In the wake of the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal, a new poll showed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating is underwater for the first time during his tenure as governor. The Fairleigh Dickinson University survey released Tuesday found only 41 per cent of New Jersey voters approve of Christie’s job performance, compared with 44 per cent who disapprove.
This poll is the first time Christie’s approval rating has been a net negative. Previously, Christie’s worst approval-to-disapproval split had been 44-44, in May 2011. The numbers are the latest polling indicating the “Bridgegate” scandal is taking a toll on the carefully crafted bipartisan brand Christie built in his first term and the lead-up to his landslide re-election victory last November.
“Unfortunately for the governor, the investigation appears to be turning him into a more polarising figure,” said Krista Jenkins, the director of the poll. “As recently as late last year, his approval numbers were consistently bigger than his disapproves — by a pretty big margin — and more voters liked everything about him than disliked everything about him.”
Jenkins also noted Christie’s slipping numbers don’t bode well for his national ambitions and potential presidential candidacy.
“One of the defining characteristics of the governor that makes him a nationally sought after Republican is his widespread appeal in a Democratic state. Bridgegate continues to erode that asset,” she said.
Here’s a chart showing the rise in Christie’s approval rating in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the subsequent crash early this year:
According to the FDU poll, most of the decline in Christie’s numbers has come from independent voters and crossover Democrats changing their view of the governor. Just 24 per cent of Democrats approve of his job performance, as well as 47 per cent of independents. In October, leading up to his landslide re-election victory, 47 per cent of Democrats and 60 per cent of independents approved of Christie’s job performance.
Meanwhile, a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted late last month but released on Tuesday found Christie’s “trustworthiness” at an all-time low. Just 23 per cent of those surveyed said the word “trustworthy” applies “very well” to Christie, which is down 20 points from October. Multiple other recent polls have showed Christie losing support among independents and falling behind in a hypothetical presidential election matchup against Hillary Clinton.
The two new polls were released on the same day Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff who was fired for her role in the George Washington Bridge lane closures, appeared in court to determine whether she must provide documents relating to the lane closures. Lawyers for Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, also appeared at the hearing to request their client not be forced to provide documents subpoenaed by the New Jersey Legislature’s committee investigating the Bridgegate scandal.
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