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Chris Christie’s Approvals Down, But Still High [AUDIO]

There’s a slight erosion of Governor Chris Christie’s post-Sandy job ratings, but his re-election prospects remain strong.

Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen

That’s according to a new Monmouth University-Asbury Park Press poll released this morning. The survey also finds New Jerseyans are divided as to whether the Governor’s views on hot button social issues are in line with his constituents. State Senator Barbara Buono, Christie’s Democratic challenger, has been accusing the Governor of being out of step.

Currently, Christie earns a 63 percent approve to 26 percent disapprove job rating among all Garden State residents. Among registered voters, his rating stands at 65 percent approve to 26 percent disapprove.

In February, his job approval rating was 70 percent to 17 percent among all residents and 70 percent to 16 percent among voters.

This decline has occurred across every demographic group, but he still earns majority approval from Republicans (86 percent), independents (64 percent), and Democrats (52 percent) alike, as well as from the state’s public workers (54 percent).

Almost 6-in-10 (59 percent) registered voters say Christie deserves a second term, down just slightly from his February support level (63 percent). Just one-third (34 percent) say it is time to put someone else in office and 7 percent aren’t sure whether the Governor merits re-election.

The slight drop in the Governor’s overall re-election support comes mainly from independent voters – standing at a still-solid 59 percent, but down from 68 percent in February.

For months, Buono has been focusing part of her campaign message on the charge that Christie’s views are out of step with most of New Jersey. On government spending a majority of residents (55 percent) say that Christie’s views are in line with most of his constituents, compared to 36 percent, who say he is out of step on this issue. New Jerseyans are divided, though, on whether the Governor sees eye to eye with them on property taxes. 44 percent say his views are in line with the state and 45 percent say they are out of step.

Garden State residents are also divided on whether Christie’s views on same sex marriage are in line with majority opinion in New Jersey. Compared to the state’s fiscal issues, though, a larger number are also unsure where the Governor stands on this social concern. On same sex marriage, 31 percent say the Governor’s views are in line with most New Jerseyans, 34 percent say they are out of step, and 33 percent are unsure.

“There may be some hay to be made over possible gaps between New Jersey’s take on these issues and Chris Christie’s own views,” says Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “However, social issues are not particularly relevant for swing voters in the upcoming election. Property taxes, though, may be a different story, which could explain the Governor’s renewed call this week for a property tax credit.”

On the issue of same sex marriage, 48 percent of New Jerseyans say Christie opposes allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Another 23 percent believe he favors same sex marriage and 30 percent offer no opinion.

Among the New Jersey public, a majority of 59 percent favor legalizing gay marriage and just 31 percent oppose it. This result marks the highest level of support for same sex marriage in ten years of this specific question being asked on New Jersey polls. The prior high was 52 percent favor to 34 percent oppose in February 2012.

President And Lawmaker Ratings

The Commander-in-Chief is still well-liked in blue Jersey. President Barack Obama holds a 55 percent approve to 42 percent disapprove job rating among registered voters in New Jersey. This marks a decline from the 60 percent to 33 percent voter rating he earned in February, which is similar to the size of the drop in Christie’s job rating over the same period.

New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators are doing fairly well too. Senator Frank Lautenberg currently holds a 47 percent approve to 32 percent disapprove rating among Garden State voters, compared to a 44 percent to 27 percent rating in February.

Senator Bob Menendez, who has been the subject of recent questions over dealings with a campaign donor, has a 44 percent approve to 38 percent disapprove rating among New Jersey voters, compared to a 41 percent to 31 percent rating in February.

Garden Staters are lukewarm on their New Jersey lawmakers. The state legislature earns a divided 41 percent approve to 42 percent disapprove rating from state voters. The legislature’s February poll numbers were a net positive at 40 percent approve to 35 percent disapprove.

The poll was conducted by telephone with 806 New Jersey adults from April 11 to 14, 2013. This sample has a margin of error of + 3.5 percent.

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