Poll: A ladies' man, Chris Christie is not

A day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) came one step closer to a particularly significant victory in his quest to cut spending and restore fiscal order to his state, Quinnipiac released a poll that shows his approval rating has actually slipped. Apparently, winning over women isn’t exactly the governor’s forte (which, in light of recent — and totally unrelated — scandals, isn’t necessarily a negative thing). From the poll summary:

Disapproval from women drives New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie to a slightly negative 44 – 47 percent job approval rating, his lowest grade ever, but he’s doing better than most governors in other states surveyed by Quinnipiac University.

Women disapprove of the job Gov. Christie is doing 54 – 36 percent, while men approve 53 – 39 percent, a 17-point gender gap, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. Approval is 76 – 15 percent among Republicans and 47 – 44 percent among independent voters, while Democrats disapprove 75 – 17 percent. …

“New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie’s job approval is slightly under water, but he’s doing better than the other governors that Quinnipiac University asks about, except for New York’s Andrew Cuomo,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. …

“[V]oters like their ‘Jersey guy’ governor better as a person than they like his policies,” Carroll added. “Men like him a lot; women, not so much.”

What drives feminine disapproval of a man some want tapped for the top spot in the country? The poll director speculates it’s Christie’s education policies that have landed him in the doghouse.

“Gov. Christie is having a big problem with women, perhaps because they care more about schools and disapprove 60 – 34 percent of the way he’s handling education,” Carroll said in the summary.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ordered the state to spend more money on struggling public schools — a fly in Christie’s spending-cut salve for the state. The decision made little sense for a cash-strapped state — especially because increased funding is not actually correlated with an enhanced education — but New Jersey voters agree with the Supreme Court by a four-point margin, 49 percent to 45 percent. Voters would like to provide the additional school funding via other state spending cuts, but they’re also OK with higher taxes:

  • 56 – 40 percent support more tax dollars for schools in the state’s poorest districts;
  • 62 – 36 percent support more funding to improve all schools;
  • 74 – 18 percent say cut state spending rather than raise taxes to pay more for schools;
  • 65 – 29 percent support a millionaire’s tax to fund schools.

A few other notable poll findings: A large majority — 61 percent — of voters say Christie wouldn’t make a good vice president and union workers overwhelmingly disapprove of the governor’s performance (now, that’s a surprise!). That helicopter ride to watch his son play baseball? “Not a big deal,” voters say by 51 percent to 46 percent.

Polls like this one make me particularly thankful for politicians like Christie — that is, for politicians who don’t seem to care too much for evanescent popular opinion, even as they respect reality and their obligations to constituents. Christie will do what he can, with what he has, where he is to fulfill his electoral mandate, which he saw as primarily budget-related (and, indeed, New Jersey voters disapprove of the way Democrats in the state legislature have handled the budget far more than they disapprove of Christie). And he’ll brave popular disapproval to do it. For that, I say: May the cost-reducing bill the New Jersey Senate passed yesterday to require public union workers to pay more for their pensions pass the State Assembly, too — and to Christie’s acclaim!