Exit polls: The economy is top issue for N.J., Va., voters

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By Fred Backus, Jennifer De Pinto and Sarah Dutton

As they go to the polls to choose their next governor, Virginia and New Jersey votersboth agree: the economy is the top issue.

In Virginia, 45 percent said the economy is the issue most on their minds; in New Jersey that issue outpaced, by far, taxes, education, and same-sex marriage.

In addition, nearly six in 10 New Jersey voters say the state's economy is in bad shape; while about 40 percent say it is good.

While 29 percent of New Jersey voters think the condition of the state's economy has improved from four years ago, just as many say it has gotten worse. Four in 10 think it has stayed the same.

Virginia voters are divided about both the 2010 health care law, and they aren't in agreement about who is to blame for the recent government shutdown. Voters show skepticism about both candidates.

Thirty-two percent of Virginia voters say their households were affected by the recent government shutdown. While 49 percent blame the Republicans more for the shutdown, 43 percent blame President Obama. But Virginia voters are divided over the main sticking point of the shutdown: The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. While 48 percent say they support the 2010 health care law, 50 percent say they are opposed - including 40 percent who say they are strongly opposed.

Fifty-two percent of Virginia voters - including slightly more than half of the supporters of each candidate - say they strongly favor their candidate. Forty-eight percent, however, either like their candidate with reservations (30 percent) or are voting because they dislike the other candidate (18 percent). Four in 10 each think that McAuliffe or Cuccinelli have high ethical standards.

In New Jersey, early exit polls find voters give Republican Gov. Chris Christie high marks for his handling of problems caused by Superstorm Sandy last year - an event that catapulted him into the national spotlight. More than eight in 10 voters approve of his response to the storm. A quarter say they suffered severe hardship due to Superstorm Sandy, and those voters also approve of the way the Republican governor handled problems caused by the storm.

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