MADISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Seven in 10 registered voters in New Jersey surveyed believe the country is on the wrong track and many blame President Barack Obama as speculation about Gov. Chris Christie’s bid for the White House continues.

Thursday’s PublicMind Poll released by Fairleigh Dickinson University finds fewer than one-fifth of voters surveyed said the nation was headed in the right direction. That’s the survey’s lowest result since October 2008.

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“That is a steep dive from the 34 percent who said the country was going in the right direction in May,” political scientist and director of the poll Peter Woolley said in a statement. “You have to go back to the last days of the Bush administration to find such pessimism.”

The poll found that just four months ago, one-third said the nation was heading the right way.

Obama’s approval rating was 44 percent, down from 56 percent in May. The results mark the first time Obama’s approval rating was weaker in the poll.

The telephone survey of 800 randomly registered voters was conducted Sept. 19-25 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The read the full poll, click here.

Meanwhile, support seems to be growing for Christie to enter the 2012 presidential race.

Pundits say Republicans want Christie because he gives the GOP its best shot of unseating Obama.

“They believe he’s more rational. He’s not right; he’s not left and he can actually win and they’d love to have somebody from the Northeast,” political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said. “He can box Obama’s ears in in a place where he should do very well.”

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But in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California on Tuesday, Christie reaffirmed he’s not running for president.

Christie later said he was flattered by suggestions he should run in 2012, but added, “that reason has to reside inside me.”

He also told a woman begging him to reconsider that he was “touched” by her plea.

Mitt Romney is brushing aside the fresh speculation about whether Christie will jump into the Republican sweepstakes, saying “I can’t decide what other folks do.”

The former Massachusetts governor told MSNBC in an interview he believes the talk of a Christie entry is all part of the glaring media spotlight on politics. He says, “You’ve got to find some excitement. You’ve got to have some intrigue.”

But Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, said it’s “plain and simple too late” for anyone to join the GOP field. But he said different candidates have different reasons for keeping the speculation alive.

Chris Christie has a future and needs to be protective of his future. All this interest helps him raise money for Republican candidates and enjoy one last flirtation,” Fleischer said.

On Thursday, Christie will be in Louisiana for a fundraiser for  Gov. Bobby Jindal.

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