Home>Feature>Murphy has strong 52%-36% approval rating after five years as N.J. governor, poll says

Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his State of the State address before a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on January 10, 2023. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Murphy has strong 52%-36% approval rating after five years as N.J. governor, poll says

Pollster Patrick Murray says two-term Democratic governor ‘seems to be holding course’

By David Wildstein, January 11 2023 11:00 am

Gov. Phil Murphy has a healthy 52%-36% job approval ratings among registered voters at the start of his sixth year as governor of New Jersey, according to a new Monmouth University poll released this morning.

Approvals for the two-term Democratic governor remain relatively steady.  An April 2022 Monmouth poll pegged his approval ratings at 55%-35%

The poll shows Murphy in good political shape as Democrats prepare to defend majorities in both houses of the legislature heading into November’s midterm Senate and Assembly elections under a new map that gives Republicans a path to take control.

“Murphy seems to be holding course,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  “His rating is above water in a state where Democrats have a registration advantage, but he doesn’t seem to have broken through yet with a major legacy item that New Jerseyans point to as a hallmark of his administration.”

Among all New Jerseyans, not just those who are registered to vote, his job approvals are at 53%-35%.

The Monmouth poll puts Murphy’s approvals at 46%-41% among independents, 84%-5% among Democrats, and an upside-down 16%-74% among Republicans.  He is most popular among New Jerseyans of color (66%-19%), women (59%-28%) and Central Jersey residents (58%-32%), while he faces his greatest challengers among men (47%-42%) and people who live in South Jersey (48%-38%).

Asked about what Murphy has done as governor since taking office in January 2018, 29% of New Jerseyans said he has had some major accomplishments, 42% called his accomplishments minor, and 26% viewed the governor as having no real accomplishments so far.     These numbers are consistent with past surveys, the Monmouth poll explained.

Democrats view Murphy’s success through a more positive lens: 48% called his accomplishments major, while 39% said they were minor and just 9% said he has had no accomplishments.

The New Jersey Legislature has approvals of 44%-36%, numbers that have held close to even over the last two years.  The generic ratings for the legislature is down from 54%-27% in April 2020, when Murphy’s approvals during the pandemic shot up to 71%-21% but remains ten points higher that the 33%-42% in September 2019, just before the last legislative midterm election.

In comparison, Republican Gov. Chris Christie had upside-down job approvals of 38%-40% in a February 15 Monmouth poll; his approvals tumbled to an underwater 35%-54% three months later after federal prosecutors announced indictment in the Bridgegate scandal.

A February 1999 Quinnipiac poll had Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman with approvals of 58%-33% after five years in office.  The same poll showed Whitman leading three-term Democrat Frank Lautenberg by nine percentage points, 50%-41%, in a race for the United states Senate.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from January 5-9 with a sample size of 809 New Jersey adults and a margin of error of +/- 4.7%.   The poll was taken before Murphy’s annual State of the State address on January 10, 2023.  North Jersey is defined as Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, Union, Warren, Central is Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset, and South is Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, Salem.

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