Poll shows reduced trust in Christie
Gov. Chris Christie’s approval ratings have continued to drop after revelations of his alleged misuse of Hurricane Sandy aid.
The Rutgers-Eagleton poll released the results of an 842-person survey that found trust in the governor has continued to decrease, although Christie has managed to maintain his reputation as a strong leader.
Only 23 percent of New Jersey adults said they would call Christie “trustworthy,” compared to 43 percent in October 2013, according to a press release about the poll.
Christie’s original favorability rating peaked after Hurricane Sandy, when the public perceived him as handling the situation well, said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers Eagleton poll.
“The cause of the drop is both the Bridgegate scandal and more recent allegations about how Sandy funding has been distributed,” he said. “There are allegations that his administration may have retaliated against political foes.”
On Feb. 2, NBC reported the administration gave $4.8 million to an apartment building in New Brunswick, which was ranked 188th in terms of storm damage.
The administration also faced controversy for spending $6 million on a Belleville senior apartment complex. Allegations were also made that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno coerced Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer into complying with the governor to receive aid for her town.
Despite the scandals, half the state still supports Christie, Redlawsk said.
According to the poll results, 40 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the governor, and 11 percent had no opinion.
“His favorability rating is reasonably good in a mostly Democratic state,” he said.
The survey results were divided along party lines. Thirty-five percent of Democrats called Christie a leader, compared with 82 percent of Republicans. Meanwhile just 17 percent of Republicans called the governor a “bully” compared to 51 percent of Democrats.
His overall rating as a bully, 37 percent, has fallen from a high of 43 percent.
A plurality of participants described the governor as “arrogant” and said he was somewhat sincere.
Many participants showed skepticism of Christie’s actions concerning Bridgegate. Of registered voters, 37 said it was very unlikely Christie’s advisors acted independently, and only 19 percent said it was very likely Christie had no involvement.
Voters who believed Christie’s advisors acted independently were more likely to call him a leader and less likely to call him a bully. Only 7 percent of respondents who did not believe it considered him trustworthy.
A plurality of voters — 44 percent — said they disbelieved Christie’s explanation of what happened to cause the controversy.
Concerning Hurricane Sandy aid, 45 percent of participants believed the administration withheld funds to certain towns because the mayors would not endorse Christie’s re-election.
The number of respondents that feel worried when they hear about Christie has increased, Redlawsk said, although 36 percent said reading about him made them feel proud and enthusiastic.
The poll focused on New Jersey, but the results could have national implications, he said.
“For people around the country, they’re hearing about these things from New Jersey,” he said. “It’s hard to know how much this will play in the long term, but it’s affected the way he’s perceived in the press and the willingness of Democrats to work with him.”
He said Christie’s originally high favorability rating was strongly related to his actions during Hurricane Sandy, especially among Democrats and independents.
“This is the first time we’ve polled for the Sandy revelations, and we’re seeing this in terms of his presidential race too,” he said. “Once he was leading Hillary Clinton, but in national polls he has dropped significantly.”