Monmouth Poll: Wide approval for Murphy, NJ social distancing measures
Gov. Phil Murphy's approval rating among New Jersey residents skyrocketed to 71% amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Monmouth University Poll that also shows wide approval of the strict measures New Jersey has taken to slow the spread of the virus.
Murphy's job rating has jumped 30 points since September, when 41% of New Jerseyans approved of the first-term Democratic governor's performance. The new poll has Murphy's disapproval rating at 21%, compared to 38% seven months ago. Eight percent reported no opinion.
The poll shows good news for Murphy even among the state's Republicans: 45% of them approve of his job performance, up from 16%. New Jersey Democrats give the governor 92% job approval and unaffiliated voters, 69%.
Meanwhile, as President Donald Trump and conservatives argue in favor of reopening the economy, Monmouth's poll finds broad approval in New Jersey for the closure of nonessential retail businesses and social distancing measures.
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“Not only are Murphy’s approval numbers up, but more New Jerseyans are taking notice than during the first two years of his term,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “Leadership becomes much more relevant in a crisis and Murphy is getting solid reviews for his response.”
The findings of Monmouth's new poll echo the results of polling in other states hit hard by the pandemic. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who like Murphy has led widely watched daily briefings on the virus, has a 71% approval rating from his state's voters, according to a March 30 Siena College poll. That represents a 27-point jump from a poll the month before. A Market Research Group poll put Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's job approval at 60%, up from 42% in October.
Murphy is also getting high marks on his handling of coronavirus specifically: 79% say he has done a good job dealing with the crisis, compared to 10% who say he's done a bad job, according to the Monmouth poll.
Approval of the New Jersey Legislature is also on the rise, with 54% approving and 27% disapproving. A September poll had 33% approval of the Legislature and 42% disapproval.
The poll also found an uptick in New Jersey's view of Trump, even as the Republican president remains largely unpopular in the Garden State. The new poll finds 41% approval of Trump's job performance, up from 37% in September. His disapproval rating rose one point to 56%.
Murphy has taken heat from conservatives in New Jersey and nationwide for his aggressive efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus — there was a small protest of the state shutdown in Trenton last week — but Monmouth University's poll says 64% of residents say the measures have been appropriate. Eleven percent say the state's orders go too far, while 23% say they have not gone far enough. The poll's findings show larger disapproval of the federal government's response, with 42% saying it has been appropriate and 51% saying it has not done enough.
“The nation has seen sporadic protests against these restrictions, including one in Trenton on Friday,” Murray said. “The poll shows, though, that these protestors represent an incredibly small sliver of all state residents. The vast majority are united in their support for social distancing measures to protect the health of their fellow New Jerseyans.”
The poll also asked residents about specific New Jersey directives, finding broad approval of all of them. Requiring people to maintain 6 feet of distance gets a 97% approval rating, limiting restaurants to only takeout and delivery orders gets 94% and moving the state's primary to July gets 89%. About 90% approve of closing gyms, libraries, child care centers and nonessential retail stores.
Some directives are less popular, though still have majority support: halting some construction projects (74% approval); closing state and county parks (70% approval); and publicly naming people cited for violating the state's coronavirus restrictions (64% approval).
At a press briefing Tuesday, Murphy said it was "gratifying" to find the public on his side here.
"I do think people believe when you make decisions based on science, fact, data, those are always going to be better decisions," he said.
Terrence T. McDonald is a reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.