Democrats like Murphy … but poll says that’s pretty much it
Gov. Phil Murphy’s approval ratings haven’t changed much this year, a new Monmouth University Poll finds, with New Jerseyans fairly evenly divided in their assessments of him though more united in their opinion that he lacks major accomplishments.
The survey of 713 adults finds 41% approve of the job being done by the Democratic governor and 38% disapprove. There was a similar three-point spread in a February poll by Monmouth, 43% to 40%.
“So Phil Murphy’s, in many ways, kind of flying under the radar,” said poll director Patrick Murray. “He has support from his fellow Democrats but negative ratings from independents and Republicans right now.”
The only job-rating number on the rise was the share who had no opinion, up from 17% to 21%.
“It’s within the margin of error for the polls. But it also suggests that the governor really isn’t making an impact and getting into the hearts and minds of New Jerseyans,” Murray said. “He’s not doing anything that the vast majority of New Jerseyans sit up and take note of and say, ‘Oh, this is what the governor’s up to.’”
Murray said it’s notable that Murphy’s approval number among Democrats is 71%, with his net job approval in his own party at roughly the same margin as it was a year and a half ago: “In this partisan era, we generally see those ratings more above 80%.”
The governor’s ratings among independents have slumped appreciably, from slightly positive reviews in April 2018 (41% to 33%) to slightly negative reviews in February (39% to 43%) to clearly negative views now (28% to 49%).
That downturn has happened even as Republicans appear to have gotten less alarmed about Murphy.
That’s not to say Republicans like the governor’s performance: His approval rating among GOP respondents was 16%, with 67% disapproving. But that compares with ratings of 11% to 85% in February and is substantially similar to the party’s view of Murphy in April 2018, months after he took office.
“When he came into office, in his first year, there was a lot of worry among conservatives that he was going to be really bad for business. He was going to be too liberal. But I think there’s a sense that he really hasn’t accomplished all those things that he really wanted to accomplish, and there’s been no harm, no foul,” Murray said. “So we see actually Republicans are the one who’s moving and saying, ‘You know what, he hasn’t really hurt us that much, because he really hasn’t had that much of an impact.’”
The socioeconomic group seen most clearly as being helped by Murphy’s policies have been wealthy residents, according to the poll.
The share of residents who say Murphy’s policies have no impact on middle-class residents have gone from 17% in early 2018 to 27% early this year to 36% now. As that number has grown, the shares who say his policies have helped or hurt the middle class have dropped equally.
Murray said if you’re Murphy, that’s not good.
“That is probably more the problematic part of what we’re seeing in this poll, which is not that people are saying that they agree or disagree with what he’s doing but simply saying, ‘You know what? He’s not having much of an impact on the state right now,’” Murray said.
Case in point: Just 12% of New Jerseyans say Murphy has major accomplishments as governor. Forty-two percent credit him for minor accomplishments, while 36% say he’s had no real accomplishments to point to.
“He’s not doing anything that really is resonating with the vast majority of New Jerseyans,” Murray said.