(CNN) – Most Americans haven't changed their opinion of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in recent days, according to a new national poll.
But Christie's approval and favorable ratings among Garden State residents has dropped, according to another new survey, which also indicates that most in the state don't consider their tough-talking Republican governor a "bully."
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The two polls were conducted after Christie apologized at a news conference last Thursday for the closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge for four days in September that caused massive traffic jams on the New Jersey side of the nation's busiest bridge.
The events entangled Christie, who's considering a bid for the White House in 2016, in the biggest political controversy of his career.
Christie fired the two senior aides who appear to be connected to the access lane closures, but he denied any knowledge of the apparent actions by some of his top aides, saying "I knew nothing about this," adding that he has "nothing to hide."
Documents released so far in the investigation suggest the Christie aides orchestrated the traffic tie-ups in an alleged case of political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, who declined to endorse the governor as he ran for re-election last year.
Christie's numbers in New Jersey take a hit
According to the Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll, Christie's approval/disapproval rating among New Jerseyans now stands at 59%-32%, down from 65%-25% last month. This is the first time since Superstorm Sandy struck the state in late October 2012 that the governor's approval rating has dipped below 60% in Monmouth polling. The survey indicates GOP support, at 89%, remains strong, but Christie's approval among independents has dropped from 73% in December to 62% now and his approval among Democrats has dropped from 47% in December to 38% now.
While Christie's job approval rating remains quite positive, personal views of the governor have become mixed. Forty-four percent of New Jersey residents have a favorable view of him, down from 70% a year ago. Twenty-eight percent have an unfavorable view of Christie, up from 19% last year, and 28% have no opinion, up from 11% a year ago.
"There is now a gap between the public's view of Christie's job performance and his personal behavior. There has been a shift from largely positive opinion of the man to a situation where some New Jerseyans are not quite sure what to think of him," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Is Christie a bully?
By a 47%-42% margin, Garden Staters see Christie as someone who's more concerned with his own political future than with the state. In Monmouth polls taken over the past year, more residents said that Christie put New Jersey first rather than his own political ambitions.
At last Thursday's news conference, Christie declared that "I am not a bully," in response to questions about his brash and in-your-face style of politics. The new poll indicates most New Jersey residents agree with their governor. Sixty-five percent say they wouldn't describe Christie as a bully, with 32% labeling him a bully.
The Monmouth University survey indicates that Garden State residents are paying attention. Fifty-three percent say they've read or heard a lot about the controversy, with another three in ten saying they've heard a little about it. Just 17% say they've heard or read nothing about the story.
Most Americans say their opinion of Christie hasn't changed
While New Jersey residents are glued to the bridge controversy, a national Pew Research Center poll suggests that Americans are not enthralled with the story and the political turmoil surrounding Christie.
According to the Pew survey, Americans paid more attention to last week's frigid weather than to Christie and the George Washington Bridge controversy. Forty-four percent say they very closely followed the news about the cold weather, with just 18% saying the same thing about events in New Jersey.
The poll also indicates that six in 10 Americans say their opinion of Christie has not changed in recent days, with 16% now viewing him less favorably and six percent seeing him in a more favorable light.
"The survey finds that majorities of Republicans (69%), Democrats (55%) and independents (60%) say that their opinion of Christie has not changed lately," says a release from Pew Research.
The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll was January 10-12, with 541 New Jersey adults questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
The Pew Research Center poll was conducted January 9-12, with 1,006 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.