Gov. Phil Murphy has a 68%-30% job approval rating in a poll conducted by a New Direction New Jersey, a non-profit group formed by some of his outside advisors to advocate for the governor’s political agenda.
The poll shows Murphy has made tremendous gains with New Jersey voters as the state battles the spread of the deadly coronavirus, with the first-term governor showing considerable popularity among most voter groups, and a 37% approval rating among Republicans.
New Direction New Jersey provided a briefing of their poll, obtained and reviewed by the New Jersey Globe, to donors and supporters today. Murphy was on that call.
Murphy’s approvals are up 14 points from a November 2019 poll conducted by the same group.
The governor received a 71%-27% approval rating for his handling of COVID-19 issues, including a 51%-49% rating from Republicans.
His favorables are at 62%-32%, and 61% of the state views Murphy as straightforward and honest about the challenges New Jersey faces.
More than nine out of ten Democrats (93%) approve of Murphy’s overall job performance, as do 69% of independents – up from 43% in August 2019 and 48% in November 2019.
Murphy has seen double-digit increases in his approvals among independents (up 21 point to 69% ), Republicans (up 17 points to 37%), Men (up 13 points to 54%), women (up 16 points to 72%), and White voters (up 16 points to 62%). Among Black voters, Murphy is at 91% approvals, up from 89% in November.
His approvals are similar in all three parts of the state: 73% in North Jersey, and 65% in Central Jersey and South Jersey.
On his handling on the coronavirus pandemic, Murphy is at 74%-26% in North jersey, 73%-26% in Central Jersey, and 66%-32% in South Jersey.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker has favorables of 53%-36%, up seven points from the November poll, while Senate President Steve Sweeney (24%-32%) remains the same as he was eight months earlier.
President Donald Trump has upside-down favorables of 37%-61% in New Jersey, while former Gov. Chris Christie remains New Jersey’s most unpopular politician with favorables of 31%-65%.
Among Murphy’s highest increases came on the question of whether he’s a strong leader: 56% say he is, up 17 points form August 2019. More than half of New Jersey voters (55%) say he “does what’s right, not just what’s politically easy” (up 16 points from nearly a year ago) and 58% say Murphy “puts the needs of New Jersey families ahead of wealthy special interests (up 16 points from last year).
Still, less than half of the state (48%) believe Murphy “knows how to create jobs and get the economy moving,” and 53% of voters view him as just “a typical New Jersey politician.”
On civil right-related issues, Murphy has approval ratings of 68%-25%.
The Black Lives Matter movement in New Jersey is supported by 69% of voters, the poll says, while 28% oppose it. Nearly two-thirds of the state (66%) approved of Murphy’s participation in Black Lives Matter protests, while 33% disapprove. Those numbers go down just slightly, to 59%-38%, when asked if the still approve of Murphy’s involvement knowing that the governor was “in violation of his own social distancing guidelines.”
Murphy has a 64%-34% approval rating on his handling of the state economy, and 52%-31% on his leadership on New Jersey Transit issues.
The New Direction New Jersey poll scores support for restoring the millionaire’s tax at 79%-21%, with voters supporting a corporate tax increase by a 70%-29% margin.
Voters are split on raising the state sales tax from 6 5/8% to 7% (48% support, 52% oppose), and on a reduction of the state’s contribution to employee pensions (46% support, 54% oppose).
According to the poll, there is strong opposition to reducing local school funding (30% support, 69% oppose) and cutting funding for New Jersey Transit (35% support, 64% oppose).
More than half (53%) says that Murphy “is making New Jersey stronger and fairer for everyone” – up 13 points from August 2019.
New Jerseyans directly affected by COVID-19 give Murphy high marks.
The governor’s approvals are at 67%-32% among voters where someone in their household has lost their job as a result of the coronavirus, 71%-27% among those where a household member has lost income, 72%-26% among New Jerseyans who know someone who tested positive, and 78%-20% among those who know someone who died as a result of COVID-19.
The poll shows that New Jersey voters appear to understand that the coronavirus is still not under control.
Nearly two-thirds of New Jerseyans (64%) say the support attempts to control the spread of COVID-19, even if that hurts the state’s economy, while 34% favor restarting the economy despite the possibility that it would hamper efforts to control the spread of the virus.
That number is at 71%-26% among independents, and 63%-34% among households where someone has lost their job as a result of COVID-19.
The poll shows that 66% of the state trusts Murphy to decide when it’s safe to gather in groups, 64% trust him to decide the safest time to reopen businesses, and 64% say they trust him to “strike the right balance between heath and economic risks. More than six out of ten voters (62%) trust Murphy to decide how to start the school year.
The poll was conducted by Bully Pulpit Interactive, a top Democratic public opinion firm run by Murphy’s pollster, Danny Franklin, with 807 gubernatorial election voters interviewed from June 20-24. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.
New Direction New Jersey is run by Murphy advisors Brendan Gill, Steve DeMicco and Brad Lawrence.