New Jerseyans are almost split right down the middle over whether they like Gov. Chris Christie and approve of his bully style of government, according to a Quinnpiac University poll made public Tuesday.
Residents' approval of Christie has dropped 6 points since a Nov. 9 poll to 46 to 44 percent job and don't approve of his style of governing by 47 to 48 percent. The governor's latest job approval rating compares to 51 - 38 percent in the November survey.
Christie's approval is 74 to 21 percent among Republicans and 48 to 41 percent among independent voters, while Democrats disapprove 65 to 22 percent.
The governor's attempt to change a "historically liberal state Supreme Court" is a bad idea, voters say 45 to 39 percent. Support for the governor on the issue is 71 to 19 percent among Republicans while independent voters split 43 to 41 percent. Democrats oppose the move 71 to 13 percent.
New Jerseyans' opinion of the state Senate's failure to act on a Christie Supreme Court nominee is: 37 percent say the Senate is protecting an independent judiciary while 32 percent call it foot-dragging.
"Overall, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie still gets a split decision, Maurice Carroll, poll director, said. "Democrats don't like him at all; Republicans like him a lot. His ‘Jersey-guy' in-your-face governing style? An even split.
"The governor's big mid-year scrap against the state Supreme Court was revived when one of the seven judges called the court's current shape unconstitutional," Carroll said. "Public opinion is running against Gov. Christie on this issue and his overall approval rating has eroded a bit."
New Jerseyans give Christie a slightly negative 45 to 49 percent on his handling of education. But 63 percent say his attempt to limit salaries for school superintendents is a "good way to help balance the budget," while 31 percent call it "meddling in local government."
By a similar 61 to 34 percent margin, New Jerseyans support limiting wage increases to 2 percent for police and firefighters.
Most politicians act based on what's popular rather than on principle, New Jerseyans say 78 to 13 percent. But they say 64 to 29 percent, including 47 to 43 percent among Democrats, that Christie acts on principal, rather than what's popular.
"Christie started the year fighting with the educational establishment and he ended it the same way — this time with school superintendents as the target," Carroll said. "The public seems to be with him, saying 2-1 that he should cut superintendents' pay."
New Jerseyans agree 46 to 38 percent with Christie's decision to cancel a cross-Hudson rail tunnel, down from 53 to 37 percent in a Nov. 10 Quinnipiac poll.
But voters say 64 to 17 percent that a New York City plan to extend the No. 7 subway line under the Hudson River to the NJ Transit station in Secaucus is a good idea. Support is 60 to 19 percent among Republicans, 67 to 17 percent among Democrats and 64 to 18 percent among independent voters. New Jersey should contribute financially to building the tunnel, residents say 63 to 27 percent.
New Jerseyans oppose 49 to 40 percent spending $1 billion on the new rail tunnel idea. Democrats back the $1 billion cost 49to 40 percent, while opposition is 54 to 35 percent among Republicans and 53 to 36 percent among independent voters. Among the 11 percent of New Jersey voters who commute to New York City, support is 59 to 30 percent.
"Killing the first rail tunnel plan was okay and the alternative, an extension of a New York subway to Secaucus, is a pretty good idea, voters say," Carroll said. "New Jersey voters even say they're willing to pay for the new tunnel idea — until we put a billion-dollar price tag on it."
From Dec. 14 to Sunday, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,276 New Jersey voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM