Chris Christie has accomplished little as governor, most N.J. residents say in poll

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By Matt Arco | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

TRENTON — Three-quarters of New Jersey residents believe Gov. Chris Christie has made minor or no real accomplishments to the state since first taking office, according to a new poll.

A majority of residents rate Christie average when stacked about against his predecessors and 75 percent indicated his accomplishments for the state have been minor or minimal, according to the Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll released today. It found only about one-in-five residents, just 19 percent, said the Christie years have been good for the average Garden State citizen.

New Jersey residents are critical of Christie over the state’s economic conditions, with a little more than half – 52 percent – indicating they believe taxes and spending have increased under the administration and 42 percent saying the state’s overall economy has grown worse over the last five years.

“Voters look to what someone has done in the past for insight into what the future may hold. Many in the state don’t believe the economic conditions have improved while Governor Christie has been in office,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind.

Residents responded similarly when asked to consider the health of other issues facing the state, including its transportation systems, environmental conditions and New Jersey’s cities.

“Across these areas, a plurality of respondents say little has changed,” the poll found. “Forty-seven percent for the state’s transportation system, 50 percent for environmental conditions, and 41 percent for the state’s major cities, respectively.”

Christie, who could signal by the end of the month that he’s taking concrete steps toward running for president in 2016, could be hurt by the findings in a national bid, Jenkins added.

“That may complicate his appeal outside of the state,” she said.

On state government ethics and honesty, 42 percent said things have gotten worse and 39 percent say they’ve remained unchanged.

“As Governor Christie has worked to establish himself as a leader on fiscal restraint, tax reform and economic growth, as well as creating a political environment that’s open and honest, these numbers might sting,” Jenkins said. “… The governor’s potential candidacy would be an easier sell to unfamiliar outsiders if his constituents believe that their lives are easier now than before he was sworn in, and that corruption in the state has been replaced by transparency and honesty.”

The latest survey comes after PublicMind released a statewide poll on Tuesdaythat found just 39 percent of voters said they approve of the job Christie has been doing, while nearly half – 47 percent – said they disapprove. It was a slight drop from FDU’s October survey, when 41 percent of voters gave Christie a positive approval rating and 47 percent said they disproved of his work as governor.

According to the poll released earlier in the week, voters believe Christie is more concerned with a potential run for president (53 percent) than acting as governor of New Jersey (32 percent). Nearly three in four (72 percent) say his decisions are influenced by his desire to run for the White House "most or some of the time," and with almost one in three respondents (31 percent) saying this was the case "most of the time."

The latest survey of 803 residents was conducted between Jan. 5-11. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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