Gov. Phil Murphy has a 44%-28% job approval rating, better than predecessors Chris Christie and Jon Corzine around the same point in their first year, according to a Monmouth University poll released today.
Christie was at an upside-down 41%-44% in April 2010 and Corzine was at an upside-down 34%-37% in April 2006.
“Perhaps one reason why Murphy’s overall job rating is so positive is because fewer New Jerseyans are paying attention to this new governor than in the past,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “It’s worth noting that turnout in last year’s election was a record low and Monmouth’s polling found that most voters couldn’t say whether Murphy’s views were in line with the state. It’s not clear how much more they know now.”
Murphy is at 65%-7% among Democrats, which means real voters appear unaware of the behind the scenes feuding with the Senate Democratic majority that has captured the attention of political insiders. He’s at 41%-33% among independents, and as would be expected, at an upside-down 17%-59% among Republicans.
“Governor Murphy is definitely enjoying a honeymoon period, largely because his budget proposal seems to be flying under the radar right now. But many New Jerseyans are skeptical about his promises to strengthen the middle class. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months,” said Murray.
New Jerseyans are less familiar with Murphy’s budget plans than they were with Christie’s or Corzine’s. Just 15% say they have heard a lot about Murphy’s plan, compared to 45% for Christie and 25% for Corzine. That reduces the “outright dissatisfaction with Murphy’s budget: — just 23%, as compared to Christie (39%) and Corzine (30%). But satisfaction with the Murphy plan (9%) is about the same as Corzine (8%), and less for Christie (19%).
The poll shows an evenly divided electorate (40%-39%) on whether Murphy is more concerned about governing or his political future – which is code for speculation that the governor wants to run for president in 2020.
“Speculation about Phil Murphy’s political ambition has circulated since he entered the public arena in New Jersey just over three years ago touting an unabashedly liberal agenda. Opinion on where his heart lies now splits along predictable party lines. But there is still a large number of independents who wonder whether he’s focused more on the state or on the national stage,” said Murray.monmouthpoll_nj_041118