Doubt looms over report clearing Christie

Most New Jerseyans aren’t buying the report released last week from an internal review of the George Washington Bridge scandal that absolved New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) of responsibility for the lane closures, according to a new poll.

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The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll, conducted among 803 New Jersey adults, shows 52 percent of those who have heard about the report believe it was done to help Christie’s reputation, while just 30 percent say it was a fair and unbiased investigation of the situation.

The review of the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that led to severe traffic in Fort Lee, N.J. over four days as an apparent act of political retribution was conducted by a law firm with ties to Christie. His critics have pointed to that, as well as the fact that the report’s authors weren’t able to interview most of the central actors in the scheme, as evidence the report was at best deficient and at worst written to boost Christie.

But the attorney leading the review process defended the firm’s work and said that because two investigations currently underway by the State Legislature and the United States attorney for New Jersey will be made public in coming weeks, “we have to work even harder to make sure we get it right.”

And Christie has touted the results as evidence his proclamation of innocence in regards to the lane closures were honest all along. Since the report's release, he's stepped back onto the public stage after largely keeping to himself as the scandal unraveled.

Though the scandal hurt his standing among potential Republican presidential contenders, and in his own state, the new survey does show Christie’s approval rating, which dropped precipitously after the emails and texts linking his administration to the closures went public, appears to have stabilized.

Fifty-one percent of New Jerseyans approve of the job he’s doing, while 41 percent disapprove, largely unchanged from a February poll. 

But it also indicates Christie’s bridge troubles may not be over. A plurality of respondents, 47 percent, do believe he was involved in the decision to close the lanes. Thirty-eight percent believe he wasn’t directly involved in the closures.

And 61 percent of those polled still believe Christie hasn’t been entirely honest about what he knows about the closures, compared to 32 percent who do think he’s told the public all he knows. That’s unchanged from February.

The survey was conducted from March 30-April 1 via landline and cell phones and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.