Christie Disapproval Rating Rises as New Jersey Residents Get to Know Him

Governor Chris Christie gained detractors among New Jersey residents who previously were undecided about the first-term Republican, a poll showed.

Christie scored a 49 percent disapproval rate in a Monmouth University poll released today. The finding was 9 percentage points higher than the figure in the most recent Monmouth poll, in February. The governor’s approval rating was unchanged, at 47 percent.

Less than half of those surveyed, 46 percent, were familiar with the town-hall meetings Christie has been holding to explain his budget, his 2 percent property-tax cap and his attempt to reduce pay and benefits for New Jersey’s unionized public employees. The governor, 48, is scheduled to make his 17th-such appearance of 2011 today in Middlesex County.

“Efforts to sell his reform agenda at town-hall meetings generate a lot of media attention, but it appears that New Jerseyans who are paying the most attention to these events have already made up their minds about the governor’s proposals,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie, said the administration typically doesn’t comment on poll results.

“They’re snapshots in time,” Drewniak said in a telephone interview. “Polls move in both directions.”

Union Ads

On May 4 the New Jersey Education Association, the union representing 200,000 school employees and retirees, released a television commercial criticizing Christie for giving “a tax cut to millionaires -- a back-door deal to reward the people who put him” in office.

The ad is part of the union’s campaign of billboard, radio and television spots to counter the governor’s attempts to change teacher tenure rules and cut pay and benefits. The union last year spent $6.6 million on all advertising, the most of any state lobbying group, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission in Trenton. The expenditure included the anti- Christie messages.

Christie’s $29.4 billion New Jersey budget for fiscal 2012 was familiar to 86 percent of respondents, and 33 percent said they had heard a lot about it. About one in four residents said they were satisfied with the governor’s budget proposal.

Revenue Estimates

The poll was conducted prior to yesterday’s release of revised tax-revenue projections, which some Democratic lawmakers said should go toward a mandated surplus, restoring some school- aid cuts or increasing property-tax rebates. David Rosen, a forecaster for the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, estimated the extra revenue to be $914 million through June 2012. Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff said his figure was $511 million.

Approval ratings for the Assembly and Senate, the two legislative houses controlled by Democrats, remained negative, with 47 percent disapproving and 33 percent approving. Twenty percent said they didn’t have an opinion.

The telephone poll of 807 adults was conducted May 12-16. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elise Young in N.J. Statehouse at Eyoung30@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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