Poll: Most in New Jersey believe Christie, but half say controversy could impact 2016
January 15th, 2014
09:56 AM ET
3 months ago

Poll: Most in New Jersey believe Christie, but half say controversy could impact 2016

(CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he had no knowledge or involvement in the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, and according to a new poll, most Garden State voters believe him.

A new Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday also indicates that a majority describe Christie as a "leader" rather than a "bully".  And while the Republican governor, who's seriously considering a 2016 run for the White House, gets positive marks on his personal characteristics, his approval rating among New Jersey voters has slipped, and half of them say the bridge controversy has hurt his potential presidential bid.

The poll was conducted entirely after Christie apologized at a news conference Thursday for the closure of access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge for four days in September, which caused massive traffic jams on the New Jersey side of the bridge and entangled the governor in the biggest political controversy of his career.

Christie fired the two senior aides who appear to be connected to the access lane closures. Documents released so far in an investigation into the scandal 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.

Did Christie know?

"I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here," Christie said last week.

The poll indicates that 93% of New Jersey voters have heard or read about the controversy, and of those, two-thirds say the governor didn't personally order the traffic jams. Even a majority of Democrats (53%-32%) agree.

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. According to the survey, New Jersey voters agree, with four in 10 labeling him a "bully" and 54% describing him as a "leader." Those results are similar to a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll of Garden State residents also conducted in the past few days. Only 32% in that poll described Christie as a "bully."

New Jersey voters questioned in the Quinnipiac survey give Christie positive marks on key personal characteristics. By a 51%-41% margin, they say he's honest and trustworthy; nearly three-quarters say he's a strong header; and by a 55%-41% margin they say he cares about their needs and problems. But the Monmouth poll indicated that the governor's favorable rating has dropped from 70% a year ago to 44% now.

Approval rating edges down

Christie's approval rating stands at 55% in the Quinnipiac poll, a drop of 13 percentage points from last summer, with his disapproval now at 38%, up 12 points. According to the Monmouth University survey, 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 and Quinnipiac polling.

"New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is doing better with the public than with the news media.   His job approval has dropped from the stratosphere, but it's still double-digit positive, pretty much where he was before his Superstorm Sandy hug with President Barack Obama," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Will the controversy impact 2016?

According to the Quinnipiac poll, nearly half of New Jersey voters think the controversy could hurt Christie's likely White House bid. Seven percent of those questioned say it ends Christie's chances, with 49% saying it damages his chances. Just two percent feel the controversy helps Christie's presidential ambitions, with nearly four in 10 saying it will have no impact.

"Christie for President?  This scandal hurts his chances, both Democrats and Republicans think. But – maybe it's pride in having their governor tops on the list – many New Jerseyans think he's still up there," adds Carroll.

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 conducted in the past few days 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 Quinnipiac University poll was conducted January 10-13, with 1,207 registered voters in New Jersey questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 2.8 points.

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.


Filed under: 2016 • Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    I believe Christie has lost ALL credibility. He flat out lied last week when he said he had not spoken to HIS head guy at Port Authority in ages when he's clearly photo'd with the guy on 9/11/13. Every statement that Christie makes needs to be under heavy scrutiny.

    January 15, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    I love it when the media is so enthralled with their own talking points that they lose vision of what constitutes reporting. So, rather than sit back and wait to see what those whom he fired have to say, we're going to argue "what the people think" versus "what actually happened".

    Well, OK.

    I dare the GOP, the RNC, and all of GOPerville's voters to nominate Chris Christie as their candidate for President of the United States. Indeed. I double dare ...

    January 15, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    The fine citizens of New Jersey deserve better than a bully like Gov Christie...too bad they just don't realize it.

    January 15, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Stupid people's actions, can do a lot of harm to a politician, even when they think they can get away with something.

    Ultimately, Christie now has to examine how he vets people, in his inner circle. That obviously needs some work.

    January 15, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. enuff

    How many repubs are enjoying this, because they were afraid Christie just might be their presidential nominee?

    January 15, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. tom l

    So, let me guess. The hardcore liberals on here will complain about the poll or something about how people in NJ don't know what they're talking about and that we should wait until we find out everything.

    Fact is that Christie has been more than open about everything and offered anything that investigators have asked for. These polls seem to show that the hardcore liberals on here are truly out of step with what mainstream Americans think and are so bitterly partisan that it might be time for a little self reflection.

    January 15, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. rs

    Interesting data. However if you believe Mr. Christie, it means you also have to believe he had no idea what was happening in his administration beyond the desk of his 3rd in command, i.e. about 20 feet beyond his own desk. There may not be any evidence to tie him to this event (or other seeming acts of retaliation), but that alone weakens the perception that he ever was a "hands-on" governor, or even had a good grasp of what his hand-picked staff was up to. Either way, he is damaged goods short of his (former) staff testifying to his innocence, and a cover-up.

    January 15, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. Sniffit

    This is not evidence.

    That being said, it's good too see that, at least when it's a white Republican man, people still believe in "innocent until proven guilty".

    IOKIYAR

    January 15, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. enuff

    As a second thought, how many repubs assisted in this to make SURE Christie would not be a choice as a presidential candidate?

    January 15, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Stupid people's actions, can do a lot of harm to a politician, even when they think they can get away with something.

    Ultimately, Christie now has to examine how he vets people, in his inner circle. That obviously needs some work
    -------------------------------------------------
    Interesting and atypically empathetic post coming from you Rick. Of course it is in defense of a Repub. But nonetheless.
    I must ask you Rick why would you say that "they thought they could get away with it". Why would they think that Rick?
    Christie does indeed need to "vet" his "inner circle".
    I do not think that bringing in the folks that he went to high school with, who have known him since childhood, and who purportedly would know what he likes and dislikes, and what he would find acceptable and what he wouldn't, I don't think that's working out for him too well these days Rick.

    January 15, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "The hardcore liberals on here will complain about the poll or something about how people in NJ don't know what they're talking about and that we should wait until we find out everything. "

    Ummm no. Liberals understand that there has yet to be any evidence to prove Christie has knowledge, so believing him for the time being is perfectly reasonable....but that these poll results will rapidly show that only GOPers/Teatrolls still believe him if/when any such evidence surfaces. Moreover, hardcore liberals will recognize that this poll has absolutely nothing to do with anything in terms of determining the reality of what actually happened and merely reflects the perception of a public that's not really paying quite as much attention to this as it does when GOPers/Teatrolls make unsupported accusations against the POTUS.

    January 15, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. S.B. Stein

    Well, I'll tell you this; I live and work in NJ. No one called me about a survey. The governor is a bully clear and simple. He hasn't let his days as a prosecutor go and learned to be an administrator like a governor should. Those that think he is a moderate haven't been paying attention. He refuses to consider any kind of tax increase which is needed; gas and this is coming from someone who drives alot, income taxes to support the poor and to pay the pension obligation which few governors do anything about (only Corzine did anything and that was too small). Christie's attitude is not appropriate for the presidency because he is crudely blunt. There are ways of telling the truth, but he does it in a hurtful way. He tells people what he thinks of them in a harsh way when it need not be done that way.

    January 15, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. tom l

    @rs
    "Interesting data. However if you believe Mr. Christie, it means you also have to believe he had no idea what was happening in his administration beyond the desk of his 3rd in command, i.e. about 20 feet beyond his own desk. There may not be any evidence to tie him to this event (or other seeming acts of retaliation), but that alone weakens the perception that he ever was a "hands-on" governor, or even had a good grasp of what his hand-picked staff was up to. Either way, he is damaged goods short of his (former) staff testifying to his innocence, and a cover-up."

    ====

    I think the perception was that he's a hands-on governor but I think you're confusing that with micro-management. He had trust in his people and let them do their jobs without much interference. Is he guilty of poor judgment and does that reflect negatively on him? Absolutely. But, so far, he does not appear to have had anything to do with this and since he has zero history of anything like this he deserves the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know what was going on. He definitely needs some self-reflection in terms of trusting his people too much and perhaps should have looked into the traffic jam further. He clearly is not perfect and needs to improve on that but he certainly doesn't appear to be guilty of directing anything nefarious in this case.

    January 15, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. rs

    tom l

    So, let me guess. The hardcore liberals on here will complain about the poll or something about how people in NJ don't know what they're talking about and that we should wait until we find out everything.

    Fact is that Christie has been more than open about everything and offered anything that investigators have asked for. These polls seem to show that the hardcore liberals on here are truly out of step with what mainstream Americans think and are so bitterly partisan that it might be time for a little self reflection.
    ______________________
    Really, Tom? So Mr. Christie or his staff were right to impose a 4-day long traffic jam on a town for purely cheap political reasons? Something that is completely illegal? Who is out of step with reality?
    There are just two choices here:
    1. This was Christie's doing (kinda hard to believe given he was once a federal prosecutor, and this was a remarkably stupid and petty move), or
    2. He was so inept and disconnected from the goings on in his state that his staff thought these actions were both necessary and appropriate, and Christie is so un-curious that he failed to ask his staff why they would perform such an act.

    You gotta admit, niether is very flattering to Mr. Christie. As to the polling data, it is just about what I expect, we live in a a more or less 50% vs. 50% polictical landscape, and Christie is popular. Don't forget however, he is in the process of putting his second in command in charge of the investigation- he is still a very political animal- and he plays the game well.

    Meanwhile, one point you have right, the process is not complete until folks testify, and charges are or are not filed. Shutting down an interstate is a pretty serious crime- as is causing an apparent death. There are lawsuits in the wings as well. This one has a long way to go before it closes and it would seem prudent to not declare Christie's innocence or guilt, or the status of his career just yet.

    January 15, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    So, let me guess. The hardcore liberals on here will complain about the poll or something about how people in NJ don't know what they're talking about and that we should wait until we find out everything.

    Fact is that Christie has been more than open about everything and offered anything that investigators have asked for
    -------------------------
    Once again, you are wrong. It's wrong, but it's human nature to judge other people's action by what you might do in the other person's place. It's wrong to judge a book by its' cover, most especially when you've drawn up the cover. People have little choice but to believe Christie, which I don't have a problem with. Believing him means that he's utterly imcompetent as a leader of people.

    Finally, that fact is that Christie has been more than shameless in playing the victim card. "I am humiliated." "I was lied to." "I am embarassed." Christie has apologized profusely for the actions of his staff, but somehow managed to do so without actually saying the word "sorry." The fact is that Christie has not been "open" about anything. He has not shared any facts beyond what is in the emails, and investigators have YET TO ASK Gov. Christie for anything.

    January 15, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. Gurgyl

    This man is sounding like a bully. I don't know how he got elected in the first place. GOP thugs are crazy.

    January 15, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Bigdoglv

    If the people of NJ still believe him I guess CNN and the rest of the media better step it up.

    January 15, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. rs

    tom l

    @rs
    "Interesting data. However if you believe Mr. Christie, it means you also have to believe he had no idea what was happening in his administration beyond the desk of his 3rd in command, i.e. about 20 feet beyond his own desk. There may not be any evidence to tie him to this event (or other seeming acts of retaliation), but that alone weakens the perception that he ever was a "hands-on" governor, or even had a good grasp of what his hand-picked staff was up to. Either way, he is damaged goods short of his (former) staff testifying to his innocence, and a cover-up."

    ====

    I think the perception was that he's a hands-on governor but I think you're confusing that with micro-management. He had trust in his people and let them do their jobs without much interference. Is he guilty of poor judgment and does that reflect negatively on him? Absolutely. But, so far, he does not appear to have had anything to do with this and since he has zero history of anything like this he deserves the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know what was going on. He definitely needs some self-reflection in terms of trusting his people too much and perhaps should have looked into the traffic jam further. He clearly is not perfect and needs to improve on that but he certainly doesn't appear to be guilty of directing anything nefarious in this case.
    ___________________
    As they say, this one is far from over. Mr. Christie's reputation is what it is, and his style seems pretty well established. It would seem to be an absolutely foolish endeavor for him to have been involved with, and it simply makes him look bad that he was powerless to reign such retribution in before it happened.
    We shall see. I am sure we'll be able to compare notes when the GOP trots out some othe made-up controversy about our President.

    January 15, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. tom l

    "The hardcore liberals on here will complain about the poll or something about how people in NJ don't know what they're talking about and that we should wait until we find out everything. "

    Ummm no. Liberals understand that there has yet to be any evidence to prove Christie has knowledge, so believing him for the time being is perfectly reasonable....but that these poll results will rapidly show that only GOPers/Teatrolls still believe him if/when any such evidence surfaces. Moreover, hardcore liberals will recognize that this poll has absolutely nothing to do with anything in terms of determining the reality of what actually happened and merely reflects the perception of a public that's not really paying quite as much attention to this as it does when GOPers/Teatrolls make unsupported accusations against the POTUS.

    ====

    I respectfully disagree with you. All of the hardcore liberals on here have absolutely convicted Christie as being guilty without proof or evidence so far that he coordinated this or had knowledge of it. Your position is more representative of your political leanings more than anything else. It is clear. You accept all of Obama's excuses for everything that he didn't know such as the website issues, the IYLYPYCKI, the IRS, Benghazi...every one of these issues you dismiss as nothing and accept his lack of knowledge. Yet, here you have a man with no history of anything like that and you certainly believe he is guilty.

    And I must say that of course I'm a bit biased with Christie. I don't have the same disdain for him that I do for most politicians. He's not a crazy repub. He's not fanatical about social issues and appears to be conservative on fiscal issues. That being said, you don't like the guy. You think he's a bad guy so you're more apt to not believe him. But the poll shows that most people, both dem and repub, believe and trust him.

    January 15, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    "I think the perception was that he's a hands-on governor but I think you're confusing that with micro-management. He had trust in his people and let them do their jobs without much interference. ... ..."
    -------------------------
    You are dead wrong, once again. Christie has a reputation for being a hands-on micro-manager. Mayors all across the state have reported recieving unexpected phone calls from the Governor concerning issues facing their cities or towns.

    There's one thing that doesn't add up, though. I'm pretty sure that the Mayor of Ft. Lee has said that he was surprised to hear that the shutdown was a result of him not supporting Christe because no one from the Christie campaign has asked him for any support. Perhaps the shutdown less retribution for not supporting Christie, but actually retribution for something else. There have been a few alternative rationales that have been postulated in the local media.

    January 15, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "He has not shared any facts beyond what is in the emails"

    Which were, to be fair, very heavily redacted.

    January 15, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    he does not appear to have had anything to do with this and since he has zero history of anything like this he deserves the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know what was going on
    -------------------------------------------------
    Except that that is not quite true.
    There's that OTHER instance in regards to the newly elected mayor of Jersey city, Fulop, who did not endorse Christie's re-election and found every single meeting previously scheduled with key state and city personnel cancelled within the hour.
    These meetings were suggested by Christie's office in order to help the mayor of one of if not the largest city in New Jersey transition smoothly into his post. E-mails were exchanged back and forth. Everyone had agreed to be there, city comptroller and such key personnel, heck, the food was being ordered and within an hour of Mayor Fulop deciding not to endorse Christie for governor EVERYONE cancelled. Everyone. And of course the prerequisite "radio silence" from the governor's office to Mayor Fulop's subsequent calls wondering what happenned.
    Things about Christie's style that make you go hmmmmm......and establish a pattern of behaviour.

    January 15, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    "But the poll shows that most people, both dem and repub, believe and trust him."

    Just to be clear, tom I ... I mock polling data no matter who it pertains to. Nor do I use polling data as a criteria of whom to vote for when I cast my vote at the polling booth.

    It doesn't matter to me personally who "trusts" him or not. Christie was never someone I felt comfortable voting for from the get-go. Should he choose to run; should he be nominated to run means nothing to me. I won't be voting for him.

    January 15, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    tom l. wrote:

    I respectfully disagree with you. All of the hardcore liberals on here have absolutely convicted Christie as being guilty without proof or evidence so far that he coordinated this or had knowledge of it. Your position is more representative of your political leanings more than anything else. ... ... ... You accept all of Obama's excuses for everything that he didn't know such as the website issues, the IYLYPYCKI, the IRS, Benghazi, ...
    -------------------------
    You need to take a serious look in a mirror before you start accusing people of forming opinions on issues based upon their political leanings. You're overreaching. People say that they take Christie at his word, and you categorically reject their sincerity, all the while you yourself are taking Christie at his word. You want people to agree with your opinions, but when they do you try kick them back where you think that they belong.

    As far as all of that other dog whistle and pony show you've displayed, there's no "there" there. The IRS "scandal" was debunked by Darrell Issa's own committee last August when Democrats forced the release showing that groups across the entire political landscape were investigated in the same way. Furthermore, the person most responsibile for the behaviors was at least 6 or 8 rungs down the ladder from the head of the IRS, and not someone sitting at desk less than 50 feet from Pres. Obama. Benghazi? Transcripts show that head of the team in Tripoli testified that no order was ever given to stand down.

    January 15, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. current state of the union

    Any police detective worth his weight in salt will tell you, a person lies when being investigated for one reason, he cannot tell the truth without incriminating himself, but hey, believe what you will, there are several cases that parallel this event, for years . You can fool yourself, but he lied about nearly every thing asked, he hardly knows the guy, only to have his staff say they know each other well, went to school together as a matter of fact, haven't talked to him at call in that time period, wrong, another bald faced lie, picture was legit, they were hanging out, and he never seen tgeftont page article, enough already, your lying through your teeth. You only sound foolish believing him, but Darrel issa, now that's a true blue investigation, only allow witnesses who support your case, and refuse to allow a defense, another piece of garbage, the gop struggles with the truth, badly

    January 15, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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