By Hilary Russ
(Reuters) - New Jersey residents are becoming increasingly skeptical of the motives of Governor Chris Christie and think he is more focused on his own political future than governing the state, according to a poll on Wednesday.
Two-thirds of adults polled by Monmouth University said Christie put his political ambitions ahead of running New Jersey, up from 56 percent in a poll in September.
Christie, a Republican who is likely to seek his party's 2016 presidential nomination, is scheduled to return on Wednesday morning from a trade mission to London.
It was the latest of many trips overseas and across the United States, which have prompted questions about who has paid for his travel. The state's economy is struggling more than most to recover from the recession.
The poll showed that 65 percent thought his trip to the United Kingdom was designed mainly to boost his presidential prospects.
The trip was described by Christie's administration as a way to promote his state's life sciences industry. He also took in a soccer match and met the prime minister.
A large portion of the shift in thinking about Christie's focus comes from members of his own party. More than half of Republicans told Monmouth pollsters that they think Christie's ambitions are his paramount concern. In September, only a third believed that.
"Even New Jersey Republicans are starting to wonder whether Governor Christie is treating his day job as an afterthought," said Patrick Murray, director of the New Jersey-based Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a statement.
Christie canceled three scheduled press appearances on Tuesday amid a controversy over his comments that parents needed some choice on whether to vaccinate their children.
Monmouth's poll also showed that Democrat Hillary Clinton would handily beat Christie in a presidential election 58 percent to 32 percent among New Jersey voters.
Against former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, another likely 2016 Republican candidate, Christie would fare better at 40 percent versus 36 percent, according to the poll.
The telephone poll of 805 New Jersey adults was conducted from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. The sample has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)