HAMDEN, Conn., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- In the wake of the "Bridgegate" scandal, New Jersey voters see Gov. Chris Christie as a leader, not a bully, a poll released Wednesday indicated.
The Quinnipiac Poll found that 54 percent of respondents described Christie as a leader and 40 percent as a bully. In July 2012, the last time the polling institute at Quinnipiac University asked the question, 50 percent said Christie is a leader and 45 percent a bully.
"New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is doing better with the public than with the news media. His job approval has dropped from the stratosphere, but it's still double-digit positive, pretty much where he was before his Superstorm Sandy hug with President Barack Obama," said Maurice Carroll, the institute's director. "We stopped asking that 'bully' question 18 months ago. But we tried it again and, even with all the 'Bridgegate' stories, he still scores higher as a leader than as a bully. Except with Democrats. More than half of them still say 'bully' -- and not in a good way."
The poll was conducted between Friday and Monday, after reports hit the news media that emails showed Christie aides orchestrated a shutdown of access routes to the George Washington Bridge that paralyzed Fort Lee, N.J., for four days in September. Their actions were allegedly political payback aimed at either Fort Lee's mayor or state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat who represents the area.
The poll had other good news for Christie with 51 percent of respondents describing him as honest and trustworthy, 74 percent as a strong leader and 55 percent as someone who cares about their problems. Two-thirds, 66 percent, said they did not believe Christie was personally involved in the bridge closings, including 53 percent of Democrats.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,207 voters by telephone. The margin of error is 2.8 percent.