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Monmouth University Poll: Murphy Holds a 43% Job Approval Rating

Polling shows most support a minimum wage hike, but no clear “winners” in agenda so far

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy earns a split decision on his job performance so far, according to today’s Monmouth University Poll. While public opinion tends to be more negative than positive about his agenda’s impact on property tax payers and the middle class, views are divided on whether he has helped poorer residents of the state. The poll finds widespread support for the recently enacted minimum wage hike, but the public is largely unaware of other issues, including legislative hearings into the administration’s hiring practices and the governor’s relationship with legislative leaders.

Currently, 43% of New Jersey adults approve of the job Murphy is doing as governor, which is similar to the 44% rating he earned in April 2018.  However, his current 40% disapprove rating is higher than the 28% negative rating he received last year.  Another 17% have no opinion of the governor, down from 28%.  Murphy’s current rating is less positive than his two immediate predecessors at the same point in their terms.  A February 2011 Monmouth Poll gave then-Governor Chris Christie a 47% approve to 40% disapprove rating and a February 2007 Monmouth poll gave then-Governor Jon Corzine a 44% approve to 34% disapprove rating. Murphy, is doing better than Jim McGreevey, though – a February 2003 Eagleton poll gave the then-governor a 34% approve to 45% disapprove rating.

“It shouldn’t be a shock that Republicans and conservative-leaning unaffiliated voters are hardening their opposition to Governor Murphy given his steadfast support for policies that benefit working families and the middle class,” said New Jersey Democratic State Committee spokesman Phil Swibinski.
“More significant is the Governor’s massive popularity and practically nonexistent negatives among New Jersey’s constantly growing Democratic electorate. Governor Murphy’s +56% favorability rating among Democrats in this poll and the strong support it shows for the landmark $15 Minimum Wage law that the Governor championed shows that his agenda is being well received by Democratic voters. The more Democrats learn about Governor Murphy, the more they like and that will continue as he keeps working to make the state stronger and fairer for everyone.”

Murphy’s rating among political independents has flipped since last year – he currently holds a net negative 39% approve and 43% disapprove rating with this group compared to a net positive 41% approve and 33% disapprove rating in April 2018.  Republicans have become more negative – 11% approve and 85% disapprove now, compared with 17% – 59% last year.  Democrats, on the other hand, are largely positive, but a sizable percentage say they still have no opinion of Murphy’s job performance after one year on the job. Currently, the governor earns a 66% approve and 9% disapprove rating from his fellow Democrats, which is nearly identical to his 65% approve and 7% disapprove rating in April 2018.  Fully 1-in-4 Democrats (25%), though, do not have an opinion of the governor, which is similar to the number from last year (28%).

“Murphy started his term with greater public goodwill than his recent predecessors, but he has now fallen behind them.  The most troubling result may be the large number of his fellow Democrats who continue to take a wait-and-see attitude.  It seems he has yet to score a defining win with his base despite spending a significant amount of energy pushing a progressive agenda,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

One signature achievement for the Murphy administration has been enacting a minimum wage hike. Two-in-three New Jerseyans (66%) approve of the move which will increase the minimum wage for most workers to $15 an hour by 2024.  Just 29% oppose it.  However, other poll results suggest that the governor has yet to win voter sentiment on the benefits of his agenda overall.

Murphy has cast a particular focus on building a “fair economy” for those who have been left behind, but he currently gets mixed reviews for how his policies have affected poorer residents. While 27% say his policies have helped the poor, a similar 28% say they have actually hurt this group and 27% say they have had no impact.  Expectations were slightly higher last April when 38% of the public expected that Murphy’s policies would help poor residents of the state while 29% expected his policies would hurt this group.  Transit riders are another constituency for whom the governor’s policies receive mixed reviews. Just 14% say Murphy has helped transit riders, 25% say his policies have hurt them, and 23% say there has been no impact. Last year, 28% expected his policies would help transit riders and 19% said they would hurt this group.

The poll also finds that few New Jerseyans feel the middle class – property tax payers in particular – have benefitted from Murphy’s time as governor. Just 18% say Murphy’s policies have helped middle class residents in the state. More than twice as many (39%) say his policies have hurt the middle class, while 27% say his policies have had no impact on this group. Ratings are even lower for property tax payers; only 6% say Murphy’s policies have helped this group while nearly half (48%) say they have been hurt by his policies. Another 29% say property tax payers have felt no impact either way from Murphy’s policies.  These results are in line with New Jerseyans’ expectations for how his policies would affect these groups according to Monmouth’s April 2018 poll.

Garden State residents are divided on whether wealthy residents have been helped (22%), hurt (21%), or felt no impact (30%) from Murphy’s policies. There is somewhat more negativity regarding the administration’s effect on businesses in the state – 20% say businesses have been helped by Murphy’s policies and 33% say they have been hurt, with 24% who say state businesses have felt no impact either way.  The results for wealthy residents are in line with expectations last year although the current findings for Murphy’s impact on businesses are slightly less positive than expectations last April.

 “New Jersey residents don’t seem to have a clear read on Phil Murphy. A key question is whether the public feels he is truly focused on his current job. It wasn’t too long ago that the state felt burned by his predecessor’s political ambitions.  That’s worth keeping in mind as Murphy’s national profile with the Democratic Governors Association is on the rise,” said Murray.

Currently, more New Jerseyans feel that Murphy is more concerned with his own political future (46%) than he is with governing the state (33%).  Another 4% say he is concerned with both equally and 16% are unsure where his focus lies.  This perception was evenly divided last April when 39% said Murphy was more concerned with his future and 40% said he was more concerned with the state.

Nearly half the public (45%) name property taxes when asked to identify the most important issues facing New Jersey, far surpassing any other issue on the top of residents’ minds.  About 1-in-4 name other taxes, such as income (9%), sales (6%), or taxes in general (8%). Other issues mentioned include the economy and cost of living (16%), jobs (11%), transportation and infrastructure (10%), public education (9%), health care (9%), crime, drugs, and guns (8%), illegal immigration (7%), marijuana legalization (7%), housing (6%), government spending (6%), and the environment (4%). These results are basically in line with polls taken over the past two years.  Independents (50%) and Republicans (49%) are more likely than Democrats (33%) to mention property taxes as one of the top issues facing New Jersey.  People of color (20%) are more likely than non-Hispanic white residents (6%) to mention jobs.

“Surprise! Property taxes continue to be the issue that irks the largest number of New Jerseyans. It seems the governor and legislative leaders are at odds in terms of what, if anything, should be done. The solution may not be clear, but it’s certainly not a good idea to be perceived as ignoring the problem entirely,” said Murray.

The governor’s uncertain relationship with legislative leadership has been the talk of Trenton insiders but hasn’t made much of an impression among the broader public. Currently, 20% say Murphy has a good relationship with top Democrats in the legislature and 19% say he has a bad relationship, but most (54%) have not heard anything about this.  The state legislature as a whole receives a 37% approve and 42% disapprove rating from New Jersey residents, which is in line with results from Monmouth’s poll last April.

The Murphy administration’s hiring of someone who was accused of rape while working on the governor’s 2017 campaign is another issue that has kept the State House abuzz but has barely made a dent in the public consciousness.  Just 4-in-10 New Jerseyans (41%) have heard anything about the legislative hearings into this situation. Interestingly, Republicans (61%) are more likely than Democrats (37%) or independents (37%) to have tuned into this.  Among those who have heard something about the hearings – keeping in mind that this group is less than half of all state residents – 68% say that the administration mishandled the hiring, while just 12% feel the hiring was handled properly based on what was known at the time.  On the point that we still do not know exactly who authorized the hiring, just over half of those aware of the hearings (51%) think that the Murphy administration is trying to cover something up, while 34% think the administration is really unsure about how the hiring occurred.

“The legislature’s focus on this situation certainly hasn’t helped the governor’s standing, but I’m not convinced this is the primary reason for Murphy’s rising negatives. The public seems to be a little hazy on his core aims and he has yet to sew up base support among his fellow Democrats,” said Murray.

Monmouth University conducted its poll by telephone from February 8 to 10, 2019 with 604 New Jersey adults.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                             

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)         

 

[Q1 held for future release.]

2.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job Phil Murphy is doing as governor?



TREND: All adults

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Approve

43%

44%

Disapprove

40%

28%

(VOL) No opinion

17%

28%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 



TREND: Registered voters

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Approve

42%

43%

Disapprove

43%

30%

(VOL) No opinion

16%

27%

   (n)

(549)

(632)

 

3.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job the state legislature is doing?



TREND: All adults

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Approve

37%

36%

Disapprove

42%

39%

(VOL) No opinion

21%

24%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

TREND: Registered voters

Feb.
2019

April
2018

July 2017

May
2016

July.
2015

May
2015

Feb.
2015

Sept.
2014

June
2014

April
2014

Feb.
2014

Jan.
2014

Approve

35%

34%

23%

29%

32%

33%

37%

35%

36%

38%

38%

47%

Disapprove

45%

42%

62%

53%

51%

48%

46%

46%

48%

46%

47%

35%

(VOL) No opinion

20%

24%

15%

19%

17%

19%

17%

19%

17%

15%

14%

18%

   (n)

(549)

(632)

(758)

(703)

(453)

(441)

(712)

(680)

(717)

(690)

(690)

(470)

 

TREND: Registered voters
continued

Dec.
2013

Sept.
2013

April
2013

Feb.
2013

Dec.
2012

Sept.
2012

July
2012

April
2012

Feb.
2012

Oct.
2011

Aug.
2011

May
2011

Feb.
2011

Sept.
2010

July
2010

April
2010

Feb.
2010

Approve

44%

38%

41%

40%

69%

55%

53%

50%

55%

55%

50%

46%

49%

44%

45%

42%

31%

Disapprove

38%

36%

42%

35%

22%

36%

35%

38%

37%

37%

41%

49%

41%

40%

43%

44%

15%

(VOL) No opinion

19%

27%

17%

25%

9%

10%

12%

12%

9%

8%

8%

5%

9%

16%

12%

13%

53%

   (n)

(698)

(674)

(694)

(697)

(726)

(715)

(678)

(692)

(709)

(693)

(730)

(725)

(718)

(726)

(747)

(719)

(716)

 

TREND: Registered voters
continued

July
2009

Feb.
2009

Sept.
2008

July
2008

April
2008

March
2008

Oct.
2007

Feb.
2007

Approve

31%

23%

29%

27%

28%

25%

32%

34%

Disapprove

48%

55%

50%

47%

55%

53%

43%

42%

(VOL) No opinion

22%

22%

21%

26%

17%

22%

25%

23%

   (n)

(792)

(721)

(709)

(889)

(720)

(719)

(688)

(681)

 

[Q4-6 held for future release.]

 

7.     In your opinion, what are the most important one or two issues facing the state of New Jersey right now? [LIST WAS NOT READ. IF “TAXES” MENTIONED, INTERVIEWER ASKED FOR SPECIFIC TYPE.] [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted.]

TREND: 

Feb.
2019

April
2018

July
2017

December
2013

December
2012

February
2012

July
2009*

Property taxes

45%

45%

48%

25%

31%

42%

45%

Income tax

9%

9%

8%

7%

6%

8%

7%

Sales tax

6%

8%

7%

2%

3%

4%

4%

Other tax, general taxes

8%

8%

5%

12%

6%

3%

5%

Jobs

11%

14%

14%

35%

30%

42%

18%

Economy, cost of living

16%

14%

10%

10%

19%

19%

27%

State budget, govt. spending

6%

7%

8%

4%

5%

8%

18%

Education/public schools

9%

16%

14%

21%

10%

20%

12%

Higher education

1%

3%

3%

3%

2%

3%

n/a

Transportation, infrastructure

10%

14%

10%

2%

3%

2%

1%

Environment

4%

4%

4%

2%

2%

1%

2%

Health insurance, care

9%

6%

10%

11%

8%

5%

18%

Crime, guns, drugs

8%

12%

9%

6%

4%

5%

2%

Public pensions/benefits

1%

3%

5%

2%

2%

2%

n/a

Housing

6%

5%

6%

3%

2%

1%

n/a

Illegal immigration

7%

7%

3%

1%

1%

1%

2%

Auto insurance

0%

1%

3%

0%

1%

1%

n/a

Legalize marijuana

7%

5%

2%

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Opioid crisis

2%

4%

2%

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Other

9%

8%

12%

17%+

27%+

8%

11%

Nothing/no answer

4%

4%

3%

4%

4%

4%

3%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

(800)

(802)

(816)

(803)

(792)

           [*July 2009 question for registered voters only: was “In your opinion, what are the most important one or two issues that the candidates for governor should talk about?”   + “Other” includes Superstorm Sandy recovery.]

 

8.     Do you think Phil Murphy is more concerned with governing the state of New Jersey or more concerned about his own political future? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]

TREND:

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Governing the state of NJ

33%

40%

His own political future

46%

39%

(VOL) Both equally

4%

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

16%

18%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

9.   As far as you know, do Governor Murphy and the Democratic leaders in the legislature have a good or bad working relationship, or haven’t you heard anything about this? 

 

Feb.
2019

Good relationship

20%

Bad relationship

19%

Not heard anything

54%

(VOL) Don’t know

7%

   (n)

(604)

 

10.   I’d like to get your opinion on how Governor Murphy’s policies have affected different groups of New Jerseyans. Have his policies helped, hurt, or had no impact on [READ ITEM]?

[ITEMS WERE ROTATED]  [Note: In April 2018, poll question asked “how Governor Murphy’s policies will affect different groups…”]

 

Middle class residents

TREND:

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Help

18%

26%

Hurt

39%

41%

No impact

27%

17%

(VOL) Both help and hurt

1%

2%

(VOL) Don’t know

15%

14%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

Poor residents

TREND:

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Help

27%

38%

Hurt

28%

29%

No impact

27%

14%

(VOL) Both help and hurt

1%

2%

(VOL) Don’t know

18%

17%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

Wealthy residents

TREND:

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Help

22%

24%

Hurt

21%

29%

No impact

30%

30%

(VOL) Both help and hurt

1%

1%

(VOL) Don’t know

26%

17%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

Property tax payers

TREND:

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Help

6%

17%

Hurt

48%

51%

No impact

29%

14%

(VOL) Both help and hurt

1%

1%

(VOL) Don’t know

16%

17%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

Transit riders

TREND:

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Help

14%

28%

Hurt

25%

19%

No impact

23%

18%

(VOL) Both help and hurt

1%

1%

(VOL) Don’t know

37%

34%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

Businesses

TREND:

Feb.
2019

April
2018

Help

20%

30%

Hurt

33%

33%

No impact

24%

15%

(VOL) Both help and hurt

1%

1%

(VOL) Don’t know

21%

21%

   (n)

(604)

(703)

 

11.   New Jersey recently raised the minimum wage so that it will gradually go up to $15 an hour for most workers over the next five years. Have you heard about this or not?

 

Feb.
2019

Heard

94%

Not heard

6%

   (n)

(604)

 

12.   Do you approve or disapprove of New Jersey raising the minimum wage to $15 for most workers?

 

Feb.
2019

Approve

66%

Disapprove

29%

(VOL) Don’t know

5%

   (n)

(604)

 

[Q13-17 held for future release.]

 

18.    Have you heard anything about legislative hearings on the Murphy administration’s hiring of someone who was accused of rape while he was working on the Murphy campaign in 2017, or haven’t you heard about this?

 

Feb.
2019

Heard

41%

Not heard 

59%

   (n)

(604)

 

[Questions 19A/19B were asked only of those who HAVE HEARD of the hearings: n=282, moe=+/-5.8%]

19A.  Based on the information they had at the time, do you think the Murphy administration handled this hiring properly or did they mishandle it?

Among those aware:

Feb.
2019

Handled this hiring properly

12%

Mishandled the hiring

68%

(VOL) Don’t know

19%

   (n)

(282)

 

19B.  As you may know it is still not clear who authorized the hiring. Do you think people in the Murphy administration are trying to cover something up or is the administration really unsure about what happened with this hiring during the transition period?

Among those aware:

Feb.
2019

Trying to cover something up

51%

Unsure about what happened

34%

(VOL) Both

2%

(VOL) Don’t know

13%

   (n)

(282)

 

[Q20-37 held for future release.]

 

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from February 8 to 10, 2019 with a random sample of 604 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 301 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 303 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

 

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

Self-Reported

20% Republican

45% Independent

34% Democrat

 

48% Male

52% Female

 

29% 18-34

37% 35-54

34% 55+

 

58% White

13% Black

18% Hispanic

10% Asian/Other

 

64% No college degree

36% College graduate

 

 

MARGIN OF ERROR

unweighted  sample

moe

(+/-)

TOTAL

 

604

4.0%

REGISTERED VOTER

Yes

549

4.2%

 

No

55

13.2%

SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID

Republican

135

8.4%

Independent

257

6.1%

Democrat

196

7.0%

GENDER

Male

300

5.7%

Female

304

5.6%

AGE

18-34

152

8.0%

35-54

225

6.5%

55+

226

6.5%

RACE

White non-Hispanic

386

5.0%

Other

190

7.1%

COLLEGE GRADUATE

No degree

264

6.0%

 

4 year degree

335

5.4%

INCOME

<$50K

110

9.4%

$50 to <100K

194

7.0%

$100K+

240

6.3%

REGION

North

270

6.0%

 

Central

163

7.7%

 

South

154

7.9%

 

###

 

 

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  • Martha Bartha

    Will he tax the fuckin poll?

  • Jamestroy

    Bogus poll! Who’d they contact, All Democratic voters????

  • Robert Knapp

    GOVERNOR MURPHY 100% APPROVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ryan Quinn

    I still have yet to meet anyone who likes the man. Furthermore, every Democrat I know literally hides in shame when people mention his name. There is no way his approval rating is that high. Did they call his relatives or something?

  • 1Prop

    He’s really Corzine II. Now he wants to “monetize” state assets. Sound familiar? I guess they teach that at the Goldman Sachs Academy. The 43% who approve of him are who will be left after the 57% of us in the middle class are taxed out of the state.

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