The way a majority of New Jerseyans see it, Gov. Chris Christie can leave the state or appear on network TV as much as he wants to bolster his image nationally because it isn't hindering his role as governor.
Two-thirds of New Jerseyans have been following the buzz about a potential Christie presidential run, including 26 percent who have heard a lot about this and 41 percent who have heard a little and fully 63 percent of New Jerseyans say national attention over his presidential aspirations has had no impact on his performance as governor, according to a Monmouth University/Gannett poll released Thursday.
Just 17 percent say the national attention has made him less effective as governor, job, while 11 percent say it has actually made him more effective.
"As far as most New Jerseyans are concerned, the talk about Christie's presidential ambitions has been no more than a minor diversion from his duties as governor," Patrick Murray, the poll's director, said.
Speculation about the governor's political future was recently stoked when he took a stand on the national hot-button issue of abortion. In a speech at a Right to Life rally on the Statehouse steps, Christie became the first New Jersey governor to clearly lay out a pro-life position. Few New Jerseyans took notice.
Just 1-in-3 say they heard about the speech, including 6 percent who say they heard a lot and 26 percent who heard a little. Less than half (44 percent) of New Jerseyans are aware that Christie has a "pro-life" position on abortion. Another 16 percent actually think the governor comes down on the "pro-choice" side and 40 percent say they simply don't know where he stands on this issue.
Only 1-in-10 say that Christie's decision to speak at a pro-life rally has any impact on their opinion of him — with 7 percent saying it's made them feel more negatively toward him and 3 percent saying they now have a more positive opinion.
"Most New Jerseyans do not consider abortion a matter for state government," Murray said. "So Chris Christie's public stance is not seen as all that relevant to his performance as governor."
In polls conducted during the 2009 gubernatorial campaign, abortion was named by no more than 2 percent of voters as a key issue driving their decision in that election.
The poll was conducted by telephone with 801 New Jersey adults from Feb. 2 through Monday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM