UNION TOWNSHIP – Newark Mayor Cory Booker commands a huge lead in the race for the Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination, while Governor Chris Christie continues to pile up impressive approval ratings, according to the latest NJ Speaks / Kean University poll.
The poll, which surveyed 1,000 likely voters and was conducted on June 18, also found that a plurality of voters agree with Christie’s decision to hold a special election for the U.S. Senate in October, ahead of November’s general election.
Of 366 self-identified Democrats surveyed in the poll, 49 percent said they would support Booker if the primary were held today. Booker’s three main rivals trailed far behind: U.S. Representative Rush Holt and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver garnered 9 percent each, while Representative Frank Pallone Jr. won the support of 6 percent. Five percent said they preferred some other candidate, while 22 percent said they were not sure.
Seventy percent of all respondents said they approved of Christie’s performance. That figure, while high, is slightly lower than a NJ Speaks / Kean University poll taken in January, just two months after Superstorm Sandy. That poll put Christie’s approval rating at 78 percent.
“No political figure can maintain an approval rating of nearly 80 percent,” said Dr. Terry Golway, director of the Kean University Center for History, Politics, and Policy. “What’s astounding about Governor Christie is that he continues to enjoy record-high approval ratings across the board. These figures are the stuff of political fantasies, and yet they are reality for Chris Christie.”
Approval ratings do not necessarily translated into electoral support. In a head-to-head matchup with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, Christie had the support of 58 percent of respondents, compared with 28 percent for the Democrat.
“Fifty-eight percent isn’t 70 percent,” said Dr. Golway, “but it’s still pretty darn good.”
Republicans around the state are hoping that the Governor’s popularity will translate into big gains for Republican candidates for Assembly and Senate. The Kean poll discovered, however, that 46 percent of respondents said that the Governor’s endorsement of a legislative candidate would have no impact on their vote. Thirty percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate with Christie’s approval, while 22 percent said Christie’s endorsement would make it less likely they would vote for a legislative candidate.
Fifty-four percent of respondents said they were following the legislative campaigns closely or very closely.
On national issues, 41 percent of respondents said the actions of Edward Snowden, who leaked information about a government surveillance program, were wrong. Thirty-nine percent said it was too early to tell, while 16 percent admired what he did.
Forty percent of respondents said that the U.S. government has maintained a proper balance between privacy and security. But 36 percent said that government has gone too far, while 15 percent believe that government has not gone far enough.
To view the poll results in their entirety along with survey methodology click here.