New Jersey voters are split down the middle in their opinions of Gov. Chris Christie, according to a new poll released Thursday.
The Quinnipiac University Poll finds 44 percent of voters approving of his job performance. Forty-three percent disapprove.
Forty-four percent describe the first-term Republican governor as a "leader." Forty-three percent call him a "bully."
"Like him or not, it's clear Gov. Christopher Christie has brought a New Jersey bounce to the governor's office," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "A leader (hurrah) or a bully (boo, hiss)? We're divided about the governor."
Mixed as it may be, Christie's approval rating is actually higher than for any other elected leader in the state, according to the poll. Only President Obama, with a 50-46 percent approval rating scores higher.
Voters disapprove of the job U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg is doing by a 47-40 percent margin. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez has a 43-38 percent disapproval rating, according to the poll.
The state Legislature gets the worst marks of all: 62 percent disapprove of the way it's handling its job while only 19 percent approve.
Christie's policies also get mixed reviews.
By a 61-35 percent margin, voters disapprove of his $820 million cut in aid to public schools.
But 67 percent like his proposed constitutional amendment to limit property tax increases to 2.5 percent annually; only 25 percent oppose it.
By 61-33 percent, voters say Christie should have signed a bill to increase taxes on millionaires.
Nearly two-thirds of voters with children in the public schools say they like their teachers, but most (53 percent) have a negative opinion of the teachers union. And 64 percent say teachers unions are doing the wrong thing by refusing to accept wage freezes or benefits concessions.
All things considered, voters say they're not real happy with life in the Garden State these days.
Seventy-five percent say they're "somewhat dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied." Quinnipiac says that's the worst satisfaction rating it's ever recorded for New Jersey.
The poll surveyed 1,461 voters from June 10-15. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.