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Chris Christie Still Soaring With NJ Voters [AUDIO]

In every poll released since Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is scoring off-the-charts high marks.

Governor Christie - Hurricane Sandy
Governor Chris Christie’s approval rating soared because of his response to Sandy. (Tim Larsen, Governor’s Office)

Even Christie has said his stratospheric approval numbers would settle back down to Earth some day.

That day is not today, at least not according to the very latest Fairleigh Dickinson University-Public Mind poll released this morning.

“Governor Christie continues to ride high with the public,” says Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “He comes in at 66 percent approval for his job performance. 20 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing.”

Christie Has Bi-Partisan Support

Christie’s job performance continues to receive bipartisan support. Although a blue state, a solid majority of Democrats (55 percent) and independents (61 percent) approve of the job Christie is doing and even more Republicans (83 percent) give the governor high marks.

Other groups who are not considered among his supporters’ usual suspects include women (62 percent), those from union households (52 percent), and non-whites (56 percent).

A majority of voters are also pleased with the direction the state is headed. 57 percent say it’s headed in the right direction. Twenty-six percent say we’re headed down the wrong track.

“The Governor’s strong numbers, both in regard to his job performance and perceptions of how the state is faring, underscore the broad base of support he continues to enjoy,” says Jenkins.

Christie Versus Buono

This is a gubernatorial election year in New Jersey. Christie is running for re-election. Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono is his presumptive opponent. The survey shows Buono trailing Christie in a big way.

Were the gubernatorial election to be held today, Christie would be favored by almost 60 percent of registered voters (58 percent) while his presumptive Democratic challenger, Senator Buono, is favored by about a fifth (22 percent). The remainder say they would be unsure about their choice (20 percent).

How Does Christie Compare to Corzine?

In 2009, when Democratic Governor Jon Corzine was running for re-election, the numbers were reversed. Corzine was perceived more negatively than favorably, and his approval was far beneath that of Christie’s. While Christie gets 66 percent / 20 percent approval to disappoval numbers, Corzine’s numbers were upside down. 40 percent approved of the job his was doing in March of 2009 while 46 percent disapproved.

“Although the state is facing a different set of challenges than it was four years ago,” explains Jenkins, “It’s worth noting how capable this Governor appears to be in transcending partisanship in a Democratic leaning state.”

Turning Trenton Upside Down

Christie often claims that his leadership has helped to turn things around in Trenton and the public largely agrees. When asked how much, if at all, the governor has changed how government runs in New Jersey, a quarter (25 percent) say he’s brought about “a great deal” of change, and an additional 47 percent believe he’s been able to affect “some” change.

The poll shows two additional areas of strength for the Governor. First, when asked a question about how both his personality and politics factor into an individual’s opinion of him, almost half (48 percent) say they like both. The remainder says they like him but not his policies (18 percent), they don’t like him but like his policies (12 percent), or they dislike everything about him (17 percent).

“Governor Christie’s behavior and decisions since the last time we asked this question have clearly resonated with Democrats in the state,” says Jenkins. “Calling out Republican congressional leaders for their unwillingness to vote on Sandy aid for the state before the last session expired, and accepting federal dollars for the expansion of Medicaid are no doubt contributing to the rosier haze that surrounds the governor among Democrats.”

Medicaid Expansion

Christie’s approval extends to his controversial decision to accept federal funding for the expansion of health care to the state’s poor under the Affordable Care Act. Sixty-nine percent believe Christie’s decision is the right one for the state.

“Although nationally the Republican Governor has been criticized for opting New Jersey into the Affordable Care Act through Medicaid, Garden Staters of all political stripes are solidly behind his decision,” explains Jenkins, “This was a much anticipated decision, and the fact that it’s being received so favorably, particularly in an election year, brings additional reassurance to the Governor.”

The statewide poll of 702 registered voters was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from March 4th through March 10th, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.

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