As Gov. Murphy updated snow and ice preparation on Tuesday, a new survey showed frozen job approval ratings for the progressive Democrat.
The recent Monmouth Poll said 43 percent of Jersey residents like the job Murphy’s doing as governor — that’s almost identical to his 44 percent rating from last April. But Murphy’s negatives are breaking bad: 40 percent disapprove now, compared to just 28 percent who turned thumbs down on Murphy’s job rating last spring. Among “undecideds,” 17 percent had no opinion — down from 28 percent.
“And that says, people say, ‘Hmm. I didn’t have an opinion of Murphy right now, but I’m moving in the negative direction because I’m not sure exactly what he stands for,'” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “That’s a trend that should be worrying for him right now.”
Senior Correspondent David Cruz asked the governor point blank: “Why can’t anybody like you?”
“Love the premise of that,” responded Murphy. “I can’t speak to the Monmouth Poll, but we don’t run our government based on polling. So whatever it says, good or bad, whether it’s really good, or challenging or somewhere in between, we try to call balls and strikes to do what we were sent here to do,” responded Murphy.
New Jersey GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt claimed, Murphy’s poll numbers show Jerseyans are “coming to terms with the fact that his pie in the sky rhetoric isn’t putting food on the table. Taxes are up, the economy is down, and Democratic infighting has deprived New Jersey of any clear direction or meaningful accomplishments.”
In terms of Democrats, the poll showed that, while 66 percent of them like the job he’s doing — 9 percent don’t — fully 25 percent don’t have an opinion. Like Newark resident Danielle Andrews.
“‘Cause I don’t see anything positive, like, moving yet,” Andrews said. “No results, I don’t see nothing impacting me.”
“In this day and age, you should be 85, 90 percent approval among your base is considered the norm,” Murray said. “And he doesn’t have that because they’re kind of hanging back and saying, ‘I’m not even sure what his agenda is, and how that affects me as a Democrat.'”
On issues, the poll did show 66 percent of New Jerseyans do applaud the new $15 minimum wage law. 29 percent don’t.
“That’s great. That’s good to hear. That’s a good piece of news we believe that minimum wage contributes both to a stronger and a fairer New Jersey,” Murphy said.
The poll points to one other troubling number for Murphy — 46 percent believe he’s more focused on his political future, compared to 33 percent who think he’s more concerned about governing New Jersey. Murray says bad memories of an absentee Chris Christie still haunt New Jersey.
“That is the kind of number that actually brought Chris Christie down,” Murray said. “And that can be really damaging to him. He needs to really send a message to New Jerseyans that I am focused on the issues that are important to you. And he hasn’t really articulated that well, so far.”
A Murphy administration official says they pay more attention to polls of likely voters, but they did note the undecideds in this poll, and say they’re planning more outreach, including town halls, later this year.