⚫ A new poll suggests partisanship wasn't as vile back in the day

⚫ A Republican ranks highest in NJ voters' memories

⚫ Gov. Phil Murphy wasn't included in the former-governor poll

New Jersey's two most recent governors rank last in a new poll that gauges residents' opinions of the state's former leaders.

The poll out of Fairleigh Dickinson University surveyed more than 800 New Jersey adults about the governors they remember. The findings suggest that folks' opinions soften over time, and leaders in the past weren't an automatic enemy of folks on the other side of the political aisle.

Overall, it was governors who led the state decades ago who came out on top in the poll.

Tom Kean, a Republican, ranked the highest; 86% of voters who were in the state during his tenure and have an opinion of it say that Kean did a good job as a governor.

Kean, who served as the state's 48th governor from 1982 to 1990, received positive marks from 95% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats in the poll.

2006 photo: Then-State Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr., right, listens as his father, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean Sr., speaks on the steps of the old courthouse in Mount Holly. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

"Kean was popular when he was in office, and remains popular now," said Dan Cassino, executive director of the poll. "His role as kind of an elder statesman for the 9-11 commission has also certainly helped burnish his reputation."

Democrat Brendan Byrne, who served before Kean, received the second most amount of support; 63% of voters say Byrne did a good job while in office.

Worse marks for Christie and Corzine

As the most recent New Jersey governor to leave office, Republican Chris Christie earned good marks from 40% of respondents. Democrat Jon Corzine, who came before Christie, received a thumbs-up from 41% of voters.

SEE ALSO: NJ's most "oddball" governors

"This isn't just rose-colored glasses," Cassino said. "Governors in the past were dealing with a less polarized electorate and had more support from the other party than any governor today could."

Dick Codey is an exception

According to Cassino, the results for former Sen. Dick Codey — who stepped in twice as governor in the early 2000s — were a big surprise. Fifty-eight percent of voters who were around for his tenure and have an opinion of it say he did a good job in office. His numbers were not only better than Corzine's and Christie's; they topped Christie Todd Whitman's, Jim Florio's, Don DiFrancesco's, and Jim McGreevey's.

State of the State New Jersey
Former New Jersey Sen. and former Democratic Gov. Richard Codey is seen before New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the statehouse, in Trenton, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In his time as governor, Codey focused on mental health and corruption crackdowns.

Phil Murphy, New Jersey's current governor, was not included in the "favorites" race, because voters were asked to rate the totality of one's job performance, and Murphy's job isn't done yet.

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