Plenty of Republicans running for office in the next election cycle would no doubt be delighted to have New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaign with them on their home turf. Some even talk of seeing his name somewhere on the GOP presidential ticket in 2012.
But a poll released Tuesday finds that almost two-thirds of New Jersey voters would not vote for their tough-talking, budget-slashing governor for president, compared with just 25 percent who would. He doesn’t get many Garden State votes for vice president, either.
Still Governor Christie's job performance within the state shows him having “a good first year,” says Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, which released the new survey. According to the poll, Mr. Christie finishes the year with a 46 percent positive job approval rating. While that may not sound all that good, Mr. Carroll points out: “a conservative Republican in a blue state – that’s not bad.”
Christie, who was elected in November 2009, took over the reins of a state with a gaping budget deficit and residents who are fuming over their whopping property taxes – the highest in the nation. One place he has tried to cut state and local spending is on education, a challenge in a state that ranks very high in national assessment tests.
Polls in New Jersey show most everyone likes their local teachers. Still, 55 percent view the teachers union in a negative light, despite the union's investment in feel-good ads to win public support, the Quinnipiac poll found.
“Christie seems to be winning this battle,” says Mr. Carroll.
In addition, New Jersey residents seem to like many of Christie's actions to whack spending, according to the poll. The governor gets a thumbs up (46 percent approval vs. 38 percent disapproval) for backing out of a plan to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River, even though it would help speed Garden State commuters into New York.
The issue that appears to be most damaging to Christie is his decision to change a historically liberal state Supreme Court. The resulting furor has damaged the reputation of the court, said former Democratic Gov. Brendan Byrne in a NJ.com interview on Monday. According to the Quinnipiac poll, residents say(45 percent versus 39 percent) that it's a bad idea to shift the political philosophy of the court. [Editor's note: The original version was modified to give the correct party affiliation of Mr. Byrne.]
“Is he trying to reform an aggressive and activist court, or is he interfering?” asks Carroll. “Overall, on the court thing, the voters are not on his side.”