New Jersey voters don’t buy report clearing Chris Christie in bridge scandal


By a 20-point margin, New Jersey voters aren't buying the results of an internal investigation commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., that concluded the governor had nothing to do with the George Washington Bridge scandal.

That's according to a new Quinnipiac poll that also saw the governor's approval rating slide to 49 percent, with 44 percent disapproving. In January, shortly after the bridge scandal broke, 55 percent of New Jersey voters approved of Christie's performance on the job.

Earlier this year it was revealed that several of Christie's aides orchestrated a traffic jam on lanes leading to the highly-trafficked George Washington Bridge to apparently punish a local mayor who'd declined to endorse Christie's reelection bid.

A team of lawyers hired by Christie to investigate the scandal concluded that the governor was never personally involved in, or even aware of, the scheme. Christie defended the report's impartiality, saying the lawyers he hired "have their own professional and personal reputations," and that they wouldn't "whitewash" anything on his behalf.

But 56 percent of New Jersey voters say the report was indeed a "whitewash," according to Quinnipiac, while only 36 percent believe it was a "legitimate investigation."

In those results, "there's a clear political split," explained Maurice Carroll, assistant director of Quinnipiac's polling institute. "Two thirds of Republicans agree with the report while Democrats overwhelmingly give it bad marks."

A similar probe by the New Jersey legislature is only slightly more credible in the eyes of voters: 46 percent say that probe is legitimate, while 46 percent believe it's a "political witch hunt."

A large majority (64 percent) of voters who are aware of the bridge scandal do not think Christie personally ordered the lane closures. But 51 percent believe he was aware of his aides' plot.

Voters are similarly suspicious of the governor's role in a separate controversy surrounding his administration's distribution of aid money after Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey in 2012.

In January, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, a Democrat, said members of Christie's administration threatened to withhold relief money from her storm-ravaged city if she didn't approve an unrelated development project. And according to Quinnipiac, 57 percent of New Jersey voters believe Zimmer.

Christie is considering a run for the presidency in 2016, but he's seen his star dimmed by the swirl of controversy in his home state. In the survey, 57 percent of New Jersey voters say Christie would not make a good president, while 35 percent say he would. And by a margin of 52 to 43 percent, voters hope he won't run.

Quinnipiac's poll surveyed 1,356 New Jersey voters from April 2 - 7, and it carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.