Murphy’s latest job approval poll is out, and the number of unhappy N.J. residents is rising

Updated Apr 4, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy’s standing with New Jerseyans has slipped a bit, with those who don’t believe he’s doing a good job rising by double digits since the fall, according to a new poll released Thursday.

Most people — 52 percent — approve of the job he’s doing, while 43 percent disapprove of his performance, according to the first joint Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University poll.

In a November Rutgers poll, 43 percent approved of the job Murphy was doing, compared to 28 percent who disapproved. An October FDU pollfound 49 percent saying he was doing a good job as governor, with 31 percent saying he wasn’t.

While the poll described Murphy’s approval numbers as “lackluster" and other recent polls showed his popularity dipped as more people formed an opinion about him, there’s a silver lining: Murphy is no worse than where his two immediate predecessors were at this point in their terms.

“These numbers are similar to both of his most recent predecessors, Governors Chris Christie and Jon Corzine at a similar time in their administrations," Krista Jenkins, professor of government at Fairleigh Dickinson University and director of the FDU poll, said.

Jenkins added: “One (Christie) went on to a second term, while the other (Corzine) was defeated two years later.”

It’s not that mess of a snowstorm that same month that turned New Jersey’s roads and highways into parking lots that has people souring on Murphy. (While critics ridiculed Murphy for over-reacting to subsequent snowstorms, people gave him his highest marks for how he handled the winter: 59 percent approve, compared to only 36 percent who disapprove).

It’s taxes that are dragging him down.

Sixty-four percent disapprove of how he’s handling taxes compared to 29 percent who approve of his performance in that area, according to the poll

On his handling of the state’s pension fund, half of New Jerseyans disapprove while 30 percent approve, according to the poll. When it comes to how he’s handling the state’s budget, 54 percent disapprove, while only 34 percent approve.

But the poll showed a clear majority of the state is with Murphy on his push to bump the tax rate on people who earn more than $1 million a year in the state.

Forty-six percent “strongly” support a millionaires tax and another 26 percent “somewhat” back it, according to the poll. Only 14 percent either strongly or somewhat oppose the measure.

Also on the more positive side, Murphy, who wants to legalize recreational marijuana, has 47 approval on handling New Jersey’s drug policy. Forty-one percent disapprove.

On education and schools, 49 percent approve and 41 percent disapprove, and on the state’s criminal justice system 46 percent approve while 40 percent disapprove, according to the survey.

The joint poll surveyed 1,203 people March 7- 22, with 621 contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones and 582 through an online probability-based panel. It has a combined margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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