Seven-in-ten voters approve of the job New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is doing in a new poll released on Tuesday, and the Republican incumbent continues to lead Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono by 35 points in his November reelection bid -- leading the director of the Quinnipiac poll to say Christie's poll numbers have settled at a "now-routine astronomical level" following his performance during Hurricane Sandy last year.
In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, conducted March 19-24, 70 percent of voters approve of the way Christie is handling his job as governor, down a tick from the 74-percent rating he earned in two polls earlier this year. Just 23 percent disapprove of Christie, roughly equivalent to his performance in the three other polls since Sandy.
Christie leads the little-known Buono, 60 percent to 25 percent, the poll shows. Fifteen percent support another candidate, say they won't vote or are undecided. Christie leads Buono among independent voters, 69 percent to 15 percent.
With just over seven months until Election Day, Buono continues to face a significant obstacle in her lack of name recognition. Asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Buono, just one-in-ten voters view her favorably, and the same percentage have an unfavorable opinion of her. A staggering 79 percent of voters say they haven't heard enough about Buono to have an opinion. That is slightly fewer than the 83 percent who hadn't heard enough about her last month, but it shows her campaign has yet to engage the Garden State's electorate.
"Who is that woman?" asked pollster Mickey Carroll. "Everybody knows Christie and hardly anyone knows ... Buono, even though she's running an energetic, endorsement-rich campaign."
Buono -- the only announced Democrat in the race -- has unified the support of the state's Democratic establishment, even campaigning with popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker last week. EMILY's List -- the group dedicated to electing progressive, Democratic women -- has promised to actively contest the race and has already gone on the attack against Christie. But the Quinnipiac poll shows only a modest drop in Christie's approval rating, and no change in his personal favorability.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,129 registered voters, with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.9 percentage points.