Just one in five voters (21%) say New Jersey is on the right track and, according to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson Universityís PublicMind™, Republican Chris Christie continues to lead the Democratic incumbent governor by a margin of 45%-39% in the race for governor. Another 15% say they are unsure. "Even though itís early in the campaign, it is remarkable that a Republican is running ahead in New Jersey," said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll.
Christie, the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, has increased his statewide name recognition to 87%, up 25 points since April. However, his ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion has shifted away from him even as Corzine has begun advertising. One-third of New Jersey voters (34%) say they have a favorable view of Christie versus one quarter (25%) who have an unfavorable view, up from 12% in April. Another quarter (28%) say they have not formed an opinion. "Christie still has upside potential," said Woolley, "and part of the campaign this summer will be the race to define him."
Among all voters, 54% say their view of Corzine is unfavorable, while 31% say their view is favorable. "The governorís key weakness right now is among Democrats," said Woolley. Forty-eight percent of Democrats say their view of Corzine is favorable but 37% say their view is unfavorable. In fact, only two-thirds of Democratic voters (66%) support Corzine, while one in five (20%) say they prefer Christie and 13% are undecided.
"The governorís numbers contrast strongly with support for the president," added Woolley. Among all voters, 61% approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job, including 86% of Democrats. But one quarter of voters who approve of Obama (27%) say they prefer Christie and another 15% say they havenít decided. In contrast to Obamaís 61%-29% approval rating, Corzineís approval stands at 36%-49%.
Christie also edges Corzine on two secondary measures. Asked which candidate is better described as "honest, trustworthy," Christie comes out ahead by 33%-24%. Asked which candidate better "understands the concerns of the average person," Christie wins 40%-28%. Corzine bests Christie only on the question of which candidate "has the background and experience to be a good governor," 42%-29%.
Most voters accept the tax increases contained in the new budget. A majority (55%) say itís a good idea to eliminate the property-tax deduction on state income tax for those earning more than $250,000, while 37% say itís a bad idea. These numbers have turned around sharply since April when voters were asked about making the cut-off $150,000. In that case, two-thirds (66%) were opposed. In addition, 64% say increasing taxes on wine and liquor is a good idea to raise money for the state; 31% say itís a bad idea. A majority (56%) say that itís a good idea to limit property tax rebates to senior citizens and others making less than $75,000. A majority (52%) say itís a good idea to force state workers to take nine unpaid days off, while 40% say itís a bad idea. And 50% say eliminating 7,000 state jobs is a bad idea; an idea that was dropped from the budget considerations.
"The state budget may be squared away for the governor," said Woolley. "But clearly the election is not."
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 803 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from June 22, 2009, through June 29, 2009, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Peter Woolley 973.670.3239
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