Rutgers-Eagleton is out with its latest poll, which finds that Gov. Phil Murphy’s favorability rating has rebounded after taking a hit this past spring, with 47% of residents approving of the job he is doing as governor.
That 47% number, released Sept. 29, is a double-digit jump from the 33% favorability rating reported in the March survey from the Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. Murphy’s unfavorable number is now at 33%, while 15% have no opinion on him.
Meanwhile, the governor’s job approval rating has held relatively steady over the past 18 months, with 54% of New Jerseyans approving of the job Murphy is doing, compared with 37% disapproval and 9% who are unsure.
“Driven by increased positivity among Democrats and independents, Gov. Murphy’s numbers are now back to where they were this time last year – not at his pandemic highs, but better than when he started his first term and certainly better than six months ago,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the ECPIP at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “The fatigue of a gubernatorial election and a pandemic seem to have worn off as life and governing in the state return to some sense of normal.”
The poll found that New Jerseyans are pretty evenly divided when it comes to the state’s future, with 48% believing the Garden State is going in the right direction while 45% say it has gone off the rails.
Still, it is a double-digit improvement from last year.
“New Jerseyans’ outlook on the Garden State has rebounded from the dip it took over the past year of the pandemic, but it still nowhere near as positive as it was in the year post-Superstorm Sandy,” said Koning. “While the numbers mark a potential return to slightly more positivity, they do not fully abandon the slump that the state’s direction has been in since 2014.”
Of those that believe the state headed in the right direction, 50% said it is because things are changing for the better; 47% feel it is because things are not getting worse.
On the flip side, of those who believe New Jersey is on the wrong track, 67% say it is because things are changing for the worse while 32% feel it is because things are not getting better.
“When probed further about why they feel the way they do, residents who have a negative outlook focus much more on the way the state is evolving versus those who feel positively – half of whom are content simply maintaining the status quo,” said Jessica Roman, a research associate at ECPIP.
The poll also took the temperature on New Jersey’s two U.S. senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez. It found that 50% of New Jerseyans have a favorable view of Booker versus 29% unfavorable, 14% who are unsure and 7% who simply do not know who he is.
Booker’s job approval also sits at 50% with a 34% disapproval with 16% unsure. Menendez sits at a 29% favorability rating with 36% finding him unfavorable, 22% with no opinion and 14% saying they do not know who he is. His job approval is also pretty split with 38% approval, 37% disapproval and 25% who are unsure.