November 15, 2018 | Number of The Day
Percentage of New Jerseyans who approve of job Gov. Phil Murphy is doing

Closing in on a year in office, Gov. Phil Murphy gets more positive than negative ratings from New Jerseyans although many have yet to make their minds up about him.

According to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, 43 percent approve of the job the governor’s doing while 28 percent disapprove. But, Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, notes that residents evince “indecision on Murphy,” something that’s in “an especially stark contrast to Chris Christie — a governor about which virtually everyone had an opinion. Residents are in fact more uncertain about Murphy’s job performance and likeability than they have ever been about almost any other governor besides Governors DiFrancesco and Florio.”

The poll found that 42 percent remain undecided about him personally while a fair share still can’t make their minds up about his job performance (29 percent).

Residents grade Murphy well for his work on transportation and infrastructure (46 percent approve, 28 percent disapprove). They also view favorably his efforts on education and schools (44 percent approve, 31 percent disapprove), and on crime and drugs (40 percent approve, 29 percent disapprove).

The governor doesn’t do so well on healthcare, a high-stress issue for so many residents (37 percent approve, 30 percent disapprove). And he scores poorly for his work on state finances; only 26 percent approve of his handling of the state pension fund, 28 percent approve of his approach to taxes, and 30 percent approve of his work on the state budget. Those views of how Murphy has handled financial matters might raise a red flag in Murphyland, given poll respondents also indicated that the issue of taxes remains their top item of concern; 28 percent cite taxes as the state’s biggest problem, and another 9 percent specifically mention property taxes.

Still, the governor probably will be comforted by the poll’s finding that, by a tiny margin — and for the first time in four years — New Jerseyans believe the state is headed in the right direction (46 percent) as against those who say it is on the wrong track (45 percent).