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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy approvals about the same as four months ago, poll says

Governor largely unaffected by criticism in New Jersey’s daily newspapers

By David Wildstein, February 24 2020 5:00 am

Gov. Phil Murphy has a 42%-36% approval rating, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released this morning.

Murphy’s approvals remain relatively unchanged from his 45%-37% approval rating in October 2019, despite an onslaught of daily newspaper stories on allegations of toxic workplace environments in his 2017 gubernatorial campaign.  He was at 42%-32% in May 2019.

Those numbers appear to indicate that daily newspapers have not impacted Murphy’s approvals one way or the other.

The poll surveys adults, which is a less significant sample than likely voters and registered voters.

Murphy is at 59%-16% among Democrats, but is upside-down among independents (31%-37%) and unsurprisingly, among Republicans (22%-68%).   Those numbers are based on self-identified party affiliation, including leaners.

“His numbers among Democrats don’t invite a primary challenge,” said Krista Jenkins, the poll’s director and a professor of politics and government at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  “But they do suggest that the governor has work to do among his own party’s rank and file as he plans for re-election.”

The poll shows Murphy’s best approvals come from North Jersey, where he is at 43%-30%.  He’s at 41%-40% in Central Jersey – which is apparently now a real thing – and 41%-40% in South Jersey, where he has faced significant opposition from leaders of his own party.

Murphy is at 43%-24% among non-white adults and a 41%-44% among white adults.  He’s at 42%-39% among men and 41%-33% among women.

The governor does best among younger New Jerseyans, with approvals of 39%-24% in the ages 18-34 age group, 41%-34% among adults between ages 35-54, and 44%-46% of those over age 55.

“For many, the jury is still out on the governor, even though he’s now well into the second half of his administration,” Jenkins said  “But for the remainder, the glass is half empty rather than full, as the state’s perennial issues are believed to have worsened under his watch.”

Potentially problematic for Murphy is the view of New Jerseyans on transportation issues.

Just 19% believe roads, bridges, trains and tunnels have gotten better under Murphy, while 28% say transit issues have become worse on the governor’s watch.  Nearly half the state (46%) think things have remained the same.

New Jersey adults are relatively split, 42%-41%, on whether the state is going in the right or wrong direction.  That number is down slightly from 47%-42% in October.

Just 10% of adults say Murphy has had major accomplishments as governor, with 29% viewing his accomplishment as minor.  One-third of the state (33%) say he’s had no real accomplishments.

“Although the governor is keen on pointing out the number of bills he has signed into law; the fact remains that many of his constituents cannot identify his accomplishments,” Jenkins said.  “New Jersey is a tough crowd. These numbers suggest more is needed in the messaging department.”

One-quarter of New Jerseyans (25%) say the state’s economy has gotten better since Murphy became governor in January 2018, with 28% saying it has gotten worse.  Four out of ten adults (40%) think the economy has remained about the same as it was when he took office.

“Clearly the minimum wage increase has resonated with the public and making good on a campaign promise to get people more money is a big deal. However, based on these numbers, it looks like the message remains undelivered for many,” said Jenkins.

Murphy does worse on the issue of taxes and spending.  Only 12% say the governor has done better, while 44% think things are worse and 36% believe it’s all the same.

Even with Chris Christie — the state’s most unpopular governor since William Franklin sided with King George – out of office for more than two years, just 16% of New Jerseyans say the state’s reputation has improved under Murphy.  One-third (33%) view the state’s reputation as worse since Murphy became governor, and 41% think there has been no change.

Still, 39% of adults would encourage people to move to New Jersey, while 44% would discourage them.

The poll was conducted between February 12-16 and has a margin of error of +/-4%.

FDU poll Murphy approvals Feb 2020
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