Poll has dual message for Christie

Christie Connecticut
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, and Connecticut Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley leave a diner in Monday, July 21, 2014, in Greenwich, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Gov. Christie’s approval rating remains stable at 44 percent six months after its post-Bridgegate decline, though more New Jersey voters than not say the state is headed in the wrong direction, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released today.

Forty-one percent of voters disapprove of Christie’s job performance, compared to 44 percent in June, the poll found. The difference is within the poll’s margin of error of 3.6 percentage points..

Christie’s approval rating in the Fairleigh Dickinson poll fell from 61 percent in November – the month of his landslide reelection win – to 48 percent in January, following revelations that a top Christie aide apparently was involved in a plot to snarl traffic at the George Washington Bridge in September.

In the new poll, 46 percent of respondents said New Jersey was headed in the wrong direction, while 39 percent said it is headed in the right direction. Those numbers closely resemble findings in June – the first time since 2011 when more respondents said the state was on the wrong path than those who thought the opposite.

“Gov. Christie’s ability to maintain the support of a plurality of voters in a Democratic state, despite his troubles of late, is good. But with 46 percent of voters saying the state is heading in the wrong direction, his narrative of effective leadership is thrown in doubt,” said Krista Jenkins, the poll director and a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson.

On whether investigation into the September lane closures at the bridge should continue, 47 percent called the investigation a distraction, while 44 percent said it is still important. State lawmakers and federal prosecutors have been probing the issue; 47 percent of those polled said federal authorities alone should be responsible for an investigation, while 33 percent said it was the state legislature’s responsibility.

While the governor says he played no role in the controversy, 56 percent of poll respondents said they believe it unlikely Christie didn’t know of an aide’s involvement in the closures.