Although Gov. Phil Murphy faces little party resistance in the June 8 primary, a new poll shows the first-term Democrat’s approval numbers continue to slide down from their record-high amid the pandemic last year.
And now, as the Republican party squares up who Murphy’s potential political opponent for the seat of governor will be in November, many voters say their attention has turned to more run-of-the-mill issues such as taxes.
That’s according to a June 7 poll from the Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
In this latest report, 47% of respondents said they had a “favorable impression” of the Democratic governor, down from 54% in October. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they had an “unfavorable” impression of Murphy according to the June poll, compared to 28% in October.
In this recent poll, 55% of people approved of the job Murphy was doing as governor, compared to 62% in October. Murphy’s disapproval rating stood at 40% in the June poll, up from 33% in October.
Two contenders are vying for the GOP nomination to try and unseat Murphy from his seat as governor come this November: Hirsh Singh and former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli from Somerset County.
“The ‘rally around the flag’ effect the pandemic has had on Gov. Murphy’s ratings in the past year is inevitably coming to an end,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor who heads the polling institute.
Just 7% of respondents gave him an “A” on his handling of taxes, according to the poll, which relied on phone interviews with 1,004 New Jersey adults, conducted between May 21 and 29. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
The poll found that 31% gave Murphy an “F” for how he was handling property taxes, while 19% gave him a “D,” 23% gave him a “C” and 20% gave him a “B.”
“If we get back to normal, it’s possible that other issues become very important standard economic issues – property taxes, cost of living, those are the things that matter most,” Patrick Murray, who heads the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a December interview.
Indeed, most of the COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and public gatherings have been lifted in the past month. Face coverings and social distancing are no longer required indoors among fully vaccinated patrons.
But Murray suggested that a return to the pre-pandemic lifestyle could mean a return to the less impressive pre-pandemic poll numbers that Murphy saw before the onset of COVID-19.
Murphy’s approval rating in a Monmouth University poll from early this May stood at 57%, compared to 71% in 2020. And less than half of New Jersey adults in the poll – 48% – felt Murphy deserved a second term.r