By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus
While most Americans (58 percent) have heard at least something about Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and the George Washington Bridge scandal, a majority says they’re unmoved by it: 53 percent say it hasn’t changed their view of him one way or the other. Most Republicans, and independents say they’re unaffected.
But 28 percent say the scandal has changed their view for the worse, rising to 43 percent among Democrats.
Americans who know more about the scandal are affected more negatively. Forty-one percent of Americans who have heard or read at least something about the scandal say it has made them view the governor more negatively. Just 2 percent say it has improved their opinion of him, and 51 percent are unaffected.
Forty percent do not think the governor was personally involved with the decision to close lanes on the bridge, while 29 percent think he was. Thirty-one percent don’t know.
Partisanship plays a role: Democrats are most likely to suspect the governor was involved (40 percent vs. 21 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of independents). However, sizable segments across all political persuasions say they don’t know.
Yet 43 percent think governor knew about his aides’ involvement before the emails and text messages became public. Twenty-seven percent think he found out after the story became public, and another 30 percent don’t know.
Few Americans have a firm opinion of New Jersey’s governor. Despite the attention he gets in political circles, six in 10 say they have not heard enough about Christie (38 percent) or have reserved judgment on him (another 22 percent).
However, among those who do have an opinion, unfavorable views of Christie have risen substantially following the scandal, from 10 percent in September as he was cruising to re-election, to more than double that, 23 percent, now.______________________________________________________________
This poll was conducted by telephone January 17-21, 2014 among 1,018 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.