FDU Poll: Murphy’s Job Approval at 45%

Murphy campaigns in Morris County.

Voters are likely to support the Democratic party in the state’s upcoming Assembly elections, and despite the fear that national forces are influencing local and state elections, a “Trump effect” is not showing up in the New Jersey electorate. In other news, Governor Phil Murphy continues to struggle with middling approval ratings as he approaches the halfway point in his tenure.

The most recent statewide survey of adults in New Jersey from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll finds Democratic party candidates for November’s election with an edge over Republicans. Among self-identified registered voters who say they definitely plan to vote in November’s election, 42 percent say they intend to support Democratic party candidates in their district. Around a third (29%) will be supporting Republican candidates, and 18 percent will split the difference and support both parties.

“November’s election is a pretty low information contest, which means party identification is likely to drive those rare few who actually turn out to vote,” said Krista Jenkins, the poll’s director and a professor of politics and government at FDU. “Democrats have the edge among women and non-whites, while Republicans appeal more to men and white voters.”

A “Trump effect” is not present among likely voters. Voters were asked about the president, including his job performance, state of the nation, and whether he should be impeached in the House of Representatives (see here for press releases with detailed findings) either before or after their voting intentions in November. Differences in support for Democratic or Republican candidates among those asked about President Trump before being asked about November’s elections are not statistically different from the preferences expressed among those asked about the president after indicating their voting preferences in November.

“We have elections in off-years in order to at least try to keep voters’ minds on more local issues. Although that is increasingly hard to do these days, New Jersey voters don’t appear to be swayed by their feelings regarding the president and his troubles that is defining so much of our discourse,” said Jenkins.

Governor Murphy

As for Governor Murphy, little has changed since the last time the FDU Poll asked about his job approval or the direction of the state under his watch. Among all adults, he garners the support of 45 percent with 37 percent who say they disapprove of his job performance so far. These numbers are largely unchanged from where they were in May, and generally in line with how the public has rated him since he took the oath of office in 2018.

Right direction/wrong track numbers are also trending stable, although the percentage of adults who say the state is moving in the wrong direction is down considerably from February when the same question was last asked. Back then, over half (58%) said the state was on the wrong track, while today that number is down to 42 percent. In February, 42 percent said the state appeared on solid footing, and today that number is at 45 percent.

“It looks like Governor Murphy will continue to have one-party rule in the state. But, apparently, that hasn’t been enough to help him break free of the approval numbers that have kept him largely beneath a majority approval threshold,” said Jenkins.



The survey was conducted by live callers on both landlines and cellular phones between September 26 through October 2, 2019, with a scientifically selected random sample of 801 New Jersey adults, 18 or older. Persons without a telephone could not be included in the random selection process. Respondents within a household are selected by asking randomly for the youngest adult currently available. The interview was conducted in English and included 253 adults reached on a landline phone and 548 adults reached on a cell phone, all acquired through random digit dialing.

The data were weighted to be representative of the non-institutionalized adult population of New Jersey. The weighting balanced sample demographics to target population parameters. The sample is balanced to match parameters for sex, age, education, race/ethnicity, region and phone use. The sex, age, education, race/ethnicity and region parameters were derived from 2017 American Community Survey PUMS data. The phone use parameter was derived from estimates provided by the National Health Interview Survey Early Release Program.

Weighting was done in two stages. The first stage of weighting corrected for different probabilities of selection associated with the number of adults in each household and each respondent’s telephone usage patterns. This adjustment also accounts for the overlapping landline and cell sample frames and the relative sizes of each frame and each sample. This first stage weight was applied to the entire sample which included all adults.

The second stage of the weighting balanced sample demographics to match target population benchmarks. This weighting was accomplished using SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis ensures that the demographic characteristics of the sample closely approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population.

Effects of Sample Design on Statistical Analysis

Post-data collection statistical adjustments require analysis procedures that reflect departures from simple random sampling. We calculate the effects of these design features so that an appropriate adjustment can be incorporated into tests of statistical significance when using these data. The so-called “design effect” or deff represents the loss in statistical efficiency that results from a disproportionate sample design and systematic non-response. The total sample design effect for this study is 1.27.

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 801 New Jersey adults is +/-3.9 percentage points (including the design effect) at a 95 percent confidence interval. Thus, if 50 percent of New Jersey adults in this sample favor a particular position, we would be 95 percent sure that the true figure is between 46.1 and 53.9 percent (50 +/- 3.9) if all New Jersey adults had been interviewed, rather than just a sample.

Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question-wording, or context effects.

This telephone survey was fielded by Braun Research, Inc. with a sample from Dynata.

The sample was purchased from Marketing Systems Group and the research was funded by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

801 New Jersey Adults

Male    48%  N = 378 (+/-5%)

Female    52%  N = 423 (+/-5%)

18-29    17%  N = 143 (+/-8%)

30-49    36%  N = 264 (+/-6%)

50-64    26%  N = 196 (+/-7%)

65+    20%  N = 198 (+/-7%)

Democrat (with leaners)  46%  N = 370 (+/-5%)

Independent   27%  N = 196 (+/-7%)

Republican (with leaners) 27%  N = 220 (+/-7%)

White    58%  N = 534 (+/-4%)

Black    13%  N = 90 (+/-9%)

Hispanic   19%  N = 111(+/-9%)

Other    10%  N = 48 (+/-14%)

Likely voters   58%  N = 462 (+/-5%)

For the third time, the FDU Poll received an “A” rating from statistician Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. The ratings measure both accuracy and bias for all major polling services in the United States, providing an update to similar research the poll watchers conducted in 2016. FDU’s “A” rating puts it in the top 18 of the 396 polling institutes reviewed and graded from A+ through F.

Question wording and order:

LV1 Are you currently registered to vote at this address?

1 Yes    [Ask LV2]

2 No    [Go to US1]

8 DK (vol)    [Go to US1]

9 Refused (vol)   [Go to US1]


LV2 The state of New Jersey is having elections in November to elect representatives to our legislature. How much thought have you given to the upcoming election?

1 Quite a lot

2 Some

3 Only a little

4 None

8 DK (vol)

9 Refused (vol)


LV3 How often would you say you vote?

1 Always

2 Nearly always

3 Part of the time

4 Seldom

8 DK (vol)

9 Refused (vol)


LV4 Please rate your chances of voting in November on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning you’ll definitely vote, and 1 meaning you definitely will not vote.


88 DK (vol)

99 Refused (vol)




LV5 In your state legislative district for the Assembly, will you be voting for the Republican or Democratic [ROTATE] candidates, a combination of both, or candidates from another party?

1 Republican

2 Democratic

3 Candidates from another party

4 Some combination of both

8 DK (vol)

9 Refused (vol)


US1-US3 released October 8, 2019


NJ1. And turning to New Jersey, do you approve or disapprove [ROTATE] of the job Phil

Murphy is doing as governor?

1 Approve

2 Disapprove

8 DK

9 Refused (vol)


And turning to New Jersey, do you approve or disapprove [rotate] of the job Phil Murphy is doing as governor?



NJ2.  In your opinion, do you think things in New Jersey are moving in the right direction or are they on the wrong track [ROTATE]?

1 Right direction

2 Wrong track

8 DK

9 Refused (vol)


In your opinion, do you think things in New Jersey are moving in the right direction or are they on the wrong track [rotate]?
Right direction
Wrong track



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