UNION TOWNSHIP – Governor Chris Christie enters this year’s gubernatorial election with an eye-popping approval rating of 78 percent, according to a new Kean University / NJ Speaks poll conducted in early January.
The NJ Speaks survey of 1,000 likely voters found that 40 percent strongly approved of the Governor’s performance, and 38 percent said they somewhat approved. Only 20 percent said they disapproved. Eighty-nine percent of Republican respondents said they approved of the Governor’s performance, and remarkably, 70 percent of Democratic respondents also approved of Christie.
“The governor is approaching rock star status,” said Dr. Terry Golway, director of the Kean University Center for History, Politics, and Policy. “Bruce Springsteen may start showing up at his town hall meetings.”
The survey showed Christie easily defeating three potential opponents in this year’s gubernatorial election, state Senator Richard Codey, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and state Senator Barbara Buono. Codey, a former governor, emerged as the strongest candidate of the three: In a head-to-head matchup, Christie defeated Codey, 53 percent to 28 percent. Christie’s margin was larger when matched against the other two Democrats. He outpolled Sweeney 58 percent to 19 percent, and Buono, 55 percent to 22 percent.
As gun control emerges as one of the most-important issues of 2013, 71 percent of respondents said they supported new efforts to ban assault weapons, and 56 percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
On the controversial issue of placing armed guards inside schools, a policy which has been adopted in Marlboro, Monmouth County, and Totowa, Passaic County, opinions were mixed. A plurality, 34 percent, said schools would be safer if there were armed guards inside schools. Twenty-seven percent said armed guards would make schools less safe, and 29 percent said it would make no difference.
On other issues:
- Fifty-six percent of respondents said that President Obama best represented their economic interests during the fiscal cliff negotiations with Congress. Twenty percent said House Speaker John Boehner represented their interests.
- Fifty-eight percent blamed Republicans in Congress for delays in obtaining federal assistance for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
- Twenty-eight percent said they were more likely to visit the Jersey Shore this year in the wake of Sandy. Twenty-three percent said they were less likely, and 43 percent said the storm made no difference.
- Forty-five percent of respondents said that recent storms were due to climate change. Twenty-six percent said the storms were not related to climate change, and 29 percent said they were not sure.
- Sixty-six percent of respondents approved of President Obama’s job performance.
The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 3.0% percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
Click here to view the complete poll results and survey methodology.