New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who hasn’t said whether he’ll seek re-election next year, surged to a record-high favorability rating following his response to superstorm Sandy, according to a poll.
The first-term governor was rated favorably by 67 percent of registered voters, up from 48 percent barely a month earlier, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today shows. More than 9-in-10 said he handled Sandy “very well” or “somewhat well.”
Christie’s embrace of President Barack Obama, a Democrat seeking re-election with less than a week before the Nov. 6 voting, showed “needed cooperation and bipartisanship” between the two leaders, according to 81 percent of those surveyed. They toured damaged areas together and held daily telephone calls to discuss the response. Christie drew criticism from some national Republican figures for praising Obama’s aid.
“Governor Christie has emerged as a clear leader in this crisis, with New Jerseyans applauding his efforts,” David Redlawsk, the poll director who teaches politics at Rutgers, said in a statement. “In a time of crisis, people expect their elected leaders to put politics aside, and when that happens, they respond very positively.”
Sandy, which struck with hurricane-force winds and surging floodwaters Oct. 29, left 37 dead in New Jersey, blacked out as many as 2.7 million and devastated coastal areas. Christie traveled the state and appeared on television daily, giving briefings on storm-recovery efforts and the status of power restoration.
Christie’s approval rating is “by far” his highest yet in the poll and previously hadn’t cracked the 50 percent mark, Redlawsk said by e-mail. He received favorable marks from 49 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents and 89 percent of Republicans, according to the survey from the New Brunswick-based polling center.
The governor has said he hasn’t decided whether to seek re-election in November 2013.
Researchers polled 1,108 registered voters in New Jersey by telephone Nov. 14-17. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.