Despite a majority of New Jersey voters saying they support equal marriage, the state’s Governor, who remains firmly opposed to it, still holds a strong lead in the polls.

A poll, run by Rutgers-Eagleton in April, found that an overwhelming majority of New Jersey residents would want a referendum on the issue, and more than half have said they would support equal marriage.

A Quinnipiac University poll released today found that Governor Chris Christie remained 29 points ahead of Democratic challenger Barbara Buono among New Jersey voters.

New Jersey Judge Mary Jacobson recently ruled that because the US federal government now recognises same-sex marriage, the state government in New Jersey would violate its constitution by not doing so. She said same-sex marriages should take place from 21 October.

The administration of Governor Chris Christie has appealed the decision at the state Supreme Court, also asking Judge Jacobson to place a stay on equal marriage until the court rules.

While 61% of voters said Christie should drop his appeal against the decision, just 32% of respondents supported his appeal.

Christie has a 63% to 31% favorability rating, while Buono has a negative 29 to 35%rating.

“Sen. Barbara Buono has been out in front on women’s issues long before she was a candidate, but Gov. Christopher Christie has a huge 23-point lead among women voters part of his 2 to 1 dominance overall,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Maybe their debate will boost her name recognition, but one-third of New Jersey voters still don’t know enough about Sen. Buono to make an up-or-down decision.”

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,144 likely voters from Oct. 5 to 7. It has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points. It does not take into account the debate between Buono and Christie on Tuesday.

Back in July, Buono called on Christie to “step out of the way”, and allow Republican legislators to vote on an equal marriage bill.

Former cast-member of the popular Jersey Shore television series JWoww last week called the Governor “retarded” for continuing to fight against equal marriage in the state. She later apologised for her use of the word, but stood by her opinion of him.

The US Supreme Court in June struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and ruled that civil unions do not provide the same benefits as marriage.

Christie in June said the opposite, and that the strike-down of DOMA “was wrong”.

Back in February, Democrats in the New Jersey legislature said they would attempt to override Governor Chris Christie’s equal marriage veto from last year, and have now agreed to put the question of marriage equality to voters in November, if they cannot override it.

Alongside Pennsylvania, New Jersey was the only north east state where same-sex marriage is not legal.