Coming off a major national address at the Republican convention and heading into the fourth and final year of his first term, Gov. Christie retains strong popularity in an otherwise Democratic state, according to the Inquirer New Jersey Poll conducted last week.
Christie has 56 percent favorability ratings statewide, tying with President Obama, a Democrat, as the most popular of seven prominent politicians whose names were polled. Christie's unfavorability ranking statewide is 40 percent.
When voters were asked if they approved of the job that Christie is doing, 59 percent answered affirmatively, compared with 55 percent for the president.
In the seven South Jersey counties, the governor's job approval drops - but ever so slightly, to 55 percent; his favorability there is 53 percent.
Although Christie has consistently polled in the 50 percent range for job approval and favorability, these are among the highest numbers seen so far in his term. The poll comes as Democrats, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, consider challenging Christie for reelection next year.
The telephone survey of 600 likely presidential voters statewide was conducted from Sept. 9 through Wednesday by a bipartisan team of pollsters from a Democratic firm, Global Strategy Group, and a Republican one, National Research Inc. The margin of error is 4 percentage points statewide and 8.5 percent in the seven southern counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem).
The poll confirms a unique dichotomy about New Jersey: The Republican governor and the Democratic president are both popular. Obama leads his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by 14 points, the poll found.
This means that "Obama has popularity beyond the Democratic base, and Christie has popularity beyond the Republican base," said Adam Geller of National Research, who has also done internal polling for Christie.
Brian Pinkard, 53, of Burlington Township, one of those polled, supports Obama and Christie.
"If Chris Christie were running for president, he'd have my vote," Pinkard said. "But he's not running, and the best man running right now is Barack Obama."