fdu_public_mind_pollMADISON, NJ - New Jersey voters continue to give the Garden State governor sturdy approval ratings. According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, 51% of New Jersey voters approve of the way Chris Christie is handling his job as governor; while 41% disapprove.

“He’s not the Teflon governor,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll, “But right now he looks like the armored governor.”

Christie’s approval rating is slightly better than his favorability rating: he is viewed favorably by 47% and unfavorably by 41%. That is better than the NJEA, the teachers’ union he has consistently criticized, which is viewed favorably by 39% and unfavorably by 38%.

“The NJEA’s numbers have not improved despite their recent and expensive advertising efforts,” said Woolley. Moreover, voters who have a favorable view of the NJEA disapprove of the governor’s performance by 64%-26%. Voters who have an unfavorable view of the NJEA approve of the governor by 78%-17%.

There are other notable differences in the governor’s approval rating among subgroups. Men approve strongly of the governor’s performance by 58%-34%, while women split 45% approving and 47% disapproving. Non-public employee households give the governor thumbs up by 57%-34%, but he is completely upside down with public employee households 34%-61%.

Meanwhile, more than three of five voters (64%) continue to say the state should hold the line on spending even if many programs are reduced, while one in four (26%) say the state should raise taxes if necessary to support state programs. Those who say the budget should be cut, even if it means cutting programs approve of the governor by a 2-to-1 margin (63%-29%), while those who say taxes should be raised disapprove of the governor by more than a 2-to-1 margin (69%-25%).

Asked who they prefer to control the state Assembly and Senate after the next election, voters prefer Democrats by a 41%-36% margin. Public employee households prefer that Democrats keep control by more than a 2-to-1 margin (56%-25%). Non-public employee household voters split, 39% for Republicans, 37% for Democrats.

“The governor would certainly like his support this year to translate into gains in legislative seats,” said Woolley, “but the new district map as well as registration that favors the Democratic Party will make that a real challenge.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 711 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from March 29 through April 4, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.