New Jersey Poll Claims Christie Standing Worse After Pro-Life Speech

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 15, 2011   |   11:35AM   |   Trenton, NJ

A new poll conducted by Rutgers University claims the standing of Governor Chris Christie is worse among voters overall following a pro-life speech he gave in January in which he clearly articulated his views against abortion.

According to the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today, 54 percent of registered voters say his speech did not affect their opinion of the governor — but, of those who did say it affected their views, 31 percent say it made them feel worse about Christie, while 14 percent say his participation in the rally made them feel better.

“Abortion rights continue to have support in the state. It’s not surprising that Governor Christie’s public entrance into this issue has had somewhat negative consequences for him,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers.

But Marie Tasy, the director of New Jersey Right to Life, told the Rutgers Eagleton Poll “does not tell the whole story.”

“Rutgers’ purpose for this poll was to conclude that the Governor’s speech at our rally hurt the governor, but their own results show that 68% of those polled said that it either made them feel better about the governor or had no effect,” Tasy said.  “Among the female population, 67% said his speech either made them feel better about the Governor or had no effect on their opinion of him. Even among those who want abortion to remain legal in all circumstances, 45% said it had no effect on their opinion of the governor.”

Tasy also noted the poll found 58% of Democrats were not affected or felt better, 68% of Independents were not affected or felt better and 83% of Republicans were not affected adversely by the pro-life speech.

The poll also found New Jersey residents, unlike people living in most other states in the U.S., generally support abortion.

Just over a third (37 percent) say abortion should be legal under all conditions, and another 50 percent support legal abortion with restrictions, the poll indicated. Some 87 percent of New Jersey voters favor legalized abortion under at least some circumstances; 37 percent want no limits on the procedure, but 10 percent want it banned with no exceptions, the poll finds.

Nearly equal percentages of New Jersey Catholics and Protestants favor unconditional access to abortion (30 percent and 29 percent, respectively). An additional 55 percent of each group support legal abortion only under limited circumstances. The small sample of Jewish voters, however, strongly supports abortion as 71 percent say abortion should be legal in all cases. Only 13 percent of Catholics, 11 percent of Protestants, and 2 percent of Jews think that abortion should be illegal under all circumstances.

Tasy put the polling results in context.

“The poll also shows that a majority (60%) of all New Jerseyans favor restrictions on abortions and 57% of women favor restrictions on abortion. Probably the most promising result from the poll is that those in the 18-29 age range are the second most pro-life population with 63% of them favoring restrictions on abortion,” she said.

“Noticeably absent was a question on whether taxpayers should pay for abortion.  We challenge Rutgers Eagleton to poll voters on this important question and urge them to be more honest in their reporting of their own statistics in the future,” Tasy added.

During Christie’s speech, he said he stands with the pro-life movement in the state.

“What we need to do each and every day is to live our lives in a way that encourages everyone to understand why this cause is so important,” Christie said. ”To show that we respect the life of every human being, and that every human being is one of God’s creatures and deserves the love and respect that God gives to all us.”

“As long as I have the honor of serving as governor, you will know you will have someone sitting in that office who understands the issue, who appreciates it and will continue to stand up and speak strongly in favor for the protection of every human life in New Jersey,” he said.

Talking about his own views, Christie added: “As you all may know this is not an issue that I always understood nor was I always on your side. It is an issue I came to grow and learn about in a very personal way. My daughter Sarah will turn 15 in February. When I heard her heartbeat at three months in our doctor’s office, it was at that moment that it became clear to me that being on the sidelines on this issue was not something I could live with. I needed to speak out in favor of a very simple idea, that that child is a life which deserves protection.”