(CNN) – Unfavorable opinions of Chris Christie have doubled over the past year, according to a new national poll.
A Pew Research Center survey released Monday also indicates that a majority who've heard about the George Washington Bridge controversy say that they don't believe the New Jersey governor when he says he wasn't aware of his aides alleged involvement in the closing of access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge, causing massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
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A year ago, a few months after Superstorm Sandy hit, favorable opinions (40%) of Christie among Americans outweighed unfavorable opinions (17%) by a more than two-to-one margin. Now, with a 38%-34% favorable/unfavorable rating, those sentiments are fairly equal, according to the Pew poll. There's a big drop in the survey of those who were unsure about their opinion of Christie, from 42% in January 2013, to 28% now, with most of those people apparently moving their opinion of Christie to unfavorable.
The survey suggests a partisan divide over the Republican governor and potential 2016 GOP White House contender. Unfavorable opinions of Christie among Democrats have soared 25 percentage points, from 18% a year ago to 43% now. And unfavorable views among independent voters have more than doubled, from 155 to 33%.
"However, Republicans still view Christie favorably by 49% to 27%. That is only modestly changed from last January, when an identical percentage (49%) viewed Christie favorably and 20% had a negative opinion," says a release from Pew Research.
According to the poll, a majority (58%) who've heard about the George Washington Bridge controversy say that they don't believe Christie when he says he wasn't aware of his aides alleged involvement in the closing of access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge, causing massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Just over three in ten say they believe the Governor.
The Pew Research Center poll was conducted January 15-19, well after the bridge controversy had made national headlines, but mostly before the widespread coverage this weekend of the Democratic Mayor of Hoboken claims that the Governor used Superstorm Sandy recovery funds as leverage over a development project stalled in the city across the Hudson River from New York.
The Pew analysis is based on telephone interviews of 1,504 adults nationwide. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
According to an NBC News/Marist survey conducted at the beginning of last week, nearly seven in 10 said the bridge controversy had not changed their opinion of Christie, with around a fifth saying they liked him less because of the bridge controversy. The poll indicated that a plurality believed that Christie is mostly telling the truth when he said he didn't know about the lane closures, with about a third saying Christie wasn't telling the truth.