A Friday morning poll gave Gov. Phil Murphy high marks for how his administration has handled the state’s COVID-response since March – keeping in line with poll numbers released throughout the year.
That’s in spite of record-high unemployment, mass business closures – many permanent – and one of the nation’s highest COVID-19 death tolls, with a large number of them from long-term care facilities.
Fairleigh Dickinson University reported on Friday morning that 72% of New Jerseyans said Murphy was doing a good job handling the state’s response, with 33% saying he did a very good job and 39% saying he did a somewhat good job.
A July poll from FDU gave the governor a 67% approval rating for how he handled the pandemic, while an April poll from Monmouth University gave Murphy a 79% overall approval rating for his pandemic management.
“Gov. Murphy will face the voters next year,” Krista Jenkins, director of the FDU poll and a professor of politics and government at the university, said in the Friday report. “Despite what can only be described as an unprecedented health and economic crisis facing the state, his leadership is appreciated by large majorities across New Jersey.”
The governor has achieved several political victories during the pandemic. He finally pushed through his sought-after millionaire’s tax in September – after it was twice-blocked by the state Legislature – along with more than $4 billion in new state debt. And he got his desired “chapter 78-relief” for public school employees’ health care plans through, which finally garnered the support of his often-times political rival, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District.
Murphy has extended the state’s public health emergency every 30 days since March, meaning a litany of enacted restrictions continue to stay in effect in an effort to keep the spread of the virus under control.
As a result, restaurants can only operate indoors at 25% capacity, while gyms, indoor theaters, hair salons, casinos and indoor malls all also have to scale back operations. Unemployment remains high, with more than 1.6 million New Jerseyans having lost their jobs since March.
Now, New Jersey finds itself on the precipice of a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, with the governor warning that large gatherings, like for Thanksgiving, should be avoided this year.
“Gov. Murphy hasn’t led New Jersey, he’s failed it,” NJGOP Chairman Douglass Steinhardt, a potential contender for governor, said in an Oct. 1 statement.
“From 7,100 long-term care facility deaths and counting, to federal investigations, State Commission of Investigation reports, motor vehicle agency lines, unemployment agency backlogs, toll increases, tax increases, mishandled rape allegations, and a steady stream of executive orders that robbed New Jerseyans of their rights to earn a living, Phil Murphy has made N.J. less affordable, less livable, and less free.”
The FDU poll found Murphy had a 60% approval rating, compared to a 42% approval rating in February from the institute.
Just 31% of New Jerseryans disapproved of Murphy, according to the Friday poll, which interviewed 846 New Jersey adults by phone between Sept. 30, and Oct. 5, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.r