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Poll: New Jersey Voters Ready To Re-Elect Christie

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Chris Christie shattered another public opinion poll record by scoring a 74 percent job approval rating, the highest of any governor in 17 years of Quinnipiac University surveys, the Polling Institute said Wednesday.

Respondents also said overwhelmingly the brash-talking Republican deserves re-election this year.

"How high is up? New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie keeps soaring," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Most governors would kill for a 56 percent job approval rating. Republican Gov. Christie gets that from Democrats!"

Speaking at an unrelated event on Wednesday, Christie reacted to his high favorable rating.

"I like them. And I agree with those wise and kind people," the governor quipped.

The poll released Wednesday shows Christie leading his likely Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono, by 37 percentage points. And 83 percent of respondents said they don't know enough about Buono to have an opinion about her.

"State Sen. Barbara Buono is going to have to introduce herself to voters; no one knows her and Christie clobbers her," Carroll said.

Christie leads Buono among every demographic group except Democrats. He also holds a 50-point lead among independent voters.

And in an early look at the 2016 presidential election, 49 percent of New Jersey voters would vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while 45 percent said they would vote for Christie, CBS 2's Christine Sloan reported.

However, if a potential race were to feature New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo against Christie, the Garden State governor comes out on top by a 54 to 36 percent margin.

EXTRA: Click Here To See The Full Results

The Republican governor's popularity went up after Hurricane Sandy. Even Democrats were praising him for reaching out across the aisle, including inviting President Barack Obama to New Jersey in the aftermath of the storm during a presidential election.

"I think he showed the nation what it takes to get things done. We're Republicans and Democrats, but we're Americans first," Little Ferry Mayor Mauro Raguseo told CBS 2's Sloan.

But Christie downplayed his high marks.

"It's more of a reflection, candidly, on how people feel about themselves in the state. The thing in the poll that impressed me the most was the 61 percent of New Jerseyans who believe the state's moving in the right direction," said Christie. "As I've said all along, polls are great when they're going well for you and they will go up and down and there's no question that, as we go through invariably what will be a political year, that there will be ups and downs in those polls. But I'm happy to be where I am today."

The telephone survey of 1,149 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 13-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Would you re-elect Christie? Let us know below...

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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