JERSEY CITY, New Jersey — A poll by Farleigh Dickinson University finds that more New Jersey voters disapprove of Governor Chris Christie’s job performance than approve of it, a first for the two-term governor.
The poll, out on Tuesday, finds that 41% of New Jersey voters approve of the job Christie is doing, while 44% disapprove. According to the Star-Ledger, this is a first in Christie’s tenure, and a precipitous drop from where he was the month BridgeGate burst into the national spotlight: back then, 61% of voters approved of his job performance.
The disapproval is seeping into Governor Christie’s support among independents. Only 47% of independents say they approve of the job the governor is doing, down almost twenty points from 66%. His support among Republicans fell from 84% to 66%, and support among Democrats from 42% to 24%.
Another poll released Tuesday may hint at just why BridgeGate has caused such turmoil in the Christie camp. The Rutgers Eagleton Institute released a poll that shows that New Jerseyans have never trusted Governor Christie less than they do now. Only 23% of New Jersey residents surveyed would describe him as “trustworthy,” down from 43% last October. Thirty-five percent say the label “trustworthy” does not fit the Governor “at all.”
The poll also found that, with the news on BridgeGate becoming a slow trickle rather than a daily water hose’s worth of allegations, opinions on Christie are becoming increasing stable over the weeks. Half of Democrats and 35% of independents would describe him as a “bully,” while more than half of Republicans say the label does not fit. Democrats are 9% less likely to call him a bully today than when Rutgers asked in January, when more than half of the state thought the Governor was lying about his role in the Bridge scandal. Back then, a Quinnipiac poll found that BridgeGate made Christie look like “less of a bully” than was the state perception before his extensive press conference alleging he knew nothing of the incident.
One interesting fact to emerge from the Rutgers poll is that those directly impacted by BridgeGate are much less likely to trust Governor Christie: “Voters using the GWB at least weekly are 11 to 13 points more likely to say bully fits Christie very well, compared to voters who never cross it.”
The polls bring unfortunate news to the Christie administration as the New Jersey legislature begins its second round of hearings on the George Washington Bridge incident on Tuesday. Former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien are set to arrive in court; they are fighting the subpoenas and insisting they have a Fifth Amendment right not to testify. During the first round of hearings, former Port Authority official David Wildstein also pleaded the Fifth, but he was held in contempt for doing so. Wildstein, who received the fateful order to cause “some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” has threatened that he will do so again unless given prosecutorial immunity.