Despite slipping a few points, Gov. Phil Murphy’s job rating continues to be in positive territory with New Jersey residents according to the latest Monmouth Poll.
Released Aug. 16, one-third of respondents say Murphy has scored major accomplishments in office and the vast majority say gender and race should not be considerations in choosing a successor for the late Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver.
The poll finds that Murphy’s overall job performance rating stands at 50% approve and 39% disapprove among all New Jersey adults and 50% approve and 40% disapprove among registered voters. These numbers, while remaining positive, are down slightly since the start of his second term last year and more in line with voter opinion during his 2021 reelection campaign.
Murphy’s approval rating is stable among his fellow Democrats (85% now and 86% in April 2022), but has dropped a few points among independents (43%, from 51% in 2022) and Republicans (12%, from 17%).
Regionally, the governor’s approval has held fairly steady in North Jersey (54% now and 57% in 2022), but has declined in both Central Jersey (49%, from 60%) and South Jersey (41% from 48%).
Three in 10 New Jerseyans (33%) say Murphy has achieved major accomplishments during his time as governor and 39% say he has minor accomplishments. Another 27% say he has no real accomplishments to point to. The poll’s major accomplishment number has ticked up by a few points in the past year, mainly due to an increase among Democrats.
At the same time, the minor accomplishment number has ticked down, primarily among Republicans. Despite the small shifts, the statewide results remain in line with prior polls going back to 2021.
The Monmouth University Poll also asked how Murphy’s policies have impacted six different constituent groups in New Jersey. These ratings have largely been stable during the governor’s tenure. The largest change, in relative terms, has been in opinion of his impact on property taxpayers.
Currently, 23% say Murphy’s policies have helped property taxpayers, which is up from 13% a year ago. Still, far more New Jerseyans (49%) say his policies have hurt this group, with 20% saying there has been no impact on property taxpayers.
Similarly, 31% say middle-class residents have been helped by the governor’s policies, while more (44%) say they have been hurt and 19% say there has been no impact on the middle class.
Opinion is somewhat more positive, although still divided, on how the Murphy administration has affected the lives of poor residents (36% helped and 32% hurt) and wealthy residents (29% helped and 19% hurt), as well as transit riders (26% helped and 20% hurt). The effect of the governor’s policies for businesses in the state is seen as a net negative (28% helped and 38% hurt).
Choosing a Successor
While Oliver was the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New Jersey, most residents (83%) say that race should not be a factor when Murphy names her replacement. Just 15% say he should appoint another person of color – including 32% of Black New Jerseyans, 17% of Hispanics, Asians and other people of color, and 11% of non-Hispanic white residents.
Similarly, just 16% of New Jerseyans prefer that Murphy choose a woman, while 80% say the new officeholder’s gender does not matter to them. Even among fellow Democrats, the vast majority would not factor gender and race into the choice of a new lieutenant governor.
“Sheila Oliver broke barriers in New Jersey politics. However, most New Jerseyans do not feel that means gender and race should be primary factors in choosing her successor,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll may offer a warning to Dems with all 120 state legislators are up for election this November. The opinion of the state legislature’s performance has dipped in the past year and now stands at 37% approve (from 44% in April 2022), and 45% disapprove (from 39%). The current result is similar to public opinion of the legislature in 2019 polling.