Murphy’s Pandemic-High Ratings Ease; High Marks on Handling of the Pandemic Continue, Taxes Still a Sore Spot

Half of New Jerseyans say Garden State headed in right direction

Newswise — More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Murphy’s once-skyrocketing ratings have now returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Forty-seven percent of residents currently have a favorable impression of the Governor (down from 54 percent in October 2020), while 36 percent have an unfavorable one (up from 28 percent). Murphy garners slightly higher marks on his job performance: 55 percent approve of the job he is doing (down from 62 percent), versus 40 percent who disapprove (up from 33 percent).

“The ‘rally around the flag’ effect the pandemic has had on Governor Murphy’s ratings in the past year is inevitably coming to an end,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “But the Governor still garners the kind of ratings most politicians envy, especially in a reelection year and during an increasingly polarizing crisis and recovery process.”

On his first term report card, Murphy is a ‘C’ student, on average. When it comes to grading him overall, 15 percent of New Jerseyans give him an ‘A,’ 32 percent a ‘B,’ 20 percent a ‘C,’ 14 percent a ‘D,’ and 19 percent an ‘F.’

As for individual issues areas, Murphy gets his highest marks on his handling of the pandemic, with 31 percent of New Jerseyans continuing to give him an ‘A’ (a few points up from 26 percent in the fall), 23 percent a ‘B’ (down from 33 percent), 13 percent a ‘C’ (down from 17 percent), 10 percent a ‘D,’ and 23 percent an ‘F’ (up from 15 percent).

Murphy gets his next highest grades on the economy and education, followed by transportation and infrastructure, crime and drugs, and the state budget. The Governor’s lowest marks come from his handling of taxes: just 7 percent give him an ‘A,’ 20 percent a ‘B,’ 23 percent a ‘C,’ 19 percent a ‘D,’ and 31 percent an ‘F.’

“Governor Murphy earns higher marks, on average, than Governor Chris Christie received in each of these same areas at the end of his second term,” noted Koning.

Despite the pandemic, 52 percent of New Jerseyans say the state is headed in the right direction; 41 percent believe it has gone off on the wrong track.

“New Jerseyans’ outlook on the state has improved over the last few years,” said Koning. “These numbers were practically flipped back in 2019, when 44 percent of residents thought New Jersey was going in the right direction and 56 percent thought it was off on the wrong track.”

President Biden remains popular in the state: 56 percent of residents approve of the job he is doing as president, while 36 percent disapprove. Similarly, 55 percent have a favorable opinion of him, compared to 35 percent who have an unfavorable one. The President also gets high marks for his handling of the pandemic: 34 percent give him an ‘A,’ 22 percent a ‘B,’ 12 percent a ‘C,’ 10 percent a ‘D,’ and 22 percent an ‘F.’

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,004 adults contacted by live interviewers on landlines and cell phones from May 21–29. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

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