Gov. Chris Christie appears to be weathering the George Washington Bridge scandal quite well, with just a slight knock to his approval rating and the majority of New Jersey voters saying he had no direct involvement in the lane closures that gridlocked Fort Lee, a new poll says.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday says that Christie’s approval rating, while no longer stratospheric, remains high at 55 percent approving of the job he’s doing, compared to a 38 percent who disapprove. That’s down from an all-time high of 74 to 22 percent in February, the poll says.
Voters also say 51 to 41 percent that Christie is honest and trustworthy; 74 to 23 percent that he is a strong leader and 55 to 41 percent that he cares about their needs and problems, the poll says.
Christie also gets good marks on the ‘bully, question, with 54 to 40 percent saying the governor is more of a leader than a bully – one of his lowest bully scores since the institute began asking the question in 2010, the poll says.
"New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is doing better with the public than with the news media,’’ Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in the release. “His job approval has dropped from the stratosphere, but it's still double-digit positive, pretty much where he was before his Superstorm Sandy hug with President Barack Obama."
While 66 to 22 percent of voters said they did not believe Christie ordered the traffic jam, if it is shown that he did, or knew what his aids were doing, 33 percent said he should be removed from office and prosecuted. Another 32 percent said he should just be removed from office and 27 percent said an apology is enough, according to the poll.
Half those surveyed said the governor’s aides acted without his knowledge, while 41 percent said Christie knew what his aides were doing, the poll says.
Aides accused of involvement should be prosecuted, 43 percent of voters said, while 45 percent said removal from office is sufficient punishment and 6 percent said a reprimand is punishment enough, according to the poll.
"If Gov. Christie ordered or knew about the deliberate mess at the bridge, 24 percent of Republicans think he should be fired and another 26 percent say he should be fired and prosecuted," Carroll said. “"But most New Jerseyans - even most Democrats - doubt that the Governor was personally involved. “
The scandal does hurt Christie’s shot at the White House, according to 49 percent of those surveyed. Another 7 percent say the scandal ends those chances, while 2 percent say it helps his chances and 38 percent say the scandal will have no impact, according to the poll.
The poll was conducted Jan. 10-13, surveying by phone 1,207 New Jersey voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points, the poll says.