U.S. Sen. Cory Booker remains New Jersey’s most popular statewide elected official — although only barely, as his job approval ratings fade as he campaigns for a promotion to president, according to a Monmouth University poll.

Booker’s presidential campaign hasn’t caught fire in his home state, the poll found. Just 9% of Democrats in the state say he’s their preferred candidate for the Oval Office, and only 29% percent of residents say he would make a good president.

“Right now, Cory Booker continues to have positive approval ratings,” said poll director Patrick Murray. “They’re just not as positive as they used to be before he was running for president.”

Forty-five percent of New Jerseyans approve of the Booker’s job performance and 37% disapprove. The 8-point net approval among New Jersey adults compared with 12 points in a Monmouth poll in February and 24 points in April 2018.

Murray said part of the reason Booker’s job approval ratings have gone down is that he’s running for president while holding another elected office. He said politicians in other states don’t seem to suffer like in New Jersey and traces it to all the time then-Gov. Chris Christie spent on national politics from 2014 through 2016.

“This is fairly unique to New Jersey. And of course it’s really because of Chris Christie. The Chris Christie experience soured it,” Murray said.

The Newark water crisis may also exact a toll on Booker’s image.

Booker was mayor of Newark for more than seven years before being elected to the Senate in 2013. In the poll, about half of New Jerseyans say he has either a great deal or some responsibility for Newark’s drinking water problem. Just one in five say he has only a little or no responsibility for it.

Nine percent of Democrats in New Jersey support Sen. Cory Booker for president, according to the poll. That’s behind the national leaders, who also lead in New Jersey: Joe Biden at 26%, Elizabeth Warren at 20% and Bernie Sanders at 18%.

“Booker does better in New Jersey than he does in any of the other states that we’ve polled, but still, better is not good enough,” Murray said.

The numbers aren’t terribly relevant, as New Jersey will have one of the nation’s last primaries in June. Murray said then there will probably be two candidates remaining, not the current 19.

New Jerseyans are more in favor of Booker being on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for vice president. Forty-eight percent said he’d make a good running mate, nearly 20 percentage points more than thought he’d been a good president.

“When you consider the fact that you’ve got Democrats and Republicans in that mix, it’s a pretty solid rating for him on the number two slot, if not the number one,” Murray said.

It’s conceivable Booker could be on the ballot for two offices next year, as a candidate for Senate re-election and on the national ticket. A state law enacted nearly a year ago specifically allows it.

New Jerseyans are apparently becoming less opposed to the possibility. Half of residents now say Booker should only be on the national ticket if nominated for president or vice president, compared with two-thirds in February, according to the poll.

“So it’s still there are more people who are opposed to him running for both offices at the same time, just not as opposed as they were a few months ago,” Murray said.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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