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Poll: Voters approve of governor, independents turned off by first lady’s Senate bid


Poll: Voters approve of governor, independents turned off by first lady’s Senate bid

Feb 06, 2024 | 6:00 am ET
By Nikita Biryukov
Poll: Voters approve of governor, independents turned off by first lady’s Senate bid
Independent poll respondents told of First Lady Tammy Murphy's senatorial campaign are more likely to not approve of governor's performance. (Rich Hundley III/Governor’s Office)

Nearly half of New Jerseyans approve of Gov. Phil Murphy’s job performance, though more said they did not approve after being told First Lady Tammy Murphy is mounting a bid for the U.S. Senate, according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll.

The poll found Murphy’s job approvals were nine points above water, 46%-37%. Just over three-quarters of Democrats, 76%, gave Murphy the thumbs up, while only 17% of Republicans did the same.

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

Unaffiliated voters narrowly approved of the governor 42%-40%, but their regard for the state’s chief executive declined some after pollsters told respondents that the first lady is seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate. With that information, independent voters disapproved of Murphy’s job performance 32%-61%.

“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.”

Tammy Murphy is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat now held by Sen. Bob Menendez, who has not said whether he will seek another term. Menendez was charged in September by federal prosecutors who allege he accepted bribes to interfere with criminal prosecutions and international matters. Rep. Andy Kim (D-03), Patricia Campos-Medina, and Larry Hamm are her opponents in the Democratic primary.

Approval among Republican poll respondents armed with information about the first lady’s Senate bid dropped to just 9%, but Democratic respondents’ regard for the governor grew after learning of Tammy Murphy’s bid. After they were told of her candidacy, 81% of Democratic respondents said they approved of Gov. Murphy’s job performance.

A separate FDU poll released last week, the public poll first to gauge support for Democrats seeking the Senate seat, found Kim led Tammy Murphy 32%-20%, with nearly a third of respondents undecided.