Phil Murphy has a 55%-35% job approval rating as Governor, but most New Jerseyans don’t think he’d make a good President, according to a new Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday.
Approval ratings for Murphy in the Monmouth poll are remarkably different than a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released last month that put the governor’s favorables at an upside-down 33%-38% and job approvals of 49%-46%.
“Murphy got a bit of a scare from voters who took part in last year’s election, but he appears to have recovered a bit as far as all his constituents are concerned,” said the Monmouth University Polling Institute director, Patrick Murray.
Among registered voters, Murphy’s approvals are at 57%-35%.
Gov. Chris Christie had a 51%-41% approval rating at the same point in his second term, with favorables at 40%-35% in an April 2014 Monmouth poll.
“The public does not see Murphy as being as ambitious as Christie was. Some political observers say that isn’t true, but he doesn’t wear those ambitions on his sleeve like his predecessor did,” Murray said. “Of course, Christie was much more of a media magnet, which heightened speculation about him.”
The Monmouth poll puts Murphy’s approvals at 51%-35% among independents, 86%-8% among Democrats and an underwater 17%-77% among Republicans. He is most popular among New Jerseyans of color (66%-2%) and in Central Jersey (60%-35%), while he faces his greatest challengers in South Jersey (48%-40%).
The New Jersey Legislature has a generic approval rating of 44%-39% and is slightly underwater at 38%-42% among independents.
Will Murphy run for President someday?
Most New Jerseyans (37%-55%) don’t think Murphy is planning to seek the Presidency – the governor has asserted that he will not – and
Among Democrats – the group of voters Murphy would care most about should be decide to run – 37% say he definitely or probably will run and 56% say he won’t.
Asked if New Jersey thought Murphy would make a good president, 33% say he would and 56% say he would not. Among New Jersey Democrats, that number is significantly better: 59% said he would and 29% said he would not.
On the question of how Murphy would fare in the White House, Democrats are his only enthusiasts, saying he would by a 59%-29% margin. Nearly two-thirds of independents (63%) said he would not make a good president, along with 88% of Republicans.
But among Murphy’s biggest fans, New Jerseyans of color, his numbers are unimpressive: 48% say he would not make a good president and 39% say he would. He’s upside-down at 29%-61% among white residents and 60% of New Jerseyans with children in their home.
New Jerseyans are split at 45%-45% on whether Murphy is “more concerned with governing” the state or “more concerned about his own political future.”
Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (73%-21%) say he’s focused on governing New Jersey while 47% of independents and 79% of Republicans believe he’s most interested in his own political future.
Those numbers will be worth watching down the road, as Murphy steps up his dual roles as chairman of the National Governors Association and the vice chair and incoming chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
More New Jerseyans (33%) see Murphy as boosting the state’s image nationally, while 24% believe he hurts New Jersey. At the same point in Christie’s second term – during his time as Republican Governors Association chairman and a likely 2016 presidential candidate – 29% said he helped New Jersey’s national image and 33% said he hurt it, according to the Monmouth poll.
Among Democrats in the state – the subset of residents Murphy will watch if he pursues a national agenda – 56% say the governor boosts New Jersey’s image and just 7% said he hurts it.
Murphy’s policy impact
According to the Monmouth poll, 30% of New Jerseyans view Murphy as having major accomplishments during his 50 months as governor, while 42% think his accomplishments have been minor; 25% of the state said that Murphy has had “no real accomplishments” since taking office in January 2018.
The major vs. minor accomplishments number goes to 49%-39% among Democrats but is at 28%-44% with independents and 6%-42% among Republicans.
Almost half of the state (46%) say that Murphy has hurt property tax payers, while just 13% say he has helped them and 29% view the governor as having no impact.
The Helped/Hurt number among independents is 10%-50%; it’s at 23%-26% among Democrats, 5%-71% among Republicans, 11%-51% among white residents, and 17%-39% among New Jerseyans of color.
“Property taxes are a perennial issue in New Jersey politics and they played a role in nearly upending Murphy’s reelection bid. His budget proposal puts an emphasis on this issue,” Murray stated. “We’ll have to see if it pays dividends in the future.”
Asked if Murphy’s policies have “helped, hurt or had no impact on middle class residents,” 27% say he’s helped, 38% say he’s hurt and 27% view him as having no impact. Those trends continue among all economic group, and he’s at 28% helped, 29% hurt and 32% no-impact among Black, Hispanic and Asian New Jerseyans.
But 37% of the state think Murphy’s policies have helped poor residents of New Jersey, while 28% say he has hurt them and 22% believe his governorship has had no impact.
Among New Jerseyans making less than $50,000 annually, 25% say Murphy has helped them but 37% say he hurt them and 22% believe he had no impact.
While 26% say Murphy, who ran on a platform of a “stronger, fairer New Jersey” and passed a millionaire’s tax, helped New Jersey’s wealthiest residents, 23% think he hurt them and 38% said he had no impact.
More than four-in-ten New Jerseyans (38%) say the governor has hurt business, while 29% say he’s helped them and 18% rate him as having no impact.
More residents (30%) say that Murphy has had no impact on transit riders, while 20% view him as helpful and 17% think he’s hurt them.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from March 31 to April 4, 2022 with a sample size of 802 New Jersey adults and a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.