By John Celock
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to traverse New Hampshire for his presidential campaign, as voters in his home state continue to look negatively towards him.
A new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Tuesday continues to show the once popular Christie continuing to have upside down approval ratings. The poll indicated that 35 percent of New Jersey residents have a favorable opinion of the second term governor, while 39 percent approve of his job performance. The poll indicated that 55 percent of those surveyed have an unfavorable opinion of Christie, while 56 percent disapprove of his job performance.
The poll showed that Christie’s favorable rating is up five points since a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in August, while his job approval rating is up two points since August. His disapproval rating dropped three points from August. Christie has had a majority disapproval rating since February of this year.
Christie’s job performance has continued to drop since his 22 point win over Democrat Barbara Buono in the 2013 gubernatorial race. In the 2013 race, Christie enjoyed high approval ratings coming off his performance in steering the state through Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Christie’s ratings though started to plummet in the aftermath of the Bridgegate scandal, which was tied to aides in his office and as he started to leave the state to pursue his national ambitions. Christie spent much of 2014 traveling the country in his role as chairman of Republican Governors Association and has spent 2015 running for president.
The poll showed that 61 percent of New Jersey residents believe the state is going in the wrong direction, while 32 percent believe it is going in the right direction.
The poll also indicated that 25 percent of New Jersey residents approve of Christie’s handling of tax policy, while 66 percent disapprove of his work on the issue.
Christie has made tax policy a top priority of his as governor. When he took office in 2010, Christie made a property tax cap for local governments and school districts a top legislative priority, along with promoting what he has called a property tax toolkit for local governments. Christie steered the tax cap through the Democratic controlled Legislature, while many parts of the toolkit – which included planks for arbitration reform and changes to public employee pensions and benefits –remain stalled in the Legislature. Christie and legislative Democrats have enacted parts of the pension and benefits package.
The poll indicated that 38 percent approve of Christie’s job performance on crime and drug issues, 31 percent approve on economic development issues, 29 percent approve on budget issues, 21 percent approve on pension issues and 36 percent approve of Christie’s handling of education policy.
Christie has been perennially at war with public employee union leaders on the state pension fund, with Christie calling for a changeover on how the pension system is handled, while union leaders have called on him to increase pension funding.
Christie and the New Jersey Education Association have been at odds since his 2009 campaign against then Gov. Jon Corzine (D), with the union opposing Christie’s advocacy for charter schools and tenure reform, along with pension and benefits reform. Christie has succeeded in getting legislative Democrats to approve a version of tenure reform. At his town hall meetings around the state, Christie has routinely been confronted by public school teachers on education issues.