Gov. Christie's budget numbers may appear to be heading south. A nonpartisan analyst may say he's short about $250 million in revenue for the last fiscal year, and three credit rating agencies may have said that his $31.7 billion budget is based on overly optimistic revenue projections (8 percent), as my colleague Joelle Farrell reported this morning.
And by the way, unemployment in the state may be 9.8 percent, compared to 8.1 percent nationwide.
But Christie's poll numbers are going in the opposite direction. Either voters don't know, don't care or don't blame Christie for these fiscal issues.
I reported yesterday on a new Inquirer New Jersey Poll, which shows Christie's favorability ranking at 56 percent. What pleased Christie's camp more is his job approval of 59 percent, with 36 percent disapproving. That's a 23-point swing, a giddy Christie adviser pointed out to me.
Christie tied with President Obama, a Democrat, as the most popular of eight politicians polled on favorability. That's quite unusual: What other state likes its Democratic president AND its Republican governor? No others, at least as far as I could tell when I looked at this earlier this year.
In an interview this morning on NJ101.5, Christie dismissed concerns about revenue as political. "The people in this state understand who is fiscally responsible and who isn’t," he said. "These are the same jokers who you know raised taxes and fees 115 times in the eight years before I became governor and still had an $11 billion dollar deficit to show for it."
Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Christie's political nemesis (okay, ONE of his political nemeses), clocked in with just 34 percent favorability in The Inquirer poll. Despite the fact that he's been in and out of office for the better part of three decades, a full 20 percent of New Jerseyans said they never heard of him, and another 15 didn't know enough to rate him.
The other Democratic New Jersey senator, Robert Menendez, did worse. His favorability was 33 percent -- but he's still beating his challenger in the November election, Christie besty/GOP State Senator Joe Kyrillos, by a 43 to 32 percent margin.
I blabber on more about this later today in the daily Philly.com Express show, which can be found here.
Maybe you agree with these poll findings. Or maybe you agree with the anonymous South Jersey woman who left me this voicemail yesterday: "That article is a big joke. You're from Philadelphia. People don't know what youse are talking about."