Only half of New Jerseyans approve of the job Governor Chris Christie is doing, a full 20-point drop in approval since last year. This from the latest poll out of the state from Monmouth University and the Asbury Park Press, which also finds NJ voters do not believe Christie on BridgeGate and doubt the investigative committee’s intentions.
The poll shows an across-the-board discontent with the way the state is being governed, according to PolitickerNJ. Christie currently only has a 50% approval rating and 44% disapproval from New Jersey residents polled. The numbers have dropped nine points in one month and twenty total points since twelve months before the George Washington Bridge scandal, when he enjoyed a 70% approval rating.
The numbers are not just political: public opinion of Christie as a person has also decreased, though it was never as high as the approval ratings for Christie, the governor. Those numbers went from 44% to 42% approval in the past month as the BridgeGate scandal developed. These numbers decreased as the number of New Jerseyans who believed Christie had a hand in closing the George Washington Bridge last year increased, up a full ten percent from 51% to 61% of residents. 92% of New Jerseyans have been following the story.
The only silver lining for Christie in this poll is that the cynicism against politicians runs deep in his state. New Jersey residents also seem to believe that he is being targeted for political reasons; a majority think, according to PolitickerNJ, that “the special committee is more interested in going after the governor [than] … in learning the facts of the case.” They are also increasingly viewing the BridgeGate incident as “politics as usual.” Last month, 55% of residents thought the case was unusual; today, a plurality (49%) think that this is politics as usual for the Christie administration.
If New Jersey residents are sending any overarching message through the answers to these poll questions, it is that they appear weary of the incident but are hopeless that the Christie administration will ever change. Cynics will note that being hopeless regarding a clean government in New Jersey is nothing new, but New Jersey residents stuck with Christie long after the “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email. After Christie’s two-hour press conference disavowing himself of any blame, one poll found that the number of New Jersey residents who considered Christie a “bully” actually went down because of BridgeGate.
Many speculate that it was not BridgeGate, but the potential misuse of Sandy funds, that ended the stream of trust from voters to the Governor. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer initially accused Christie’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, of threatening to withhold recovery funding if she did not approve a housing development. CNN then reported that the federal government was auditing Christie’s office for potential misuse of funds to campaign for himself during last year’s gubernatorial run. Since then, reports of whites receiving more Sandy funding than racial and ethnic minorities by alarming rates hit headlines, as did the news that Christie’s office spent almost $5 million in Sandy funds on a residential building in New Brunswick, a town that was barely affected by the hurricane.
Christie is expected to resume his duties as the chair of the Republican Governors Association Wednesday, traveling to Boston for a fundraising event with Mitt Romney.