People in New Jersey still broadly like Chris Christie, according to two new polls. They also assume he knows more than he's saying, and that there's more to come on the Fort Lee traffic jams scandal.
Basically everything in this new poll from Monmouth University and the Asbury Park Press (which we found via Political Wire) would be bad news for a normal elected official. Conducted from Friday to Sunday of last week, it found that 59 percent of New Jersey residents still think their governor is doing a good job. It's a 6-point drop in a month, and his lowest ratings since before Hurricane Sandy hit, but they aren't terrible numbers.
What's remarkable is that New Jersey voters generally are skeptical that the whole truth has come out, but support Christie regardless.
- 64 percent believe the lane closures in Fort Lee were an act of political retaliation. Only 14 percent accept the previous story that the closures were a traffic study.
- 80 percent think more Christie staffers will be implicated in the scandal.
- 34 percent think Christie himself was involved, though 52 percent disagree. (That 34 percent is about the same number as view Christie unfavorably.)
- 52 percent don't believe he didn't know about his staff's involvement before last week.
- 34 percent also don't believe that Christie wants a full investigation.
- Independents defected from Christie the most over the past month, dropping 11 points in favorability.
There's an aspect to this that's positive for Christie. Clearly, many state residents already assume that the tough-guy persona blamed for the scandal is part and parcel of who they elected last year. Seventy-five percent think that this type of behavior is common in politics at large. In fact, the Monmouth poll suggests that 1 percent of respondents have more trust in the governor, but two-thirds haven't had their opinion on that change.
Nationally, the picture is slightly different — and even better for Christie. Pew Research found that just under a fifth of Americans were paying attention to the Christie story. Of that group, opinions largely haven't changed. But 6 percent said that their opinion of the governor became more favorable as a result.
On ABC on Sunday, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani had words of caution for Christie. "If, for some reason, [Christie's claims are] not true," Giuliani said, "the man has put his political career completely at risk if it turns out there is some evidence that he knew about it." This isn't advanced punditry: guy lies, he pays the price. But if this Monmouth poll is right — at least in New Jersey, Giuliani could be wrong.