A majority of New Jerseyans continue to approve of the job Gov. Phil Murphy is doing, with about 3 in 10 saying he has major policy accomplishments to point to in his term. The latest Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll of Garden State residents finds that expectations are not high that Murphy has his eyes on the Oval Office, although even fewer say the same about his predecessor, Gov. Chris Christie.
Interestingly, more residents actually expect Sen. Cory Booker to mount another presidential run. But none of these three potential White House candidates receives an overwhelming nod as presidential material from their fellow New Jerseyans. At the same time, the poll finds a certain losing Pennsylvania senate candidate would not get a particularly warm welcome if he tried to use the Garden State as a political launch pad.
Murphy gets a 53% approve and 35% disapprove rating from all New Jersey adults for the job he is doing as governor. Among registered voters, his rating is 52% approve and 36% disapprove. These results are in line with Murphy’s ratings over the past two years, both before and after his closer than expected reelection victory in 2021. The governor’s approval topped 70% in 2020, just as the Covid pandemic started to spread. Murphy currently gets positive ratings from 84% of Democrats, 46% of independents, and 16% of Republicans.
“Murphy seems to be holding course. His rating is above water in a state where Democrats have a registration advantage, but he doesn’t seem to have broken through yet with a major legacy item that New Jerseyans point to as a hallmark of his administration,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
About 3 in 10 New Jerseyans (29%) say Murphy has achieved some major accomplishments during his time as governor and 42% say he has minor accomplishments. Another 26%, though, say he has no real accomplishments to point to. The results of this poll, which was conducted prior to Tuesday’s State of the State address, are similar to Monmouth polls taken over the past two years. Among Murphy’s fellow Democrats, 48% say he has major accomplishments, 39% minor accomplishments, and 9% no accomplishments. Going back just over ten years to the prior incumbent’s term, 42% of New Jersey adults said then-Gov. Christie had major accomplishments and 41% said he had minor accomplishments, while just 11% said he had none.
The public continues to be divided on whether Murphy is more concerned about his own political future (45%) or more concerned with governing the state (44%). The number of New Jerseyans who say the governor is more concerned with his own future has ranged between 39% and 49% since he took office. By comparison, this same metric for Christie reached a majority of residents once his second term got underway and ended with nearly 8 in 10 seeing him as more concerned about his own future by the time he left office.
About 4 in 10 New Jersey residents believe that Murphy is planning to run for president someday (7% say he definitely is and 33% say probably) – which is only slightly higher than public opinion on Murphy’s ambitions a year ago. Despite the public’s positive ratings of the job Murphy is doing, just 32% say he would make a good president, including 54% of his fellow Democrats. Most (55%) say he is not presidential material.
“I think part of the low expectations for Murphy on the national stage is that there isn’t an obvious job opening in the foreseeable future. The same can’t be said for Christie, but still most New Jerseyans seem to think his disappointing 2016 run should have been enough for him,” said Murray.
Few New Jerseyans (35%) think Christie will run for president again, even though media circles continue to buzz about a potential 2024 run. At the same time, just 20% of his former constituents say Christie would make a good president while nearly 3 in 4 (73%) say he would not. Majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans say Christie is not a good fit for the White House. The current results are similar to statewide opinion on this question during Christie’s final years in office.
In contrast with low expectations for the current and former governors, most New Jerseyans (65%) think another “Booker for President” campaign is likely. Currently, 41% of his constituents think the state’s junior U.S. senator would make a good president and 46% feel he would not.
“One of the differences between Murphy and Booker is that Booker has stayed on the national stage after his 2020 run, and there’s a natural inclination to feel that a senator has his eyes on the White House,” said Murray.
Posing another possible, if unlikely, political comeback in the Garden State, the poll asked residents how they would feel if Dr. Mehmet Oz –whose residency status was a drag on his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in Pennsylvania last year – returned to New Jersey and ran for public office here. Just 24% said they would like to see that happen, while a large majority (66%) would not.
“I have no idea if Oz is harboring any notions of using New Jersey as another political launching pad, but it doesn’t look like he’s got enough fuel to takeoff,” said Murray.
In other poll results, Booker receives a job rating of 54% approve and 31% disapprove among New Jersey adults, while the state’s senior U.S. senator, Bob Menendez, gets a divided 39% approve and 37% disapprove rating. Booker’s positive job marks among registered voters has been above 50% for the past three years, ranging between 51% and 57% (currently 52%). Voter approval for Menendez (38%), on the other hand, has dipped slightly from the 43% to 46% range recorded in Monmouth polling since 2020. Most of this decline is due to an increase in voters having no opinion of him (24%). Menendez’s current disapproval rating (38% among voters) remains within its recent range of 35% to 38%.
President Joe Biden earns a split decision on his job performance from New Jersey residents – 46% approve and 48% disapprove. Biden’s rating topped 50% in New Jersey during the first few months of his term, but has been consistently below that mark for more than a year. New Jersey’s state legislature receives a 44% approve and 37% disapprove rating, which is in line with ratings over the past two years, after a short-lived pandemic bump above 50% in 2020.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from January 5 to 9, 2023 with 809 New Jersey adults. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percentage points for the full sample. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.