Quinnipiac University released a poll today that may be surprising to some: Republican Gov. Chris Christie is more popular in New Jersey than President Obama. The poll shows the governor's approve/disapprove at 51/39, compared to 47/47 for the president. This reinforces what we have been saying for some time now: From blue New Jersey to red Texas, fiscal conservatism resounds positively with voters.
Christie's approach to governing has been straightforward rhetoric about the serious issues plaguing the Garden State – most notably the dominance and inflexibility of public employee unions. He has improved on Jon Corzine's terribly flawed property tax "cap," forced teachers union concessions on health benefits costs, and proposed meaningful reforms to the collective bargaining process. Perhaps most notably, he signed a budget that cut over 8 percent in spending from the last Corzine budget. All in a very blue state with Democratic majorities in both chambers of the legislature.
President Obama, on the other hand, has rammed through an aggressive tax-and-spend agenda and has the nation poised for the largest tax increases in its history. Trillions of dollars in new spending on bailouts, a "stimulus" package and a government takeover of health care, financed by higher taxes, have aided the president's gradual decline in the polls. Today's Q poll proves that it's not just red and purple states frustrated with the Democratic agenda.
The opposite trajectories of the two approval ratings underscores the public appetite for restraint in government and an adult conversation about the structural problems facing our government. On June 17, Gov. Christie's approve/disapprove was at 44/43 compared to 50/46 for President Obama. One can reasonably expect those trend lines to continue into the future.
There are 37 gubernatorial elections this November, the most in history. Republican governors across the country are looking for serious policies they can run on and eventually implement in their states. Just as Tim Pawlenty took on the unions and opposed all tax increases in deep blue Minnesota, Gov. Christie is proposing, defending, and executing serious, successful conservative reforms in the Garden State. It is imperative that GOP gubernatorial candidates take notice of the success he has had in doing so, and the popularity of his agenda with voters.
It is often said that state governments are the laboratories of democracy. While the president is fond of saying Republicans have put forth no proactive solutions to deal with the problems facing our country, he too need only look to New Jersey.