We added a couple questions to our latest statewide poll asking New Jerseyans how it’s going with their New Year’s resolutions. What they told us was a little surprising – only about a quarter said they even made any resolutions! How about that? Anyway, our release on this is below. A little break from all the political stuff we keep bringing you. (And the end of this round of poll releases!)
Full text of the release is below. For a PDF of the release with questions and tables click here.
NEW JERSEYANS’ MOST POPULAR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: NOT TO MAKE ANY, RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL FINDS
More than half who make resolutions find them difficult to keep
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – For many Americans, New Year’s brings to mind Times Square, fresh resolutions and a sense of renewal. So with the impending arrival of spring, why not look at how New Jerseyans are doing with their New Year’s resolutions – that is, if they had made them.
Despite talking the resolutions talk, few are actually walking the resolutions walk: Garden Staters generally skipped this yearly tradition, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Only about a quarter of registered voters say they participated in the annual activity.
For those relatively few who made a resolution, getting and staying healthy was the most common goal (24 percent), followed by losing weight (15 percent) and saving money (10 percent). Fewer than half are finding it easy to stick to their promise, while 56 percent say it is either very or somewhat difficult to follow through.
“New Jerseyans generally avoided making promises to themselves for 2012,” said poll Director David Redlawsk, a professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. “Perhaps that’s all for the best, since keeping resolutions seems to be no easy task.”
Results are from questions added to a statewide Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of 914 registered voters conducted with landline and cell phone households from Feb. 9-11. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. The subsample of 223 people keeping resolutions has a margin of error of +/- 6.6 percent points.
College grads, the middle-aged, Republicans most likely to make resolutions
Having gone to college seems to increase the likelihood of making resolutions; 30 percent of college graduates made promises, compared to only 17 percent of voters who did not continue past high school. Age also appears to have an influence on resolution making: one third of 30- to 49- year-olds took part in the ritual, compared to only 16 percent of voters of 65 and older.
“It would seem that making resolutions is more for the young,” said Redlawsk. “Older folks have probably already tried it in the past and failed miserably. People appear to learn from experience the likely futility of the whole exercise.”
Gender, on the other hand, plays no role in either making resolutions or keeping them. “For once in our polling we find no gender gap at all,” said Redlawsk.
Oddly enough, party affiliation is much more important as Republicans were more “resolute” by a 36 percent to 26 percent margin over Democrats. But GOP backers are much more likely to have trouble keeping their resolutions: two-thirds express difficulty compared to half the Democrats. “It’s yet another example of today’s hyperpolarized world,” said Redlawsk.
Top resolution: stay healthy
Among traditionalists, the most common promise is to get or stay healthy. Losing weight is the runner-up, with saving money third. Respondents showed gender equality on health-related resolutions but more men, by 10 percentage points, vowed to save money.
“Health is clearly on the minds of voters,” Redlawsk reported, noting that an additional 5 percent hoped to quit smoking. He acknowledged the gender difference about saving may play into a “certain stereotype” about shopping, but preferred not to comment further on this point.
Most have only some difficulty keeping resolutions
Two months into the New Year, few New Jerseyans admit to being “locked in an epic battle” with their resolutions, Redlawsk said, but many have at least some difficulty keeping them. While only 16 percent of resolution makers say they are very difficult to keep, 40 percent admit to having a “somewhat difficult” time. Slightly more claim they have no trouble living up to their promises.
Respondents ages 30 to 49 – the most likely to make resolutions – also claim the most success. Almost half say their resolutions are “not too difficult” to maintain, while 14 percent are struggling with a very difficult resolution.
“Our guess is that older respondents don’t make resolutions because of their miserable failure keeping them in their youth, or that middle-aged respondents are not exactly forthcoming” said Redlawsk. “It’s a little difficult to tell from the data.”