Bridge scandal hurting Christie more locally than nationally

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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If voters are going to desert New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal, the bleeding has not yet started nationwide like it has in New Jersey, according to two polls released Monday.

A Pew Research Center national survey in the days following the eruption of the scandal found that 60 percent of people say their opinion about Christie had not changed. Sixteen percent said it has given them a less favorable opinion of him, six percent said their opinion of him has grown more favorable, and 18 percent said they are not sure.

That unchanged opinion was true for people across the political spectrum: 69 percent of Republicans said their opinion remains unchanged, compared to 10 percent who said it has become less favorable.

Sixty percent of independents said their opinion remains the same, while 14 percent said view him less favorably. Christie took the biggest hit with Democrats: 25 percent said they now view him less favorably, and 55 percent said their opinion has not changed.

The Pew poll was conducted beginning Jan. 9, the day after documents were published revealing close involvement by top Christie aides in closing several lanes of the George Washington Bridge, gridlocking Fort Lee, possibly as retribution against the mayor for not endorsing Christie’s re-election bid. The survey ran through Jan. 12 and surveyed 1,006 adults nationwide.

Of course, Just 18 percent said they have paid close attention to the Christie story.

On a more local level, a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll found that Christie’s approval rating among New Jersey residents has fallen since December, from 65 percent to 59 percent.

Republicans in New Jersey still give him high marks for his job performance — his approval rating actually rose from 85 percent to 89 percent. Among independents, his approval rating has fallen from 73 percent to 62 percent; among Democrats, he is down to 38 percent from 47 percent.

But while Pew found that nationwide, just 18 percent of respondents said they were focused on the scandal, 83 percent of New Jersey residents said they were paying attention.

On a personal level, voters’ opinions of Christie are fraying: 44 percent say they have a favorable opinion of him personally, and 28 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Last year, 70 percent had a positive view, and 19 percent had a negative opinion.

Moreover, 51 percent said they believed Christie has not told the full truth about his own knowledge of the bridge shutdown, and 80 percent said they expect that more members of his staff will be implicated in the plot.

The Monmouth poll surveyed 541 adults in New Jersey from Jan. 10 through Jan. 12. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Since Christie’s next campaign seems likely to be for president, national indifference thus far could be a good thing for him. On the other hand, his opponents could have a number of attack lines to bring out when people start tuning in around election time.

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