Gov. Jon Corzine continues to struggle with the budget and New Jersey voters even as he officially filed for re-election. According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson Universityís PublicMind, 49% of voters disapprove of the job Corzine is doing while 40% approve. "Sometimes timing is everything," said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. "Heís the only incumbent governor in the country up for election this year as the financial crisis hits."
Among Democrats, six of ten approve of the job he is doing (61%), but independents disapprove by more than two to one (58 to 25) and Republicans disapprove by almost five to one (77-16). Just 33% say they have a favorable opinion of Corzine, while 56% have an unfavorable opinion, a shift from measurements taken a month ago that showed 38% favorable and 48% unfavorable.
In trial primary heats for the nomination--against leading Democrats who are not in fact challenging the governor--Corzine beats Senate President Richard Codey 45%-37% and Newark Mayor Cory Booker 48%-33%, though in both cases his margins are half what they were a month ago. "For Corzine, it will be all about getting and keeping the party behind him," said Woolley.
In a general election trial heat against Republicans, Corzine continues to trail former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie by nine points, 33%-42%. Just 58% of Democrats line up behind Corzine while 78% of Republicans prefer Christie. Christieís name recognition continues to climb, to 62% from 57% a month ago; and 31% have a favorable opinion of the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey while 12% have an unfavorable view.
Corzine runs even with former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan 37%-36%. Loneganís name recognition rose to 41% from 33% in the past month. Meanwhile, Christie leads Lonegan among Republican voters by two-to-one, 43%-21%, with 32% unsure. Assemblyman Rick Merkt and Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine each get 2%.
Voters reject some of the governorís budget proposals and agree with others. By 72%-19% voters say they prefer the state hold the line on spending even if programs need to be cut rather than raise taxes. Republicans and Democrats agree itís a bad idea to reduce state aid to municipalities, a measure which can directly affect property taxes. They also agree by substantial margins that itís a bad idea to make cities and towns defer payments to pension funds. On the other hand, voters say itís a good idea to require state employees to take 12 unpaid vacation days, and a good idea to limit property tax rebates to seniors and people making less than $75K a year. But Democrats by a wide margin (65-25) say itís a bad idea to cut 7000 state jobs while Republicans by a wide margin (58-29) say itís a good idea.
The governorís previous association with the Wall Street firm Goldman-Sachs is not necessarily hurting him. Nearly half of voters (48%) have no opinion of the firm or have not heard of it. Among those who have an opinion of the firm, the governor runs behind regardless of whether votersí opinion of the firm is favorable or unfavorable. The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 809 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from March 30, 2009 through April 5, 2009, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. Samples for some questions, as noted in tables, are smaller.
Peter Woolley 973.670.3239
For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.