N.J. residents give Murphy high marks on job performance, reopening decisions: polls

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at the opening of a mass vaccination site at Rowan College

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at the opening of a mass vaccination site at Rowan College of South Jersey in Sewell. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

New Jerseyans approve of the job Gov. Phil Murphy is doing and support his decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions amid a decline in new infections, two polls released this week found.

Both surveys, conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, showed that a majority of respondents back Murphy and the major decisions he’s made in recent weeks to ease coronavirus restrictions.

“Certainly it’s off of where it was at the very beginning of the pandemic, when all governors across the country were getting really high remarks for this,” said Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray. “But he’s still getting good marks.”

In one poll, 57% of respondents said they approved of the job Murphy is doing as governor, while just 35% disapproved. In the other, nearly three-quarters of people said they supported his decision to ease restrictions on outdoor gatherings, while 60% supported the administration loosening restrictions indoors.

“People agreed with him when he shut the state down, but agree with him when he’s loosening restrictions as well,” Murray said. “He’s been able to walk that fine line between those two choices fairly well.”

The polls weren’t all positive for Murphy. Although a majority of respondents said he was doing a good job as governor, just 48% said he should be reelected in November, while 43% said it’s time for someone new.

“New Jerseyans kind of sit on the fence and just say, ‘You know, it’s not November yet, something could happen that could change my mind about this governor, so I’m not ready to commit to another four years of him yet,’” Murray said.

He added that residents may be shy about supporting Murphy for a second term after re-electing Gov. Chris Christie overwhelmingly in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, only for him to launch a bid for president less than two years later.

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