 percent) are undecided.

Jenkins pointed out when Christie and Jon Corzine began their terms, each had more support than Murphy does currently.

“Forty-eight percent approved of Gov. Christie at this point, and Gov. Corzine got around the same at 47 percent," Jenkins said.

She said when people were asked what one word comes to mind when they think of Murphy, some offered neutral words — but many people seemed to be aware that Murphy promised to legalize pot during the campaign.

“'Marijuana' was offered frequently by people we spoke with, and also 'taxes' stand out for the close association that some have with the new governor,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says Murphy is making some New Jerseyans feel better about the direction the state is headed, because back in October, during Chris Christie’s final days as Governor “only 18 percent said the state was headed in the right direction, but today with Murphy at the helm, we find that more than double that number believe the state is on solid footing, at 39 percent.”

With some states taking an active stand against the policies put forth by the Trump administration, people were asked if all federal laws should be implemented, or if state leaders should defy Washington.

“Forty-nine percent say all federal laws should be implemented regardless of what state leaders think, with a third, or 37 percent, who say state leaders should act in defiance," Jenkins said.

Jenkins noted support for implementing all federal laws and policies is strongest among Republicans (73 percent), while half of independents and 35 percent of Democrats endorse this course of action.

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

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