In the realm of politics, you are always seeking to have at least an approval rating of 51% or better. If you are at that threshold of 51% at a minimum, you are likely in good enough shape to win a reelection campaign. If you start to jump above 60%, you almost provide a nearly impossible road for any challenger or opponent. During most of Governor Chris Christie's time as governor, he has generally been between 40% and 55% with an average in the high 40s most of the time. However, last Fall came Hurricane Sandy and Governor Christie was thrown into action and the national spotlight once again. He would denounce party politics as usual in favor of ensuring that the residents of New Jersey were safe and in the months after he would fight for relief aide and look to rebuild the Garden State.
All of that would provide a timely boost for Governor's Christie's approval ratings as his impending reelection campaign was about to start. While bumps after a major accomplishment or a positive outcome ala President Barack Obama after the death of Osama Bin Laden, usually within a few months polls return to around the average level that a president or governor in particular would see if they are doing well enough. That 51% or slightly higher or lower depending on the state of electorate and those polled. However, Christie would still see high ratings months later as the state was nearing primary day in the state.
A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released would show that Christie had a 68% overall approval rating with 64% having a favorable impression of him and 60% giving him either an A or B grade. Furthermore, the Hurricane Sandy effect on his approval rating can be seen in the fact that 87% approve of his post-Sandy efforts. Approval numbers would dip on some of the more routine top issues for the state. 42% approve of how he is handling thh economy and jobs, 37% approve of his tax policy, and about 50% approve of his budgetary efforts.
While 68% is a high percentage for an approval rating, it was a bit of dip from earlier in the year and speaks a little to that bump effect wearing off. Obviously, there was not too big of that effect or one could also say his approval was so high that it would take time for it drop back close to his average numbers.
As David Redlawsk would explain,
Christie still has ratings any governor would love, but all-time highs generally come back toward earth over time. With Sandy recovery helping drive overall approval and voters all but ecstatic at his efforts there, Christie remains in great political shape.
A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll around the same time would highlight equally strong approval numbers. According to the poll, 63% approved of the governor and 26% disapproved of him and the job he was doing. Like the other poll, his approval rating was a bit down from earlier in the year. Nonetheless, besides getting nearly 90% support from Republicans; he continued to see good numbers among Independents (64%) and Democrats (52%) as well. Additionally, 59% feel that Christie is deserving of a second term while 34% favor having a new governor.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Senator Barbara Buono (D-18) has worked to portray Christie as a governor who does not reflect the views and opinions of New Jersey. However, this poll would show that a slight majority of residents (55%) agree with Christie's approach to government spending but are divided (44% in favor and 45% against) when it comes to his approach to property taxes. There is an equal amount of division among residents when it comes to Christie's approach to same sex marriage and how residents in the state either agree or disagree. 31% say Christie is in line with their view on the issue while 34% say he is out of step and 33% are not sure. A very divided electorate on that matter for sure and that could provide interesting for how voters approve a growing hot button issue and one that Christie has prevented from being legal in the Garden State.
As Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, would outline;
There may be some hay to be made over possible gaps between New Jersey’s take on these issues and Chris Christie’s own views. However, social issues are not particularly relevant for swing voters in the upcoming election. Property taxes, though, may be a different story, which could explain the governor’s renewed call this week for a property tax credit.
Just when it looked like Christie's late 2012/early 2013 high approval ratings were about to slowly return to a more normal range for him, a Kean University poll released not long after the previous two polls would show him still doing extremely well among voters. The poll would show him receiving a 71% approval rating compared to a 28% disapproval rating. 61% of Democrats in the poll approve of Christie. Not exactly what Buono would like to see. The poll also showed 70% of men and 71% of women approving of him and women by three points strongly approve of him compared to men (39% to 36%).
The poll would examine name recognition between Christie and Buono as well. He holds a 61 point edge (96% to 35%) over her. Another rough sign for her campaign.
With the primary phase of the race over and the focus officially on a contest between Christie and Buono, a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll would only continue the strong polling trend for Christie. 70% of respondents approved of the job he has done. When the poll starts to look at how voters view Christie on things like the economy and taxes, it begins to look like a much more partisan opinion of him with Republicans giving him more than 60% support and Democrats giving him less than 30% support.
As Redlawsk would express,
The post-Sandy ‘Rally around Christie’ effect has continued much longer than we might have expected. By way of contrast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also initially had sky-high ratings, has come back to earth in recent polls, down 20 points from his peak. Christie, despite negative ratings for key issues, has seen very little long-term erosion in support.
As the summer months would move the race past Labor Day into the final two months of the race, the polls continued to look very strong for Christie. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released recently continues to show a very high percent of voters approving of him. Hardly seeing much change, 66% give Christie a positive job rating. 31% give him a negative rating. At the same time, only 42% expressed confidence in the way he was handling jobs and the economy in the state.
That poll would be followed by a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll that showed 61% approving of Christie and 24% disapproving of him. The governor also saw similar approval among both men and women with 62% and 61% respectively approving of him. While nearly 90% of Republicans approve of Christie, for the first time since Hurricane Sandy less than 50% approve of him with a 47%approval rating.
As Murray would state,
The governor continues to hold a strong post-Sandy standing among New Jersey residents. The only evidence of a dip comes from Democrats, and even that group remains relatively positive.
Thus, despite the hurricane that hit New Jersey being nearly a year ago; it still remains a major reason for his polling success. He still has work to do on individual issues among voters especially with property taxes and property tax relief. If he continues to poll high with both men and women and have nearly 50% of Democrats supporting him, it will be very difficult for Buono to win let alone close the current gap in the polls. With less than two months to go before November's elections, Christie's approval rating looks to stay at least above 60% if not higher and the impact of Hurricane Sandy has truly paid dividends for him during a reelection year.