In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie is ‘a goner’

November 9, 2017

“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” is one way of describing Governor Chris Christie’s atrocious relationship with New Jersey’s voters, based on results of a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released on November 6. The most recent statewide survey from the school’s polling division, PublicMind, finds that voters are more than ready for Christie’s departure, with few finding any evidence that he has done much good since taking office eight years ago.

Indeed, fully 41% regard Christie one of the state’s worst-ever governors; while 53% rate him as average and 4% would rank him with the best.

Two years ago, when Christie was poised to announce his candidacy for the White House, only one-fifth of voters (21%) said he ranked among the worst. Moreover, across a variety of policy areas, there have been double digit increases in the number of voters who believe conditions in the state have worsened relative to opinions expressed two years ago.

“Eight years is a long time to spend as a political leader, and Governor Christie always struggled with a legislature from the opposite party. However, there’s no escaping the reality of these numbers. Voters are ready to turn the page and leave the Christie years behind,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of the poll.

With the exception of environmental conditions in the state, a plurality or majority of voters today say conditions in the state have worsened. In 2015, the last time these questions were asked, opinions were more equally divided between those who regarded conditions the same versus those who thought things had worsened under Governor Christie’s leadership.

Many of the voters changed their opinion of the governor after his Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly ordered “traffic problems in Fort Lee” on August 13, 2013—leading to the George Washington “BridgeGate” scandal that brought her and several Port Authority executives down.

In 2015, one-fifth (22%) believed the state’s transportation system had worsened during the Christie years. Today, that number has more than doubled to 46%. Similar harm is believed to have come to the state’s reputation, as 39% in 2015 said it had become worse since Christie took office, with 57% saying the same today.

Ethical behavior is now regarded as worse today by a majority of voters (54%), whereas 42% said the same in 2015. And taxes and spending—long a hot button among New Jersey voter—are regarded as worse today than they were in 2015 (63% versus 52%, respectively).

According to the poll, the governor also has seen an increase in the number of voters who believe he has no real accomplishments to claim while in office. More than one-quarter (28%) couldn’t identify either a major or minor accomplishment in 2015, with that number increasing to 37% today. A plurality (46%) say he’s had minor accomplishments, a number that is statistically unchanged from 2015 (47%).

As for the governor’s approval rating, he ends his time in office with the lowest number recorded by the FDU Poll (which has been in existence since 2001 and has spanned four governors). Seventeen percent approve of the job he’s doing in office, with 73% who disapprove. The same is true for the measure of the state’s health, with concern at record levels for an FDU poll. Eighteen percent say it’s headed in the right direction and 71% believe help is needed.

– The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone October 11-15, 2017 among a random sample of 875 using a listed sample of registered voters with a known history of voting in past elections.

Research contact: kjenkins@fdu.edu