TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Voters in a poll released Monday said they were disgusted, angry and outraged by photos of Gov. Chris Christie sunning himself on a beach that was off-limits to the public during a government shutdown.
In the first poll released since Beachgate, the Republican governor’s approval rating held steady at a dismal 15 percent, an all-time low. Eighty percent disapproved, according to the new Monmouth University poll.
The numbers were virtually unchanged since a June 14 Quinnipiac University poll that found Christie with a 15 percent approval rating and an 81 percent disapproval rating.
Asked for the first word that came to mind to describe how they felt about the photos, the largest share of residents said “disgusted” and “angry, outraged.” Tied for the next biggest share was “jerk, profanity used,” according to the survey.
“Christie may have found the floor for his ratings, but it’s a level where most of his constituents now feel his time in office has hurt the state,” said Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray.
Murray added, “It really is difficult to drive approval ratings into the single digits barring something like a criminal conviction. However, you have to admire Christie’s seeming tenacity for trying to get his numbers down to that level.”
The Monmouth survey was conducted July 6-9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Most of the 800 people surveyed — 86 percent — said they saw aerial photos taken July 2 by NJ.com of the term-limited Christie sitting in a beach chair on the closed beach with his family and guests at the governor’s residence on Island Beach State Park.
He told reporters at a news conference later that day in Trenton that he hadn’t gotten any sun that day. Then, when told of the photos, his spokesman told NJ.com that the governor was telling the truth because he was wearing a baseball hat during his 45-minute visit to the beach.
While the budget impasse was caused by a dispute between Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature, it was the beach photos that made the most news, leading to headlines around the world and memes across the internet.
Christie said he’s not apologizing for it and doesn’t care about “political optics.”
The release of the newest poll came the same day that the governor auditioned for a new gig on sports talk radio.
Christie is filling in for Mike Francesa on WFAN on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. The station says the appearances are an audition as it seeks a replacement for the departing host.
The events come as he enters lame-duck territory with the Democratic and even Republican candidates running to succeed him tossing him aside.
Democratic nominee Phil Murphy used the beach photos to help raise cash. In an email to supporters recently, he wrote that Christie “disgraced New Jersey” by shutting down the government and sitting on the state beach that was closed to the public.
Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who publicly questioned Christie’s decision to go to the beach, said the budget Christie signed “spends too much” and the people “get too little.”
This week’s news won’t be much better for Christie.
David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty to masterminding the George Washington Bridge lane closure scheme, is set to be sentenced Wednesday, and the Senate is holding a hearing the same day on President Donald Trump’s FBI pick, Christopher Wray.
Christie has called Wray, a former Justice Department official under George W. Bush, a top-rate lawyer and said Wray was the only lawyer he sought out when he needed legal help during the bridge scandal. Wray held the missing cellphone that was used by the governor and contained about a dozen text messages that Christie exchanged with a former staffer during a legislative hearing related to Bridgegate in 2013.
Christie has denied wrongdoing and was never charged in the 2013 scheme that has already seen two former aides convicted and sentenced to prison in a plot to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse Christie’s re-election effort.
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