While Acting Governor Richard Codey is getting the benefit of the doubt from New Jersey voters, President George Bush is not. According to the most recent results from the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, half of Garden Staters continue to think the country is “off on the wrong track” and a majority rate his job performance as “only fair” or “poor.”
The President’s electoral showing in New Jersey was much better in 2004 than in 2000, losing by just 7 percentage points rather than 16. Nonetheless, as he approaches his second inaugural, 50% of New Jersey voters say the country is on the wrong track while only 36% say the country is headed in the right direction.
The President’s job rating has not improved either as 43% of voters say his performance has been excellent or good compared to a majority of 56% who say his performance has been fair or poor. In fact, nearly a third of voters (31%) rate the newly re-elected President’s performance as poor, while only 3% rate the new Acting Governor’s performance as poor and 30% are withholding their judgment on the new Governor.
“Bush is a known quantity; Codey is not,” said Bruce Larson, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and survey analyst for PublicMind. “Codey will get a honeymoon, Bush will not.” While half of voters see the nation headed in the wrong direction, nearly that many, 45%, see New Jersey off on the wrong track. “Codey has to deal with the legacy of McGreevey and he’s not yet being held responsible for that,” added Larson. “Bush has to deal with his own legacy from his first term.”
A majority of voters (57%) also conclude that the US military effort in Iraq is going “not too well” or “not well at all.” This too is unchanged from PublicMind polls during the campaign season. Even in the nine counties Bush won in November, voters are split 50-50 over the progress of the military effort. “One hoped that as the Iraqi election neared voters would feel the situation improving,” added Larson. “But attacks and casualties have escalated as the Iraqi elections near and voters remain apprehensive.” A majority (54%) also continue to say that the war was a mistake.
“It’s unusual in the contemporary era for a newly elected or re-elected President not to get at least some benefit of the doubt even from voters who didn’t elect him,” said Larson. “But this campaign season was intensely polarizing, and the situation in Iraq is more complicated than most of our foreign military confrontations.”
The PublicMind poll of 800 registered voters statewide was conducted from Jan. 2nd to Jan. 9 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
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