Poll: Booker holds commanding lead; Christie approval rating at 70 percent

Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Gov. Chris Christie continue to be among the most popular politicians in the state, at least according to a new poll from Kean University.

Booker holds a huge lead over his four rivals in the U.S. Senate primary, while Christie’s approval ratings are at 70 percent, according to the poll of 1,000 likely voters.

In the Senate race, Booker garners 49 percent of the vote, according to the poll, while challengers U.S. Rep. Rush Holt and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver lag far behind with 9 percent.  U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, who some pundits say has the best chance against Booker, trails with 6 percent.

Five percent preferred a different candidate while 22 percent are unsure.

On the Republican side of the ledger, GOP candidate Steve Lonegan holds a commanding lead over Alieta Eck, 45 percent to 15 percent with 29 percent not sure.

As Christie vies for re-election against Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, his approval ratings remain in rarefied territory.  According to the poll, 70 percent of respondents approve of his job performance.  That number is slightly off the 78 percent rating Christie saw in January, shortly after Super Storm Sandy devastated the state.

“No political figure can maintain an approval rating of nearly 80 percent,” said Terry Golway, director of the Kean University Center for History, Politics, and Policy. “What’s astounding about Governor Christie is that he continues to enjoy record-high approval ratings across the board. These figures are the stuff of political fantasies, and yet they are reality for Chris Christie.”

Christie leads Buono by 30 points in a head to head matchup, 58 percent to 28 percent.

Despite the large lead and hefty approval ratings, the governor’s coattails are short. According to the poll, 68 percent of respondents said Christie’s endorsement would either have no effect on their vote or would make it less likely they would vote for a candidate. Thirty percent said the governor’s endorsement would make it more likely they would vote for a candidate.

Despite several scandals that have plagued his administration of late President Obama enjoys the support of Garden State residents with a 59 percent approval rating.

"He’s obviously working very, very hard at it. I mean he’s traveling all over the country as chairman of the [Republican Governors Association] and I think at this point he has as good a chance or better than anybody else. His name is household word all across the country, and I think he would make a great president."
—former U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-3), on Gov. Chris Christie