Twenty-eight years after leaving office, Republican Tom Kean remains the most popular New Jersey governor with a 45%-12% favorable rating, according to a Monmouth University poll of New Jersey residents.
State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Roseland), who served as governor from 2004 to 2006, is the most popular living Democratic governor; his approvals are 25%-13%.
“If I’m popular, I want a recount,” Codey told the New Jersey Globe. “So do my sons.”
Chris Christie, who left office less than four months ago, remains New Jersey’s least unpopular governor. His approvals are upside-down at 22%-71%. He’s even upside-down among Republicans, 43%-48%.
“Christie is more solidly installed in last place than Kean is in first place. This marks a colossal fall from Christie’s third place showing when he premiered on this list eight years ago. It also offers a sobering warning to Phil Murphy who is sitting in the same spot right now,” said Murray, said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Another interesting point is that Christie is – by far – the governor who most New Jerseyans are ready to express an opinion on. This is probably fitting considering how readily he went off on his own constituents when he was in office.”
Brendan Byrne, who passed away in January, still has favorable of 28%-10%. He served as governor from 1974 to 1982 and was once so unpopular that he won just 30% of the vote in the Democratic primary when he ran for re-election.
“Nearly 30 years after he left office, Tom Kean and New Jersey are still perfect together,” said Murray, “Sadly, we lost Brendan Byrne early this year, but he is remembered like his successor, as someone admired by New Jerseyans across the entire political spectrum.”
Way down at the bottom of the leader board is Chris Christie (R; 2010-18) with a sizable net negative -49 rating of 22% favorable and 71% unfavorable with 7% having no opinion. He earns net negative ratings from Democrats (9% favorable and 86% unfavorable), independents (21% favorable and 70% unfavorable), and even Republicans (43% favorable and 48% unfavorable). Early in his term in 2010, Christie enjoyed a rosier +14 rating (31% favorable and 17% unfavorable).
Five other former governors have not yet experienced the post-gubernatorial popularity of Byrne: Jim Florio (26%-29%); Christine Todd Whitman (35%-35%); Donald DiFrancesco (9%-13%); Jim McGreevey (29%-34%), and Jon Corzine (45%-41%).
Gov. Phil Murphy is at 42%-26%.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 6-10, 2018 with 703 New Jersey adults. The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points for the full sample.