NEW BRUNSWICK — Chris Christie's handling of Hurricane Sandy's aftermath has the New Jersey governor riding a wave of popularity.

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Thursday finds 67 percent of voters now have a favorable impression of Christie. That's one of the highest approval ratings recorded for a New Jersey governor.

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Nearly two-thirds of residents polled said the words "smart" and "strong leader" best described Christie. That's a huge turnaround from last March when the top traits were "stubborn" and "arrogant."

A majority of Democrats surveyed, 52 percent, said he's a strong leader.

The poll of 1,228 New Jersey adults was conducted from Nov. 14-17. Among them was a sub-sample of 1,108 registered voters that has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

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