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56% in NJ Think Christie Should Resign If He Knew About Fort Lee Retaliation

Friday, January 10, 2014

Most New Jersey voters think it’s likely Governor Chris Christie was aware of the Fort Lee traffic lane closures before they happened and should resign if this is proven. But voters in the state still think the governor is doing a better job than President Obama.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 54% of Likely New Jersey Voters believe it’s at least somewhat likely that Christie was aware that traffic lanes onto the George Washington Bridge were being closed as retaliation for the mayor of Fort Lee’s refusal to support the governor’s reelection. Thirty-six percent (36%) think it’s unlikely Christie was aware beforehand. This includes 30% who say it’s Very Likely he was aware and 17% who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty-six percent (56%) of New Jersey voters believe Christie should resign if it is proven that he approved of retaliation against an elected official who refused to support him. Just 29% disagree, while 15% are not sure.

Not surprisingly, 75% of Democrats think it’s likely Christie, a Republican, was aware of the Fort Lee retaliation beforehand, but just 34% of GOP voters and 46% of unaffiliated voters agree. Seventy-three percent (73%) of Democrats and 52% of unaffiliated voters believe Christie should resign if he was aware of the lane closures beforehand; 50% of Republicans disagree.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of all voters in the state say they are less likely to vote for Christie to be president in 2016 because of the Fort Lee incident. Fourteen percent (14%) are more likely to vote for him. Another 39% say the incident will have no impact on their voting decision.

Seventy-one percent (71%) think it’s likely that some members of the governor’s staff also retaliated against other political officials who refused to support his reelection, with 41% who believe it’s Very Likely. Only 17% feel it’s not very or Not At All Likely that other officials were targeted for failing to support Christie’s reelection bid.

This survey was taken last night following Christie’s lengthy press conference in which he apologized for the Fort Lee incident in early September and announced that he had fired the top staff member who was involved. He repeatedly insisted that he was unaware that the lane closures were anything more than a routine traffic study until he read media reports yesterday morning citing e-mails in which the staff member apparently initiated the lane closures as political retaliation. The governor said he is still investigating the matter.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Garden State voters agree that staff members who ordered those traffic lane closures as political retaliation should be fired. A plurality (47%) also believes those staff members should be criminally prosecuted, but 31% disagree.

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The state survey of 800 Likely Voters in New Jersey was conducted January 9, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is  conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Fifty-five percent (55%) of New Jersey voters still hold a favorable opinion of Christie, down from 63% last October prior to his overwhelming reelection. Forty-four percent (44%) view him unfavorably. This includes 29% with a Very Favorable opinion of the governor and 22% with a Very Unfavorable one.

Sixty percent (60%) approve of the job Christie is doing, with 29% who Strongly Approve. By comparison, 52% approve of the president’s job performance, including 28% who Strongly Approve.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters in the state still think Christie is more ethical than most politicians. Just 21% feel he is less ethical, while 39% say his level of ethics is about the same as his peers.

Forty-one percent (41%) believe most elected officials use their offices to help those who support them and punish those who oppose them. Twenty-eight percent (28%) don’t believe most elected officials act this way, but slightly more (31%) are not sure.

Forty-four percent (44%) of New Jersey voters said in June of last year that they would vote for Christie in 2016 if he is the Republican presidential nominee. 

Among Republicans in the state, 32% say they are more likely to vote for Christie in the 2016 presidential race because of the Fort Lee incident, while 20% are less likely to do so. But 36% of unaffiliated voters say they are less likely to vote for him now.

Prior to the Fort Lee controversy, the presidential race was a dead heat. Forty-three percent (43%) of voters said if the 2016 presidential election were held today, they would chose Democrat Hillary Clinton, while 41% would opt for Christie instead.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown is available to Platinum Members only.

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