Republican Gov. Chris Christie has sunk to new lows in the eyes of New Jersey residents.
As he works to lay the groundwork for an expected 2016 presidential bid, his favorability rating at home has dropped to its lowest point, according to a poll by Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling out Friday.
Just 37 percent of the state’s registered voters say they have a favorable impression of Christie, down from 44 percent in December. His previous low was 42 percent in October.
And for the first time, a clear majority of those polled, 53 percent, have an unfavorable impression of him. A majority of those polled also disapprove of his job performance.
The poll, of 694 registered voters, was conducted by telephone from Feb. 3 through Tuesday and had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points, Rutgers-Eagleton said.
Christie’s slide is especially evident among independent voters, whose favorable impressions have fallen 16 percentage points since December to 31 percent, according to the poll.
“Christie’s loss of independent support undercuts his efforts to be seen as appealing across the political spectrum,” Eagleton Center director David Redlawsk said in a statement released with the numbers.
He said the 16-point drop was even larger than the one logged after of the George Washington Bridge scandal broke and “would seem to be nothing but bad news as the governor ramps up his national profile.”
Pollsters also asked voters what they think has contributed most to Christie’s tumbling ratings. His “Jersey guy” personality came out on top.
Twenty percent of those polled mentioned Christie’s attitude, personality and behavior, while 15 percent referred to the bridge scandal, in which some of his allies are accused of engineering traffic jams to spite the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who didn’t support him for re-election. Another 10 percent referenced a perceived lack of attention to New Jersey as he eyes a White House run and travels across the country.
The Rutgers-Eagleton poll results mirror other those of recent polls by other organizations. Christie has dismissed the sliding numbers, saying polls are fickle. He also has insisted voters don’t mind his frequent out-of-state travel.
In the last few months, Christie, who has denied any knowledge of the scheme to snarl traffic at the George Washington Bridge, has used his platform as chair of the Republican Governors Association to carefully rebuild his brand as he considers running for president. He traveled across the country, visiting several states, before the November general election to help boost GOP candidates.
The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, established in 1971, says its mission is to provide scientifically sound, unbiased analyses of public opinion. It says its research projects are conducted by researchers with backgrounds in areas including political science, statistics, journalism and exit polling.