Months after bridge scandal, Chris Christie's approval still lags

Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., speaks at "An Evening at the Fair" event with Scott County Republicans in the Starlight Ballroom at The Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds on July 17, 2014 in Davenport, Iowa.

Scott Olson, Getty Images

More than 7 months after the George Washington Bridge scandal snarled his administration, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's approval ratings have yet to recover, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Forty-nine percent of voters said they approve of Christie's job performance in the new survey, while 47 percent said they disapprove. The results split predictably along party lines: 71 percent of Democrats disapprove, while 86 percent of Republicans approve. Independent voters split about evenly.

The results represent quite a fall from grace for Christie, a Republican whose approval ratings in July 2013 before the scandal broke hovered near 70 percent. He won reelection later that year by a 60 to 38 percent margin.

"People used to talk about Gov. Christopher Christie's appeal to independent voters, but many of those voters now have second thoughts," explained Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "Bridgegate has faded from the headlines, but Gov. Christie still hasn't recovered."

In January, it was revealed that several of Christie's aides engineered a traffic jam on access lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge in September 2013 to punish a local Democratic mayor who'd declined to endorse Christie's reelection bid. The governor dismissed the aides responsible, and he's maintained he was unaware of their scheme until the scandal broke.

The controversy has taken a toll on voters' opinion of the governor personally. In the Quinnipiac survey, 56 percent of respondents said Christie is honest and trustworthy while 49 percent disagreed. And voters were evenly divided at 48 percent on whether Christie is more of a leader or more of a bully.

Still, 68 percent of voters said Christie exhibits strong leadership qualities. And 56 percent of voters give Christie high marks for his handling of the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, which battered the Jersey Shore in 2012.

Quinnipiac's poll surveyed 1,148 New Jersey voters between July 31 and August 4, and it carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.