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Gov. Christie's trustworthiness takes a hit in New Jersey poll

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[March 11, 2014]  NEW YORK (Reuters)  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie casts himself as a straight-talking everyman, but as scandal swirls around his administration, the number of state voters who see him as trustworthy has fallen dramatically, a poll said on Tuesday.

Fewer than a quarter of New Jersey voters say "trustworthy" applies very well to Christie  down 20 points from October, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Still, more than half of state voters see the charismatic Republican governor, who is seen as a leading contender for the White House in 2016, as a "strong leader."

"Trustworthy was one of Christie's hallmarks, especially given voters' normal cynicism about politicians," said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. "Losing the trust of voters puts Christie into the category of an ordinary politician."

Christie, who sailed to re-election in November, has seen his popularity take a hit following the release of emails showing his top aides ordering traffic changes that caused massive snarls, apparently to punish a Democratic mayor who had declined to endorse Christie's re-election.

Christie has said he was blindsided by the revelations, and he fired the aides connected to the scandal.

In January, accusations surfaced that Christie's aides had tied storm assistance to a political favor.

Also on Monday, local media reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan had subpoenaed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for records regarding the business dealings of the agency's chairman, David Samson, a Christie appointee.

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The statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points and was conducted from February 22 to February 28. A sub-sample of 729 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Cynthia Osterman)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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