Less than half of New Jersey adults – 48% – think Gov. Phil Murphy deserves a second term in office, as he gears up for a reelection campaign against the presumptive Republican nominee, former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.
That’s according to a May 5 poll released by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which found that 43% of respondents felt that someone else should be in the office.
Murphy’s overall approval stood at 57%, compared to a 35% disapproval rating. That’s down from last year’s Monmouth poll numbers, when he garnered a 71% approval rating, according to the poll that interviewed 706 New Jersey adults by phone between April 29 and May 4.
The figures are in line with a March 31 Stockton University poll that showed him at a 58% approval rating.
Patrick Murray, who heads the Monmouth polling institute, said many voters will not decide who to vote for until much closer to the November elections.
“Murphy has a pretty strong job rating going into his reelection bid. However, New Jersey voters are a fickle lot and a good number will sit on the fence until we get closer to the fall campaign in case things go south for the state,” Murray said in the report.
Among Democrats, 77% said they would vote for Murphy again, compared to 39% of independents and 15% of Republican respondents.
“A lot of New Jerseyans feel like they’ve already been bitten by a governor who cruised to reelection during a time of crisis. I think that probably dampens some voters’ enthusiasm about giving Murphy a second term,” Murray continued.
Most metrics and overall approval appear to be heading in a favorable direction, according to the report.
A third of respondents – 34% – said they felt the governor had at least some major accomplishments he could point to during his previous three and a half years in office, compared to 37% who said he has only minor accomplishments and 25% who said he had “no real accomplishments.”
“In September 2019, just 12% said Murphy had major accomplishments and 42% credited him with minor accomplishments,” the poll notes.
In areas like help to the poor and New Jersey Transit improvements, more respondents felt like Murphy did a better job than when they were previously interviewed.
Property taxes were the one area where respondents felt Murphy’s performance has worsened, a long-standing albatross around the state’s neck along with the overall cost of living.
Forty-six percent of respondents said they’ve been helped by the administration on this front and 26% said his policies failed to make any kind of dent on property taxes.
“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,” Murray said in a December interview.
He suggested that a transition from the COVID-19 lockdowns to a realm of pre-pandemic normalcy could translate to less impressive poll numbers than what Murphy saw during the pandemic.