By John Celock
While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) record low approval rating remains the same in a new poll, voters are saying that they believe his governorship has been wrong for the Garden State.
A Monmouth University Poll released Monday, the first since the state government shutdown, shows that Christie retains a 15 percent approval rating, mirroring polling before the shutdown. The poll does show that most voters are angry with Christie over his decision to vacation at the governor’s official beach house in a closed state park during the shutdown and view his governorship has hurt New Jersey. Christie, who is term limited this year, has been scoring approval ratings that are below every other New Jersey governor and at the bottom for all currently serving governors in the nation.
The poll indicated that 80 percent of New Jersey voters polled disapprove of Christie’s job approval, with the 15 percent saying they approve of the two term Republican. The poll had only 30 percent of New Jersey Republicans approving of Christie, while the Democratic-controlled state Legislature – with a 23 percent approval rating – and President Donald Trump – with a 35 percent approval rating – were more popular in New Jersey than Christie.
The poll showed that 55 percent of New Jersey residents believe the state is worse off for Christie’s governorship, a rise from 41 percent last year. Fifteen percent said the state is better off.
The poll shows a continuing drop in Christie’s approval with state residents, just under four years after Christie was easily reelected over Democrat Barbara Buono.
Christie’s decision to vacation with family and friends at the state-owned beach house in Island Beach State Park, which was closed during the shutdown, did not go over well with New Jersey residents. The poll showed that the press photographed beach trip was greeted with words like disgusted, anger and disbelief, while selfish, hypocrite and arrogant were used to describe Christie’s character. The poll also found that less than 10 percent of those surveyed had anything positive to say about Christie’s trip to the beach.
The beach trip has been greeted with wide spread derision among the state’s political class with one legislator proposing to rent the beach house to the public and another proposing banning the governor from the beach house during future shutdowns. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), the GOP nominee for governor, described Christie’s beach trip as “beyond words” and has said that she’ll sell the beach house if elected.
State government shutdown for three days at the beginning of the month after lawmakers and Christie could not reach a budget deal, based on opposition from state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) to legislation Christie proposed to give the state greater power over Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield, including being able to take money out of the insurance giant’s reserve fund to pay for an opioid addiction fund Christie has sought. Christie has made opioid addiction his signature issue. The Horizon bill was largely backed by South Jersey Democrats, who have been at odds with Prieto over the speaker’s future atop the state Assembly. The bill was opposed by labor and business interests statewide.
The poll showed that 54 percent of those surveyed believe that Christie and the Legislature are equally to blame for the shutdown, while 28 percent put the blame with Christie alone and 14 percent place it with the Legislature alone. The shutdown ended after Prieto and other legislative leaders negotiated a compromise with Horizon.
The poll also showed that Christie’s frequent out of state travel during his second term, as he pursued national political ambitions, has hurt his standing in New Jersey. Seventy nine percent of those surveyed said that they believed Christie puts his own ambitions ahead of New Jersey, while 14 percent said they believe that Christie was focused on being governor.