FDU Poll: First Lady’s Candidacy Harms Murphy’s Approval

NJ Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy are scheduled to speak at Senator Cory Booker's 2020 presidential campaign kickoff rally.

Governor Phil Murphy’s approval ratings remain relatively high, but there is trouble on the horizon. According to the latest results from the FDU Poll, First Lady Tammy Murphy’s campaign for the US Senate seat currently held by Bob Menendez is driving down Governor Murphy’s approval and driving up disapproval among independents and Republicans in the state.

In the poll of New Jersey residents, Murphy’s approval sits at 46 percent, in line with his numbers over the past year, which have fluctuated between 44 and 48 percent. Forty percent of residents say that they disapprove of the job he’s doing as Governor, a figure that’s also largely unchanged over the past year.

“The governor can’t run for re-election, but these numbers still matter,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at FDU, and the director of the poll. “High approval ratings give the governor leverage to get things done in Trenton; low approval means legislators may start to ignore him.”

The survey, which included a series of questions about this year’s Senate race in New Jersey, also included an experiment designed to measure the effect of First Lady Murphy’s candidacy on Governor Murphy’s approval. Half of respondents were randomly assigned to be asked about Murphy’s approval at the start of the survey (as is standard), while half were asked only after answering questions about the Senate race. The difference between the two groups reveals the effect of thinking about the Senate race on Murphy’s approval.

Overall, asking about the Senate race before asking about Murphy’s approval doesn’t impact his approval rating, but does increase his disapproval significantly, from 37 percent to 43 percent. The effect of the Senate race only becomes obvious when the data are broken down by party. While asking about the Senate race first marginally increases Murphy’s approval among Democrats (from 76 percent to 81 percent), it reduces it by 10 points among independents (from 42 percent to 32 percent), and 8 points among Republicans. It also increases disapproval by 12 points among Republicans and 21 points among independents (from 40 to 61 percent).

“Part of this is just linking the governor to national politics, rather than local issues, which is going to hurt him among independents and Republicans,” said Cassino. “But there also seems to be some resentment about the First Lady’s candidacy, and that could quickly drag the Governor down.”

In a sample of likely Democratic primary voters taken from the same poll, First Lady Tammy Murphy trails Democratic Congressman Andy Kim by 12 points, with Kim leading 32 to 20, and 31 percent still undecided. Sitting Senator Menendez has the support of 9 percent, and 8 percent of Democratic primary voters say that they’ll back labor activist Patricia Campos-Medina.

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The FDU Poll is in the top tier of polls nationwide. Poll aggregator Five Thirty-Eight has released its new rankings of polls ranking FDU 31st in the country, out of more than 500.

The rankings look at the error associated with a poll’s predictions and the degree to which the poll makes its methodology transparent. The FDU Poll scored high on both measures, with a pollscore accuracy ranking of -0.6 (lower figures represent less error and bias), and a transparency score of 8/10.

These scores are impressive when compared with other institutions. The overall ranking is better than that of many well-known polling groups like Gallup (35), Pew (38), SurveyMonkey (75) and Rasmussen (89).

Methodology

The survey was conducted between January 21 and January 28, 2024 out by Braun Research of Princeton, New Jersey. Most of the sample (777 respondents) were from a random digital dial sample of New Jersey residents; the remainder (238) were an oversample, taken from a list of adult New Jersey residents who have voted in previous New Jersey Democratic primary elections. Voter lists were obtained from Aristotle International of Washington, DC.  Weights were used to adjust the effective sample size to the appropriate level (872 respondents) and ensure that the oversample does not impact the overall representativeness of the sample.

201 of the surveys were carried out via live caller telephone interviews on landlines, 461 on live caller interviews to cell phones, and the remainder (353) were done on a web platform via weblinks sent via SMS to cell phones. Surveys were conducted only in English.

The data were weighted to be representative of the population of New Jersey residents, according to 2020 US Census data. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, education and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.4.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 872 New Jersey residents is +/-3.3 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-4.6 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects. While such errors are known to exist, they are often unquantifiable within a particular survey, and all efforts, such as randomization and extensive pre-testing of items, have been used to minimize them.

The FDU Poll is a member of the AAPOR Transparency Initiative and is devoted to ensuring that our results are presented in such a way that anyone can quickly and easily get all of the information that they may need to evaluate the validity of our surveys. We believe that transparency is the key to building trust in the work of high-quality public opinion research, and necessary to push our industry forward.

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

872 New Jersey Voters

Figures do not include individuals who declined to answer demographic items.

 

Man

49%                 N = 425

Woman

50%                 N = 434

Some Other Way

1%                  N = 7

 

18-29

16%           N = 136

30-44

30%                 N = 260

45-64

34%                 N = 294

65+

19%                 N = 169

 

White

55%           N = 480

Black

12%           N = 104

Hispanic/Latino/a

20%           N = 171

Asian

8%           N = 70

Other/Multi-racial

2%           N = 13

 

No college degree

55%           N = 481

College degree or more

44%           N = 378

 

Democrat

39%           N=339

Republican

31%           N=268

Independent

12%           N=105

Other

19%           N=162

 

Question Wording and Order

First off, we’d like to ask you a few questions about the government here in New Jersey.

[Half of Respondents get this item here, half get it after E6] NJ1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?

  1. Approve
  2. Disapprove
  3. Not Sure/Don’t Know [Vol]
  4. Refused [Vol]

 

Later this year, there will be a race for the Senate seat currently held by Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. A number of candidates have declared their interest in those seats, or might do so.

For each, we’d like to know if you’ve heard of them or not, and, if you have heard of them, how you’d rate them on different 1 to 10 scales, where you can pick any number between 1 and 10.

E1. Have you heard of [candidate]?

[E2-E4 only if they’ve heard of candidate]

E2. On a 1-10 scale, where 1 is very much dislike, and 10 is very much like, how much do you like [the candidate], or do you not know?

E3. On a scale where 1 is very feminine, and 10 is very masculine, how masculine or feminine do you think [the candidate] is, or do you not know?

E4. On a scale where 1 is very liberal, and 10 is very conservative, how liberal or conservative do you think [the candidate] is?

[Shuffle order of candidates]

  1. Democratic Congressman Andy Kim
  2. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez
  3. Democratic First Lady Tammy Murphy
  4. Democratic Labor Activist Patricia Campos-Medina

D1. In politics today, do you consider yourself a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or something else?

  1. Democrat
  2. Republican
  3. Independent  [ASK D1A]
  4. Something Else/Other
  5. DK/Ref [vol]

D1A. [Ask only if D1 is 3] Which way do you lean?

  1. Democrat
  2. Republican
  3. Independent
  4. Something Else/Other
  5. DK/Ref  [vol]

D1B. In addition, which of the following terms would you use to describe your political views? You can choose as many as you like. [Shuffle Order]

  1. Liberal
  2. Moderate
  3. Conservative
  4. Socialist
  5. Progressive
  6. Libertarian
  7. America First
  8. Nationalist

E5. [Only Dems] Later this year, there will be a Democratic primary election for the US Senate seat currently held by Bob Menendez. Who do you think you’ll support in that primary election, if the race were between…

  1. Democratic Congressman Andy Kim
  2. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez
  3. Democratic First Lady Tammy Murphy
  4. Or would you not vote?
  5. Don’t Know/Ref [vol]

 

[Shuffle Order of General Election Match-Up Qs]

E5. [Shuffle Order of Candidates] Suppose that November’s election for Senate were between Andy Kim, the Democrat, and Christine Serrano Glassner, the Republican. Would you vote for the Democrat, Kim, the Republican, Glassner, or would you not vote?

  1. Democrat Kim
  2. Republican Glassner
  3. Would not vote
  4. Don’t Know/Refused [vol]

 

E6. [Shuffle Order of Candidates] Suppose that November’s election for Senate were between Tammy Murphy, the Democrat, and Christine Serrano Glassner, the Republican. Would you vote for the Democrat, Murphy, the Republican, Glassner, or would you not vote?

  1. Democrat Murphy
  2. Republican Glassner
  3. Would not vote
  4. Don’t Know/Refused [vol]

 

[Half of Respondents get this item here, half get it as the first item] NJ1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?

  1. Approve
  2. Disapprove
  3. Not Sure/Don’t Know [Vol]
  4. Refused [Vol]

 

Further Questions Held for Future Release

Release Tables

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?
  24-Jan 23-Oct 23-May 23-Feb 22-Oct
Approve 46% 44% 44% 48% 40%
Disapprove 40% 37% 39% 36% 42%
[Vol] don’t Know/Not Sure/Refused 14% 19% 14% 16% 18%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?
  Overall Dem Indp Rep
Approve 46% 79% 38% 13%
Disapprove 40% 7% 49% 78%
[Vol] don’t Know/Not Sure/Refused 14% 14% 13% 8%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?
  Overall Asked Before Asked After
Approve 46% 46% 45%
Disapprove 40% 37% 43%
[Vol] don’t Know/Not Sure/Refused 14% 17% 12%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?
  Democrats Democrats Only
    Asked Before Asked After
Approve 79% 76% 81%
Disapprove 7% 10% 5%
[Vol] don’t Know/Not Sure/Refused 14% 14% 14%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?
  Independents Independents Only
    Asked Before Asked After
Approve 38% 42% 32%
Disapprove 49% 40% 61%
[Vol] don’t Know/Not Sure/Refused 13% 18% 7%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?
  Republicans Republicans Only
    Asked Before Asked After
Approve 13% 17% 9%
Disapprove 78% 72% 84%
[Vol] don’t Know/Not Sure/Refused 8% 11% 7%

 

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2 responses to “FDU Poll: First Lady’s Candidacy Harms Murphy’s Approval”

  1. The FDU poll is obviously a left-wing poll and has been for decades. The director of the poll says the Governor’s approval rating has been a stable 46%. By whose measurement??? Talk to any New Jerseyan–both Republican or Democrat, and even Independents–and they’ll tell you they don’t approve of Murphy’s handling of the economy/budget, the windmill farms off of the coast that’s killing whales, porpoises and birds, the failed “Green Raw Deal” in the state, trying to mandate a failed EV push for 2030 (when Governor Moron isn’t even going to be in office in NJ), pushing a failed CO emissions standard that is impossible to meet, lying about “climate change” affecting us when the opposite is true (more CO2 is good for more plants and making desert areas more GREEN), and Governor KNUCKLEHEAD’S continuing push to raise taxes without cutting “deadwood” government employees and agencies like the MVC, Child Support Enforcement, Unemployment Dept., DEP, etc.

    Let’s not forget that Governor KNUCKLEHEAD took office with a $29 BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET from Gov. Chris Christie. Murphy has turned that Budget into a $54 BILLION DOLLAR BOONDOGGLE (doubled the budget in less than 8 years). Where has all of this money gone; especially after raising the gasoline taxes to the 4th highest in the nation–from the 4th lowest–and using the $2 BILLION DOLLARS from it to fix the roads and bridges?????? The roads are still a moonscape in New Jersey, and the bridges are still rotting and rusting out. With Democrat-Communists in office, you have massive stealing and theft going on, and everyone plays stupid when you start investigating where the money went. This is called a racketeering enterprise, when you’re involved in bribery, extortion, theft, and in this case, taxpayer fraud!!!!! Any wonder why New Jerseyans don’t want another “Murphy” in NJ politics?!?!?!?!?!

    The problem is, is that Governor Phil KNUCKLEHEAD Murphy and his wife want her to be coronated. The problem is, is that they are D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T-S. Democrats are Socialist and Communists, hell bent on ruining the state and nation, and running it into the ground. We don’t need Democrats anymore. They are lying Communists who want nothing more than to destroy everyone’s lives, take their property and put everyone into poverty. If not, then why are they catering to illegal aliens (from over 160 different countries) who are all coming from socialist or communist tyrannies, and treating real Americans as 3rd class citizens?????? Why is New Jersey spending $4 BILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR on illegal aliens at the expense of NJ taxpayers???? Not only is this treasonous and seditious, it’s called tax fraud and it’s criminal behavior by irresponsible and traitorous politicians.

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