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Christie’s Approval at 53% at Close of Freshman Year, Poll Says

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets a positive job rating from more than half the state’s voters as he closes his first year in office, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll.

Fifty-three percent of voters told pollsters from the university’s PublicMind Polling Institute they approve of the way he’s handling his job, the school said today. Thirty-six percent said they disapprove. The approval rating compares with a 49 percent score Christie received in Fairleigh Dickinson’s November poll.

“Voters are focused on finances -- theirs and the state’s,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll, in a statement. “Voters didn’t get a tax hike at the state level as they did in past crises. The key is whether, or how much, they might get in local property-tax hikes later this year or next.”

The results come after Christie, the first Republican elected New Jersey governor since 1997, clashed with unions representing teachers and public workers, cut $1.3 billion in aid to municipalities and canceled a proposed commuter-rail tunnel to Manhattan. He took office Jan. 19 after ousting Democrat Jon Corzine amid voter discontent over taxes and state finances.

State of State

Christie, 48, is scheduled to deliver his first State of the State address today to a joint meeting of the Senate and Assembly in Trenton, the state capital. He said he’ll implore lawmakers to maintain “fiscal discipline” and will prod them to take up a package of measures designed to pare a $53.9 billion deficit in the fund providing pension benefits to current and future retirees.

Three out of five voters surveyed by Madison, New Jersey-based PublicMind said the state should “hold the line” on spending even if it means program cuts, while 21 percent say they would support tax increases to maintain services. Forty percent of voters from public-employee households rated Christie’s job performance as poor, compared with 17 percent of the total sample.

“Voters who are in an anti-tax and budget-cutting mood find that Christie has not disappointed them,” said Woolley. “Of course, people who object to budget cuts are the ones who are deeply disappointed.”

PublicMind researchers surveyed 802 registered voters by telephone from Jan. 3-9. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton, New Jersey, at tdopp@bloomberg.net.

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

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