Six months before voters decide if they want to keep him for another four years, Gov. Phil Murphy has job approvals of 57%-35% among adult New Jersey residents, according to a Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday.
Murphy’s numbers are down from April 2020, when his approvals skyrocketed to 71%-21% during the first month of the coronavirus pandemic. Pundits and strategists from both parties said at the time that a drop back to earth was inevitable.
But Murphy still hasn’t closed his deal for re-election in a heavily blue state that hasn’t re-elected a Democratic governor in 44 years.
Slightly less than half of New Jerseyans polled (48%) say that he should be re-elected, while 43% said he should not.
“Murphy has a pretty strong job rating going into his reelection bid,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “However, New Jersey voters are a fickle lot and a good number will sit on the fence until we get closer to the fall campaign in case things go south for the state.”
Murray noted that in 2013, then-Gov. Chris Christie had approvals that were higher than his re-elect numbers.
Twelve years ago, when Christie ousted Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, a May 2009 Quinnipiac University poll had Corzine’s job approval at an upside-down 38%-53%. In a head-to-head poll — Monmouth hasn’t done that yet — Christie led Corzine by seven points, 45%-38%. Christie won that race by a 48.5%-44.9% margin, a plurality of 43,139 votes.
One out of five New Jersey Republicans – 21% — give Murphy a positive job approval, and 15% of Republicans think he should be re-elected.
Democrats approve of Murphy’s job performance by an 88%-6% margin. He’ll get 100% in the Democratic primary next month, since he’s running unopposed.
Independents approve of Murphy’s job as governor by a 48%-44% margin.
The governor’s approvals are statistically identical among registered voters, 57%-36%. The Monmouth poll did not narrow it’s sample to likely voters.
Murphy is at 64%-29% in North Jersey, 53%-37% in Central Jersey, and 48%-43% in South Jersey. He’s just slightly upside-down among White adults (45%-47%) but has a 75%-18% job approval rating among Black, Hispanic and Asian residents of the state.
Among women, Murphy has approvals of 65%-25%; he’s at 48%-45% among men.
By a 49%-43% margin, New Jerseyans said Murphy is more concerned with governing the state than his own political future.
More than one-third of adults polled (34%) said Murphy has had major accomplishments during his first term as governor, and another 37% viewed is achievements as minor. Just a little more than a quarter of the state (27%) said the governor had no real accomplishments.
The best news for Murphy’s likely Republican opponent, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, comes from a question on property taxes and the governor’s impact on businesses in the Garden State.
Asked if Murphy’s policies have helped or hurt people who pay property taxes, just 14% say he’s helped then and 46% believe he’s hurt them. Among independents, the number of adults who think Murphy has hurt them jumps to 52%.
“New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property tax burden is a perennial thorn for state officeholders,” said Murray. “It could pose a problem for Murphy if it becomes a high priority issue for voters in the fall campaign. As things stand right now, though, it isn’t.”
A full 46% of New Jersey adults say Murphy’s policies have hurt businesses, while just 28% say he’s helped them.
And 36% of the state say Murphy, who has framed his agenda as “stronger and fairer,” has actually hurt the middle class with his policies. 31% say he’s helped the middle class, and 25% view him as having no impact.
“A lot of New Jerseyans feel like they’ve already been bitten by a governor who cruised to reelection during a time of crisis,” Murray stated. “I think that probably dampens some voters’ enthusiasm about giving Murphy a second term.”
That number who says he’s hurt the middle class climbs to 44% among New Jersey residents who have children living at home, and to 47% among white adults.
Murphy’s numbers on his policies to benefit poor New Jerseyans: 43% says he’s helped them and 22% view him as hurting them. He’s at 41% helped and 19% hurt among adults who reported incomes of less than $50,000 annually, but he’s at 47%-12% among adults of color.
Despite approval of an increased income tax on millionaires, 21% of the state say Murphy has helped wealthy New Jersey and 21% say he’s hurt them.
Five weeks ago, a Stockton University poll put Murphy’s approvals at 58%-36%.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from April 29 to May 4 with a sample size of 706 adults and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7%.MonmouthPoll_NJ_050521_Redacted