New Jersey Gov. Murphy holds on to strong approval ratings

Sean Brown receives a COVID-19 vaccine

Penns Grove Business Manager Sean Brown gets his COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic hosted by the Puerto Rican Action Committee. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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Most New Jersey voters who took part in a new Monmouth University poll think Gov. Phil Murphy is doing a good job.

Out of 810 registered voters surveyed, 54% approve of the job Murphy is doing, down 3% from May. His disapproval rating is flat at 36%.

Those surveyed continue to give Murphy high marks for how he is managing the state through the pandemic. Sixty-one percent say he is doing a good job, down 4% from May. Meanwhile, 28% say he is doing a bad job, which has remained flat.

These numbers are “pretty strong” for an incumbent seeking reelection, said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“Most people say he’s doing a good job on the issue that they care about the most,” he said. “That’s a pretty good sign for reelection.”

Voters surveyed said the pandemic is the number one issue on their minds.

But Murray cautions the poll is just a snapshot of where voters are in mid-August.

“If he mishandles the pandemic, something comes down the pike that’s out of his control, or he makes a mistake between now and November, these numbers could obviously shift,” he said.

Less than half of people surveyed also say the state has taken the right measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Murphy has announced vaccine and testing mandates for school personnel, as well as state and health care workers in recent weeks. He has also issued a mask mandate for schools and “strongly encouraged” mask-wearing for many indoor settings.

About a quarter of voters who participated in the Monmouth Poll said these measures have not gone far enough. Murray said that’s an indication Murphy has the support he needs to implement or reimplement measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“That gives the governor some leeway if he wants to impose new restrictions somewhere down the road,” he said. “He’s always going to have that vocal minority — basically one in four New Jerseyans — who are going to be out there protesting anything that he does.”

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