Christie Put at Year-Low Approval Rate as Women Turn Thumbs Down

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011 07:00 AM

Chris Christie’s approval rating slid to the lowest in a year as support waned among women, a Quinnipiac University poll said, after the Republican governor of New Jersey cut funding for schools and family planning.

Christie, 48, got approving marks from 44 percent of registered voters surveyed, the poll released today showed. Just 36 percent of female voters approved of the first-term governor’s job performance, down from 39 percent in February.

With 53 percent of men approving, the gender gap widened from February, when the figures were 46 percent of women and 58 percent of males, school polls show. The latest survey said 49 percent of voters dislike his policies, matching those that like him as a person. Women split 41 percent to 40 percent on liking him, compared with men at 58 percent to 25 percent.

“Governor Christie is having a big problem with women, perhaps because they care more about schools and disapprove 60 percent - 34 percent of the way he’s handling education,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, said in a statement with the results. “Men like him a lot; women, not so much.”

Compared with the Legislature’s handling of the budget, the governor isn’t doing so badly. Legislative Democrats got disapproving grades from 66 percent of respondents, while just 20 percent approved, the poll said.

Budget Disapproval

Those tallied split 47 percent approve to 48 percent disapprove on how Christie is handling the budget. More than half, 55 percent, disapproved of the way the governor has dealt with school issues.

Christie has proclaimed 2011 the year to overhaul education and has pushed for expanding the number of charter schools, changing teacher tenure rules and tying their pay to student performance. The state Supreme Court has ordered him to restore $500 million in funding to the poorest districts to reverse cuts since he took office.

More than half of survey respondents, 56 percent, said the state should spend more to improve schools in the poorest communities. And 62 percent said funding should increase to improve all schools in the state.

If the money went to schools, 65 percent said they would support a “millionaire’s tax.” Christie vetoed a similar measure last year and has said he doesn’t support raising taxes to balance budgets.

Cut Family Plannning

In his first spending plan, for the fiscal year that ends this month, the governor cut almost $7.5 million from family- planning funding, leading six clinics to close. Christie has proposed a similar level in his budget for next year.

Among all voters surveyed, Christie’s job-approval rating fell from 47 percent in April and from a term-high 52 percent in the February poll. His 44 percent grade in the June 14-19 telephone survey matches his previous low in a June 2010 poll.

About half of respondents, 51 percent, in the latest survey said media coverage of Christie riding to his son’s baseball games in a state helicopter was “much ado about nothing,” Quinnipiac said. The governor and Republicans later reimbursed the state about $3,400 for two trips aboard the chopper.

“Voters like their ‘Jersey guy’ governor better as a person than they like his policies,” Carroll said.

Quinnipiac pollsters contacted 1,610 registered voters and the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, the school said.

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