New Jersey Governor Christie's approval rating falls to lowest yet

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New Jersey Governor Christie's approval rating falls to lowest yet
BELMAR, NJ - MARCH 25: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laughs during a Town Hall Meeting with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at Belmar Borough Municipal Building on March 25, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Christie talked about some of the programs the state is running for homeowners, as well as efforts to build and restore dunes along the coast this spring,The governor was not asked about the George Washington Bridge lane-closure (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
FILE - This June 20, 2014, file photo shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority form in Washington. In advance of a potential 2016 presidential run, Christie has embraced a new signature issue, blasting the war on drugs as a trillion-dollar “failure.” He used his first major speech in front of an Evangelical conservative audience to again hammer the need for treatment over mass incarceration. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center, talks with members of the media at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 24, 2014, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering after he signed into law a bill that would extend the cap on arbitration awards to New Jersey's police and firefighters in front of the Statehouse Tuesday, June 24, 2014, in Trenton. Gov. Chris Christie's administration is facing an investigation into how it paid for a $1 billion repair of a New Jersey bridge. Two people said the investigation deals with whether funding for Pulaski Skyway repairs was misrepresented in bond documents by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
BELMAR, NJ - MARCH 25: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Town Hall Meeting with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at Belmar Borough Municipal Building on March 25, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Christie talked about some of the programs the state is running for homeowners, as well as efforts to build and restore dunes along the coast this spring,The governor was not asked about the George Washington Bridge lane-closure (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, speaks while former President Bill Clinton listens during the Clinton Global Initiative America's meeting, Friday, June 14, 2013, in Chicago. Clinton and Christie held a closing session titled "Cooperation and Collaboration: A Conversation on Leadership." (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)
BELMAR, NJ - MARCH 25: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Town Hall Meeting with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at Belmar Borough Municipal Building on March 25, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Christie talked about some of the programs the state is running for homeowners, as well as efforts to build and restore dunes along the coast this spring,The governor was not asked about the George Washington Bridge lane-closure (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gestures as he listens to a question as he addresses a gathering at Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center in Bridgewater, N.J., Wednesday, April 11, 2012. Days after returning from a trip to Israel, Christie met with Jewish leaders in New Jersey. Christie was in Jerusalem during Holy Week for a trade mission and tour. He then traveled to Jordan with his family before returning home on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
KEANSBURG, NJ - FEBRUARY 04: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a press conference with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at a lounge in the New Point Comfort Fire Company on February 4, 2014 in Keansburg, New Jersey. Christie, whose governorship is being threatened by a scandal is facing federal investigation over use of Sandy funds. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
EWING, NJ - OCTOBER 30: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie updates members of the media on damage and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Sandy from the emergency operations center at State Police Headquarters on October 30, 2012 in Ewing, New Jersey. High winds and a massive storm surge caused major destruction to the Jersey Shore and throughout the Garden State. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 29: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laughs while speaking during the Republican Jewish Coalition spring leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas on March 29, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat Christie look on during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament between the Connecticut Huskies and the Iowa State Cyclones at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative America's meeting in Chicago, Friday, June 14, 2013, as former President Bill Clinton listens. Christie is walking a political tightrope as he charts his future, trying to balancer his re-election campaign in a Democratic-leaning state with a potential presidential bid aimed at winning over Republicans. Clinton and Christie held a closing session titled "Cooperation and Collaboration: A Conversation on Leadership." (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)
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(Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continues to lose favor at home, with a poll on Monday showing his lowest approval rating as governor as he attempts to woo would-be voters in other U.S. states for a possible 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

New Jersey voters disapprove of the job Christie is doing by 56 percent to 38 percent, his lowest-ever approval rating, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

Voters gave him the lowest marks for his handling of the state budget, education, the economy and jobs. The results come just days after the state of New Jersey's credit rating was downgraded for a ninth time since Christie took office in January 2010.

Moody's Investors Service cut New Jersey to A2 with a negative outlook late on Thursday, citing "the lack of improvement in the state's weak financial position and large structural imbalance," stemming mostly from huge shortfalls in its public pension contributions.

Chris Christie Really Hasn't Evolved As A GOP Candidate

New Jersey is the second-lowest-rated U.S. state, behind only Illinois.

The state government had shortchanged the public employees' retirement system long before Christie, and under bipartisan reforms in 2011, he began ramping up funding. But last year, he slashed the Garden State's pension contributions because of a large, unexpected drop in tax revenues.

Labor unions sued over the issue and won in state court, but the Christie administration has appealed. Arguments are set for May 6 in New Jersey Supreme Court, which could force the state to add back the $1.6 billion of payments Christie cut and put further pressure on a strained budget.

Meanwhile, the state's job growth since the recession has lagged its neighbors and the country as a whole, recovering only 63 percent of the jobs it lost.

That is compared to 133 percent job recovery for the United States and 244 percent in neighboring New York state, according to the think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective.

The state's sluggish economic recovery would be fodder for opponents if Christie announces a run for the White House in a crowded Republican field.

Christie made a brief political circuit last week in New Hampshire, giving him a shot at recapturing the spotlight after being overshadowed by other presidential hopefuls like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

Quinnipiac's poll of 1,428 voters was conducted by phone from April 9-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York, editing by G Crosse)


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