(CNN) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating is continuing to take a hit, more than a month after the George Washington Bridge controversy made national headlines, according to a new Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released Monday.
While the Republican’s approval ratings were sky-high last year during his re-election campaign, only 49% of the state’s registered voters approve of the job he’s doing now, down from 58% in January and from 70% a year ago.
More people than before believe that Christie is being untruthful about the traffic scandal that has roiled his administration. Of the people who have heard about the traffic controversy, 61% believe he is not being completely honest about what he knows, up from 51% last month. Monmouth notes that increase mostly comes from Democrats.
A state legislative committee and the U.S. Attorney's Office are investigating whether Christie's top aides orchestrated a traffic jam in Fort Lee as an act of political payback against the city’s Democratic mayor, who didn't endorse Christie's re-election bid last year.
Christie has repeatedly denied having any prior involvement or knowledge of the alleged plot.
Half of residents who’ve been paying attention to the story think Christie was personally involved, up from 34% a month ago. And for the first time, a majority (56%) of residents believe the governors is putting his own career ahead of New Jersey’s interests, according to the survey.
“This hole is getting deeper. Christie’s image as the hero of Sandy is now just a fading memory,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a release about the poll.
Christie was widely lauded for his handling of the Superstorm Sandy aftermath, but he is seeing declining numbers in that arena, as well. Four in 10 residents would give the administration a grade of ‘A’ or ‘B’ for its Sandy recovery efforts, while 32% would give it a ‘C’ and a quarter would give it a grade of ‘D’ or ‘F.’
Christie faced questions last week at a town hall from Sandy victims still struggling roughly 16 months after the storm. He mostly blamed bureaucratic red tape from the federal government for the delays in aid and called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the new “F-word.”
However, 55% say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the state’s recovery efforts, though that number is down from 66% in December and 76% in September.
The poll also shows some troubling signs for the state legislature that’s conducting one of the probes into the traffic scandal. Fifty-six percent of residents say the special investigative committee is motivated more by politics than by learning the facts of the case.
The Democratic-controlled legislature’s job approval rating has also decreased in the past month to 41%, down from 47%.
“While the governor has certainly taken a hit in public opinion, the poll also has a word of warning for the legislature. Tread carefully with the investigation,” Murray said.
For the survey, Monmouth interviewed 803 New Jersey adults by telephone from February 19 to 23. The overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.