New poll puts Murphy’s approval rating at 57 percent among New Jerseyans

With six months to go before voters decide whether to give him a second term, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has a 57-percent approval rating among state residents, though less than half of those questioned aren’t quite ready to support his reelection, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

Thirty-five percent of voters disapprove of Murphy’s job performance, giving him a solid 22-point net positive rating.

New Jerseyans aren’t quite as bullish when asked if Murphy, a progressive Democrat, deserves a second term; 48 percent say he should be reelected while 43 percent say he should not. The governor also gets low marks on helping property taxpayers.

Other than California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s facing a recall, Murphy is the only incumbent governor on the ballot this year.

“Murphy has a pretty strong job rating going into his reelection bid. However, New Jersey voters are a fickle lot and a good number will sit on the fence until we get closer to the fall campaign in case things go south for the state,” Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray said in a statement that accompanied the poll results.

Former state Assemblymember Jack Ciattarelli is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination to challenge Murphy on Nov. 2. Respondents were not asked for whom they plan to vote in November.

The poll also did not ask residents specifically about Murphy performance during the pandemic.

Murphy’s approval rating is strong for an incumbent in normal times, but it’s down substantially from the number he achieved at the height of the pandemic in April 2020, when Monmouth measured his approval rating at 71 percent.

The decline was widely expected. Murphy’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, saw a similar boost in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and cruised to reelection in 2013, but became the most unpopular governor in state history by the end of his second term.

There have been few public polls of Murphy in recent months, and none that have measured him against Ciattarelli. The most recent poll, a Stockton Universtiy survey released March 31, showed Murphy with a similar 58 percent to 36 percent approval rating.

Other results of the Monmouth poll:

— By a margin of 49 percent to 41 percent, residents say Murphy is more concerned with governing the state than with his political future. By late in Christie’s term, after he had unsuccessfully run for the Republican presidential nomination, 79 percent of residents said he was more concerned with himself than the state.

“A lot of New Jerseyans feel like they’ve already been bitten by a governor who cruised to reelection during a time of crisis. I think that probably dampens some voters’ enthusiasm about giving Murphy a second term,” Murray said.

— Among those surveyed, 34 percent said Murphy has “major accomplishments” he can point to, 37 percent said he has “minor accomplishments” and 25 percent say he has no real accomplishments.

— A strong plurality, 46 percent, said Murphy’s policies have hurt property taxpayers, while just 14 percent say they’ve helped. New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, which Murray described as a “perennial thorn for state officeholders.” But Murray said the issue isn’t currently a high priority for voters in the fall.

— A slight plurality of respondents, 36 percent, said Murphy’s policies have hurt the middle class, while 31 percent said they’ve helped it and 25 percent said the governor’s policies haven’t affected the middle class. That’s an improvement from a 2019 poll in which just 17 percent said Murphy’s policies have helped the middle-class.

A bigger plurality, 43 percent, said the governor’s policies have benefited poor residents, while 22 percent said those policies have hurt the poor and 22 percent said there’s been no impact. Voters are evenly split on whether Murphy has helped or hurt the rich — with 22 percent on each side of the question — while 38 percent said he’s had no impact despite presiding over a tax hike on income over $5 million in 2018 and income over $1 million in 2020.

— Residents are evenly split on whether Murphy’s policies have helped or hurt businesses, at 21 percent each. Another 38 percent said his policies have had no impact on New Jersey’s businesses. One of Ciattarelli’s main attacks on Murphy centers around the struggles of businesses because of state-imposed pandemic restrictions.

— Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said Murphy’s policies have helped transit riders and 18 percent say they’ve hurt them. Murphy, who has promised to improve NJ Transit “if it kills me,” has struggled to fix the beleaguered agency, which has been plagued for years by delays, hardware problems and staff shortages.

The Monmouth poll also questioned New Jerseyans about the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and President Joe Biden.

Biden’ approval rating in New Jersey is similar to Murphy’s, with 55 percent approving of the president’s job performance and 39 percent disapproving. The same holds true for Booker, who has a 57 percent positive to 35 percent negative approval rating. Menendez is in positive territory, but substantially lower than Booker, at 46 percent approve to 36 percent disapprove.

The Democrat-controlled state Legislature as a whole gets positive marks, with 47 percent of those questioned approving and 38 percent disapproving.

Monmouth surveyed 706 New Jersey adults between April 29 and May 4. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Read the full poll on Monmouth University’s website.

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during his 2021 budget address at SHI Stadium at Rutgers University, Aug. 25, 2020, in Piscataway, NJ. | Noah K. Murray/ AP Photo

With six months to go before voters decide whether to give him a second term, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has a 57-percent approval rating among state residents, though less than half of those questioned aren’t quite ready to support his reelection, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

Thirty-five percent of voters disapprove of Murphy’s job performance, giving him a solid 22-point net positive rating.

New Jerseyans aren’t quite as bullish when asked if Murphy, a progressive Democrat, deserves a second term; 48 percent say he should be reelected while 43 percent say he should not. The governor also gets low marks on helping property taxpayers.

Other than California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s facing a recall, Murphy is the only incumbent governor on the ballot this year.

“Murphy has a pretty strong job rating going into his reelection bid. However, New Jersey voters are a fickle lot and a good number will sit on the fence until we get closer to the fall campaign in case things go south for the state,” Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray said in a statement that accompanied the poll results.

Former state Assemblymember Jack Ciattarelli is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination to challenge Murphy on Nov. 2. Respondents were not asked for whom they plan to vote in November.

The poll also did not ask residents specifically about Murphy performance during the pandemic.

Murphy’s approval rating is strong for an incumbent in normal times, but it’s down substantially from the number he achieved at the height of the pandemic in April 2020, when Monmouth measured his approval rating at 71 percent.

The decline was widely expected. Murphy’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, saw a similar boost in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and cruised to reelection in 2013, but became the most unpopular governor in state history by the end of his second term.

There have been few public polls of Murphy in recent months, and none that have measured him against Ciattarelli. The most recent poll, a Stockton Universtiy survey released March 31, showed Murphy with a similar 58 percent to 36 percent approval rating.

Other results of the Monmouth poll:

— By a margin of 49 percent to 41 percent, residents say Murphy is more concerned with governing the state than with his political future. By late in Christie’s term, after he had unsuccessfully run for the Republican presidential nomination, 79 percent of residents said he was more concerned with himself than the state.

“A lot of New Jerseyans feel like they’ve already been bitten by a governor who cruised to reelection during a time of crisis. I think that probably dampens some voters’ enthusiasm about giving Murphy a second term,” Murray said.

— Among those surveyed, 34 percent said Murphy has “major accomplishments” he can point to, 37 percent said he has “minor accomplishments” and 25 percent say he has no real accomplishments.

— A strong plurality, 46 percent, said Murphy’s policies have hurt property taxpayers, while just 14 percent say they’ve helped. New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, which Murray described as a “perennial thorn for state officeholders.” But Murray said the issue isn’t currently a high priority for voters in the fall.

— A slight plurality of respondents, 36 percent, said Murphy’s policies have hurt the middle class, while 31 percent said they’ve helped it and 25 percent said the governor’s policies haven’t affected the middle class. That’s an improvement from a 2019 poll in which just 17 percent said Murphy’s policies have helped the middle-class.

A bigger plurality, 43 percent, said the governor’s policies have benefited poor residents, while 22 percent said those policies have hurt the poor and 22 percent said there’s been no impact. Voters are evenly split on whether Murphy has helped or hurt the rich — with 22 percent on each side of the question — while 38 percent said he’s had no impact despite presiding over a tax hike on income over $5 million in 2018 and income over $1 million in 2020.

— Residents are evenly split on whether Murphy’s policies have helped or hurt businesses, at 21 percent each. Another 38 percent said his policies have had no impact on New Jersey’s businesses. One of Ciattarelli’s main attacks on Murphy centers around the struggles of businesses because of state-imposed pandemic restrictions.

— Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said Murphy’s policies have helped transit riders and 18 percent say they’ve hurt them. Murphy, who has promised to improve NJ Transit “if it kills me,” has struggled to fix the beleaguered agency, which has been plagued for years by delays, hardware problems and staff shortages.

The Monmouth poll also questioned New Jerseyans about the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and President Joe Biden.

Biden’ approval rating in New Jersey is similar to Murphy’s, with 55 percent approving of the president’s job performance and 39 percent disapproving. The same holds true for Booker, who has a 57 percent positive to 35 percent negative approval rating. Menendez is in positive territory, but substantially lower than Booker, at 46 percent approve to 36 percent disapprove.

The Democrat-controlled state Legislature as a whole gets positive marks, with 47 percent of those questioned approving and 38 percent disapproving.

Monmouth surveyed 706 New Jersey adults between April 29 and May 4. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Read the full poll on Monmouth University’s website.

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