Heading into his inauguration, Governor-elect Jon Corzine inherits a state that, according to nearly half of voters, is headed in the wrong direction. According to the most recent results of Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll, just one-third of New Jersey voters (34%) say the state is headed in the right direction while 48% say the state is “off on the wrong track.” The good news for Corzine is that those numbers are improved from late October when two-thirds of voters were dissatisfied with the direction of the state.
“Voters' opinions of the state's direction were bound to improve a little once we got past the extremely negative campaign season,” said Peter Woolley, director of the poll. “The campaign itself was making voters cranky.” Still, the numbers are worse than one year ago in January when voters split 40-45 over the question of whether the state was headed in the right direction.
Dick Codey's reputation is not hurt by voters' dismal views of the state. Two-thirds of those who recognize him say they have a favorable opinion of him. Consequently, the outgoing accidental governor maintains an impressive 5:1 ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion. By contrast, the incoming governor's ratio is 4:3, with 43% of voters who have heard of Corzine saying they have a favorable opinion of him, 31% saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him and 26% saying they have not formed an opinion of him.
Codey's popularity is not enough to displace Tom Kean, Sr. from his spot as most popular former governor. Kean placed first on that list a year ago when Codey was still making his first State-of-the-State address. Kean remains the top voter getter this year even though the outgoing governor was included in this year's poll.
A quarter of voters (26%) pick out Tom Kean, Sr. as the best former governor, while 18% say it was Christie Whitman and 16% say it was Codey. Kean did best among both men and women, among independent voters, and among every age category except the youngest, 18-34. “Tom Kean's national visibility on the 9-11 Commission and his distance from the rough and tumble of New Jersey politics have cemented his reputation,” said Woolley. “Codey, on the other hand is choosing to stay in the rough and tumble.”
Jim McGreevey keeps his top spot as worst former governor with 29% of voters picking him, but Whitman (24%) and Jim Florio (23%) are close behind. Democrats are most likely to pick Christie Whitman as the worst former governor. Republicans and independents are most likely to pick Jim McGreevey as the worst. “The real contrast seems to be between McGreevey and Whitman who both inspire partisan views and Kean and Codey who don't,” said Woolley.
The PublicMind poll of 707 randomly selected registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from January 3 through January 10 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
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