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Christie Wins N.J. Democrats With Sandy Response: Poll

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Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Republican Governor Chris Christie, heading into the last year of his first term, won over New Jersey Democrats with his handling of superstorm Sandy, boosting his approval rating to a record 77 percent, a poll shows.

The biggest gain came from Democrats, whose approval of Christie’s job performance soared to 67 percent after the Oct. 29 storm, from 26 percent before, according to the survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind polling center.

“To the extent that these numbers tell a story, they point to the recognition among voters that leadership was present at a time of crisis,” Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind, said in a statement. “Governor Christie’s post-Sandy bounce suggests he was successful in capitalizing on this moment.”

The storm swept ashore near Atlantic City with hurricane-force winds and surging flood waters, leaving 37 people dead in New Jersey and blacking-out as many as 2.7 million in the state. Christie crisscrossed affected areas, giving updates on the recovery, restoring power and embracing President Barack Obama, a Democrat, following a tour of the damage. A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Nov. 21 also showed a Sandy bounce for Christie.

“A situation like this gives politicians an opportunity to put partisan politics aside,” Jenkins said. “Democratic respondents approve of Christie for his leadership.”

The 50-year-old governor hasn’t said whether he plans to seek re-election next year.

Questioned Twice

Poll takers for PublicMind, based in Madison, New Jersey, questioned 241 registered New Jersey voters by telephone from Oct. 26-29, before the storm hit and prior to the Nov. 6 presidential election, and again from Nov. 13-18. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.3 percentage points.

In pre-election polling, just 25 percent of Democrats said Christie was doing a good or excellent job, compared with 56 percent of independents. In the subsequent survey, those proportions climbed to 58 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of independents. Those who said the state is headed in the right direction surged to 69 percent post-Sandy from 58 percent.

In the survey released Nov. 21, Christie’s favorability score jumped to 67 percent of registered voters from 48 percent in October. About 4-in-5 respondents said the governor’s embrace of Obama showed “needed cooperation and bipartisanship.”

The president won a second term Nov. 6, beating former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican who counted Christie among his most-vocal backers.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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