Gov. Phil Murphy's approval rating has taken a hit since the COVID-19 pandemic began with slightly less than a majority of voters saying he should be re-elected in the fall.

The Monmouth University Poll comes before campaigning really begins but shows significant support for Murphy. He had a job approval rating of 71% at the early stages of the pandemic. That has now dropped to 57%.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, notes it is not uncommon for the governors to have high poll numbers at the start of a crisis. Chris Christie saw his meteoric rise in the polls after Superstorm Sandy plummet but still won reelection.

Murphy's poll numbers are not without weakness. Less than half of New Jersey voters believe he should be reelected at 48% but only 43% say he should not be given another term. That leaves a good number of voters who are undecided.

The Monmouth Poll did take a look at some critical issues facing New Jersey. That's where Murphy could have some concerns. About 25% say he has no real accomplishments. Only 31% think he has helped the middle class. Less than half think he cares more about governing the state than his own political career. Murphy also gets poor marks on property taxes, where only 14% of voters believe he has made things better.

Trying the handicap the gubernatorial race at this early stage is impossible. Few voters are really paying attention to the race, and the campaign has not even begin yet. The power of incumbency certainly gives Murphy the advantage over presumptive republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli, but there are areas where Ciattarelli could capture voters attention.

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