The summer tends to be a bit slow here at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Most of our students are off doing summery things, and we’re working hard on planning the next year. But this year we have a poll underway right now, with results to begin being released around the middle of next week. It will be some of the usual – the US Senate race, how Gov. Christie’s doing, and the like, but we’re also working on some interesting questions in cooperation with folks at the New Jersey Medical School, asking about health-related issues. Those results will be released a bit later, after we’ve had time to do some detailed analysis. In the meantime, watch for new numbers on Christie, Booker, and even bridgegate (remember that?)
Category Archives: NJ Voters
One great thing about the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll is that there is so much history recorded over the past 43 years the poll has been around. Today we tap into that history as we look at current attitudes toward marijuana legalization in New Jersey, looking back to 1972 when we first polled on the issue. We did something similar in 2011, in celebration of our 40th anniversary, but the recent talk about full legalization of pot made us think we should look again. And, to their credit, a group of students in Dave Redlawsk’s Public Opinion Class argued for the topic as well.
Our findings show that support for loosening the reins on recreational marijuana continues to grow, and at the same time, partisan differences on the issue are getting larger. A fascinating aspect of looking back to 1972 is finding that Democrats and Republicans were not very far apart on the issue back then; about 4 points separated the two groups of partisans, and neither was particularly supportive. In fact it was independents who were most supportive of lessened marijuana penalties in 1972. But fast forward to 2014, and the differences are stark, as they are for many other issues. A majority of both Democrats and independents now favors complete legalization, while just 28 percent of Republicans agree. Republican opinions on the issue have changed little over the years, while Democrats and independents have become much more supportive.
The text of the release follows.
SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION AMONG NEW JERSEYANS IS STRONGER THAN EVER, FOUR DECADES OF POLLING REVEALS
Attitudes Increasingly Divided by Partisanship in Recent Years
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – With the 1960s and 70s drug counterculture a hazy memory for most New Jerseyans, voters in the state have become more laid back than ever about marijuana, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. With recreational marijuana legalization becoming a hot topic across the nation, two-thirds of voters here now say penalties for use should be reduced. This compares to 58 percent of voters in a November 2011 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, and 40 percent of adults in a May 1972 report. Only 29 percent now oppose the relaxation of marijuana use penalties.
Attitudes toward marijuana possession show a similar pattern over the past four decades. In 1972, 34 percent of adults supported the elimination of all penalties for the possession of small amounts, while 56 percent were opposed. Today it is reversed: 65 percent of voters now support eliminating marijuana possession penalties, while 33 percent remain opposed.
In light of societal changes and apparent success in Colorado with legalization, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari introduced a bill in the Legislature to legalize the sale and use of marijuana. But despite strong support for reduced penalties, legalization gets much weaker support: 49 percent agree with complete legalization and 48 percent disagree. Even so, this is a 14-point rise from 2011 and a 28-point difference from adults of 42 years ago.
“New Jersey voters reflect the national trend toward less severe attitudes about marijuana,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “During the 1970s and into 1981, there was some movement on the issue, but little policy change, so we didn’t poll on it again for 30 years. When we finally asked again about marijuana in 2011, we saw signs of liberalization, a trend that has only accelerated since then.”
While Colorado appears to have raked in new tax revenue from legalizing pot, New Jersey voters are split over whether the possibility of more money for the state coffers should lead to making the drug legal here. A quarter of voters strongly agree that the potential for significant state revenue is a good reason to legalize the drug, while another quarter somewhat agree. But 19 percent somewhat disagree and 27 percent strongly disagree with this proposition.
Results are from a statewide poll of 816 New Jersey adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from March 31 to April 6, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 731 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.
Support from Democrats grows; Republicans much less so
While support for marijuana decriminalization has increased dramatically, the divide between political partisans has also grown. In 1972, Democrats and Republicans held similar views: about 40 percent of each party agreed with reducing penalties for pot use, while 53 percent of independents were in favor. By 2011, 64 percent of Democratic voters and 58 percent of independents supported penalty reductions, but just only 44 percent of Republicans agreed.
Current GOP preferences continue to show little change. Forty-six percent support reduced penalties, 47 percent are opposed. Meanwhile, Democratic and independent support has grown to 75 percent and 69 percent, respectively. “We think of Democrats as liberal on social issues, but 40 years ago they didn’t look much different from Republicans on pot use,” noted Redlawsk. “But as Republicans maintained the status quo, Democrats moved strongly in favor of reducing penalties, increasing the gap between them from four points in 1972 to 28 points today.”
Republicans show more change on eliminating possession penalties (12 points over 42 years), although they remain staunchly opposed and increasingly different from Democrats and independents. In 1972, 29 percent of GOP adults, 38 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents supported decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the drug. This nine-point gap between the two parties doubled in 2011, when 42 percent of Republican voters and 60 percent of Democrats supported decriminalization. Support among independents grew 11 points stronger.
Today, 74 percent of Democrats voters – nearly double the share in 1972 – want to see possession penalties dropped, versus just 41 percent of Republicans. Only 24 percent of Democrats are opposed, compared to 56 percent of Republicans. Democrats have also caught up to the 71 percent of independent voters who support decriminalization.
In keeping with broader trends, New Jersey voters of all partisan leanings show increased support for completely legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana, although to greatly varying degrees. For the first time, more than half of Democratic and independent voters support legalization, with Democratic support almost tripling since 1972, when only 21 percent of Democratic adults agreed with making pot legal. Between 2011 and 2014, support increased by 17 points.
While 30 percent of independent adults supported legalization 1972, by 2011 the number was still only 37 percent of independent voters. Since then, their support has climbed to 53 percent.
Republican support has doubled over four decades from 14 percent to 28 percent. However, 69 percent of GOP voters today remain against legalization, and the gap between the parties on fully legal pot has quadrupled since 1972 to 29 points.
Generation gap on pot has shrunk, except for legalization
The large generation gap on marijuana decriminalization and penalties from 40 years ago has all but disappeared, except on the question of full legalization. In 1972, two-thirds of adults in their twenties supported reduced penalties for marijuana use versus 24 percent of those 60 and older. That under-30 cohort – now in their 60s and 70s – is even more supportive now, at 72 percent of voters. Meanwhile, 70 percent of today’s millennial voters (18- to 34-years-old) approve decreased penalties, about the same share as their long-ago peers. What was once a 42-point gap between younger and older generations has all but vanished.
More than 60 percent of voters in nearly all age groups support removing possession penalties today, closing age differences that were still apparent in 2011, and were even larger in 1972. But those who were over age 30 in 1972 and are now at least 72 are far less supportive.
Full legalization is a somewhat different story. In 1972, New Jerseyans under age 30 were more likely to favor full legalization than those over 60 that year, 44 percent to 10 percent. Some of this generation gap remains visible today. As 1972’s under youngest residents have aged, their cohort’s opinions have changed very little: 48 percent of today’s voters, 60 to 72, support full legal access to marijuana. Meanwhile the youngest 2014 voters are even stronger supporters, 61 percent to 39 percent. The result is a 13-point generation gap, less than half of what it was 42 years ago.
Mimicking younger voters, more than half of 50 to 64-year olds support legalization. But more in line with today’s seniors, voters who mostly came of age in the Reagan-Bush years (now ages 35 to 49) are more likely to oppose (52 percent) than support (44 percent) legalization of recreational marijuana. “It is pretty clear that the changes we are seeing on marijuana attitudes are less about changing minds than about changing times,” said Redlawsk. “As younger cohorts became adults, they have simply had more liberal attitudes than the older voters they replaced.”
Marijuana sales as tax revenue
Despite support for decriminalization, voters here are clearly split on following in Colorado’s footsteps and fully legalizing the drug with an eye toward the potential for increased state revenue from taxes on its sales. Six in 10 Democrats say they at least somewhat agree with the financial rationale for legalization, as do more than half of independents. Two-thirds of Republicans disagree; most feel strongly. Millennials are much more likely than older voters to agree with legalizing marijuana for tax revenue. More than two-thirds who support reduced penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana also support legalizing the drug for revenue purposes. Among all those favoring complete legalization, 86 percent support the financial rationale for doing so.
The Internet, the Gubernatorial Election, and Vote Choice
Caitie Sullivan and Mihir Dixit
Caitlin Sullivan is a data visualization and graphic representation intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a senior at Rutgers-New Brunswick with plans to graduate in January 2014. Mihir Dixit is also a data visualization intern. He is a first year undergraduate student in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers.
Both gubernatorial candidates this past election cycle in New Jersey were quite tech savvy throughout the campaign – maintaining Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and more. It is therefore interesting to take a look at how big a role the Internet played among the electorate and how voters differently used the Internet throughout the campaign to learn about and interact with the candidates. While Christie’s frequent usage of the web – particularly social media – is widely known, his supporters this past election season were surprisingly not as “connected” to the Internet as their governor or Buono supporters. Whether Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or blogs and news sites, those Internet users who voted for Buono were more likely than Christie voters to say they used these online tools.
The differences between Christie and Buono voters in what online tools they use mainly stem from social media usage. More Internet-using Buono voters than Christie voters used Twitter to keep track of the election – 12 percent versus 7 percent. There was also a clear difference in the percentage of Internet-using voters for each candidate who reported using Facebook to monitor the election. Twenty-one percent of Christie voters used Facebook to acquire information about the race, versus 26 percent of Buono voters. The widest margin between Christie voters and Buono voters was for YouTube. While the video sharing website remained unpopular with 12 percent of Christie voters, almost double the number of Buono voters – 22 percent – reported having used it as an informational resource. Christie and Buono voters were more similar in their use of blogs or news websites: 12 percent of Christie voters and 13 percent of Buono voters said they used this source for election-related news.
These differences in online sources are most likely attributable to the different characteristics underlying Christie voters and Buono voters and not necessarily directly to the vote choice itself. Despite Christie’s frequent activity online, his supporters – many who are Republicans like Christie – tend to be older and therefore not as likely to use the Internet and especially social media. Buono supporters, on the other hand, are made up of mainly Democrats and younger voters, who are especially prone to using the Internet. Therefore, the differing usage of these various Internet tools between Christie voters and Buono voters may be more about the demographics typically most associated with each candidate’s party than simply who they would vote for in the election.
Clicking on and Connecting to the 2013 New Jersey Governor’s Race
Ashley Koning is Manager of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Rutgers University.
The Internet has become an increasingly integral tool for both voters and politicians alike during campaign seasons, and this past year’s gubernatorial race in New Jersey was no exception. Gov. Christie has always been technologically savvy – with Twitter accounts, a YouTube channel, thousands of hits on his YouTube videos, and a continually updated Facebook page. Christie’s Democratic opponent, State Sen. Barbara Buono, was also quite active on social media and the Internet in general during the race, often relying on YouTube and Twitter to disseminate messages at low cost due to limited campaign funds. Voters, likewise, had many opportunities to interact with the candidates online throughout the campaign –watching live streaming video of the debates, “liking” or “following” the candidates, reading live blog updates on Election Day, and more.
In our final pre-election poll from October 28 – November 2, we asked some follow-up questions to the 52 percent of voters who said they used the Internet in some way to get information about the governor’s race during the past election season. These questions explored more in depth what Internet tools this subset accessed to get election news or interact with the candidates. Internet-using voters were specifically asked about their usage of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs or news sites, and any candidate websites.
Unfortunately, in our first two days of polling, a coding error occurred in this internet source question that prevents us from looking at the details for respondents we interviewed those two days. We can nonetheless explore responses for the remaining four days when the coding error was corrected. As it turns out, even if we only look at the last fours days of our poll, we still find 52 percent saying they used the internet for the Gubernatorial campaign. Given the nature of our call center operation, this makes sense, as each day of calling collects a new random sample of NJ voters.
Among the 52 percent who used the internet to get candidate information, about two-thirds said they used one of the specific internet tools we asked about. The other third presumably used other means that we did not include.
Among the voters who used one of the five specified sources, most stuck to using just one or two instead of a combination of them: 58 percent used only one of the tools, 27 percent used two of them, and just 14 percent used three or more.
Candidate websites dominated source usage. Almost half of all internet-using voters who received the follow-up questions – 45 percent – said they used the candidates’ websites to interact with the candidates or get information about the election. No other source came close: only 9 percent specifically got information or interacted with the candidates via Twitter, 24 percent via Facebook, 16 percent via YouTube, and 12 percent via blogs or news sites. When we look at the entire sample including those who do not use the Internet, the number of voters who used each Internet source becomes even smaller: only about 5 percent of all voters used Twitter, 12 percent Facebook, 9 percent YouTube, 6 percent blogs or news sites, and 23 percent candidate websites.
In general, Twitter users were typically the most or the second most likely to use one of the other four specified Internet sources: over two-thirds of Twitter users also used Facebook, over a third also used YouTube, more than 4 in 10 also accessed blogs, and over half also visited candidate websites. But users of other sources were very unlikely to access Twitter, blog and news visitors being the most likely at 32 percent also using Twitter and candidate website visitors being the least likely at 11 percent also using Twitter. Users of all sources were highly likely to access Facebook, on the other hand – especially other social media users (Twitter and Facebook). But candidate websites were the most popular among all types of users, with anywhere from four in ten to six in ten users of other Internet source types visiting these particular sites.
Of course we know that these numbers will fluctuate if we take a closer look within different groups – especially among those groups that we know differ on Internet usage in general. Therefore, throughout the next few days, some of our undergraduate staff members will take a closer look at how these trends in using the Internet during the governor’s race differ by important voter demographics – in particular, age and gubernatorial vote choice.
Did the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll have a “Bradley Effect” in Our Final U.S. Senate Results?
Bear with us, this is a LONG post…
In our final pre-Senate special election poll, we had Newark Mayor (and now U.S. Senator) Cory Booker up 22 points over his opponent, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. The real-world results were different – Booker’s margin was “only” 12 points or so. At the time we speculated on many reasons that our numbers could have been off on the head-to-head question, especially given that we did not see significant levels of variance with other polls on questions such as Booker and Lonegan favorability ratings. We speculated some more the day after the election looking at turnout, but also noting that we wondered if the fact that Booker is an African-American may have played a role. We have since done some fairly complex statistical analysis to examine this question. The upshot is that we see a very clear “race/ethnicity of interviewer” effect in our data; that is, our Black and Hispanic interviewers got more “Booker” votes from among the white respondents they talked to than did our white and Asian callers. And, our white callers got fewer “Booker” votes among Black and Hispanic respondents than did our non-white callers.
This is a complex phenomenon that has previously been documented by researchers, in particular in the aftermath of the 1993 Virginia governor’s race when polls badly overstated support for Doug Wilder, the African American candidate who won, but by a much smaller margin than expected. This is commonly been called the “Bradley Effect“. The argument is that respondents “guess” the race of callers and some will then adjust their responses to conform to what the believe is the caller’s expectation. Whether or not that is exactly what happens, the fact is that the data in our case seem to show exactly that happening.
Now, is the effect enough to account for being off by 10 points? That’s harder to calculate. However, our call center is very diverse – among the 113 student callers working on that poll, 25% were white, 19% Black, 47% Asian, and 11% Hispanic. Across the board our callers averaged about 7 completes per caller, with some variation by race/ethnicity. Overall, 22% of the 695 respondents for whom we have caller data were collected by white callers, 22% by Black callers, 46% by Asian callers, and 10% by Hispanic callers.
So here’s what we have – this is using all our respondents, NOT adjusting for Likely Voters. (Making that adjustment does not make any difference in our basic results.) First the unweighted responses to the question: “Let’s talk about the Senate election in October. If the special election for the Senate seat were being held today and the candidates were [ROTATE ORDER: Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan], for whom would you vote?” (Note, that we did a followup to the don’t knows, asking how they “lean”. We will ignore this right now and focus only on the initial question.)
Note we have a 22 point margin between Booker and Lonegan in the raw unweighted data, about the same as we had in the final weighted sample. The “Refused” represents people who would not answer the question at all, and the “System” are people who were not asked because they said in an initial screening question they would not be voting.
So what happens if we look at these responses by race of interviewer?
Now we are only dealing with the 721 people who gave us a response to the question. Note that White interviewers got 50.3% support for Booker. But Black interviewers got 59.5%. Hispanic interviewers found even more Booker support: 62%. Finally, Asian interviewers (the largest group in our call center) found 49.9% support for Booker, pretty much the same as white interviewers.
Next we look at the percentage support for BOOKER by a combination of the Respondent’s race/ethnicity and the caller’s race/ethnicity. This now uses 697 respondents for whom we have their race (a significant number always refuse to answer that question.)
The raw numbers (Total Column) show that 49.6% of these white respondents supported Booker, while Booker support was 91.1% of Black respondents, 80.0% of Hispanics, and 51.2% of other. Other in this case includes Asian, multiracial, and any other response to the question. These are essentially “normal” results in that we expect Black and Hispanic voters to be more supportive of Booker.
Looking at the Total ROW at the bottom, we see that for White callers, 50.7% of all their respondents supported Booker, with a similar result (50.5%) for Asian callers. But for Black callers, 60.1% of respondents supported Booker, while for Hispanic callers it was 65.2%; both are well above the total 56.3% Booker support among this set of respondents.
More importantly, note that WHITE respondents talking to WHITE callers gave Booker 49.2% support. But when talking to Black or Hispanic callers, white respondents were more likely to report a Booker vote, at 54.9% and 58.0% respectively. This effect has been documented in the past, including in the Wilder race for VA governor in 1993.
We see another interesting effect with non-white respondents, though we have to be very careful here since we have relatively few of them, so any one group could be highly skewed. But in general, non-white respondents who talked to white callers, were less likely to report Booker votes than when they talked to non-white callers.
All of this is interesting but it doesn’t account for the possibility that callers of different races/ethnicities may have talked to different kinds of respondents. As a simple example, if white callers were more likely to talk to Republicans (regardless of respondent race), while non-white callers talked more to Democrats, we would see the same pattern but it would not be because of the race/ethnicity of the caller. To deal with this we must do a more complex multivariate analysis to control for these kinds of differences.
We won’t go into the details of the statistical analysis here, but it was designed to control for key factors that affect the vote choice – partisanship, ideology, and voter race/ethnicity, and voter gender. That means that we make sure the differences we see in the vote by caller race/ethnicity are NOT because of these factors. We added in one more control, that for what is termed in political science as “Racial Resentment” (see also here), a measure of “subtle anti-Black feeling”. We included this because Booker is African American and research has shown that this measure helps predict the likelihood of voting for a Black candidate.
By using multivariate statistics (specifically logistic regression) to predict the likelihood of a vote for Booker based on the controls above AND the race/ethnicity of our callers, we can examine the extent to which we see caller race/ethnicity conditioning poll responses. Follow is what we find:
The first row of data shows all respondents by the race of the interviewer. Results are very similar to the initial table before we control for other factors. Across everyone, voters who talked to Black and Hispanic callers were more likely to say they would vote for Booker than those who talked to white and Asian callers.
As the table shows, there are differences across the race/ethnicity of respondents. Looking only at white voters, they remain more likely to tell Black and Hispanic callers they support Booker. For Black and Hispanic voters, talking to a white caller seems to lower the likelihood of reporting support for Booker, compared to talking to non-white callers. And because the model used for this prediction controls for partisanship and other factors, we are pretty confident that the results are in fact related to the race and ethnicity of callers and the race/ethnicity of voters.
To check this, we also ran similar models with the Buono-Christie responses from the same poll (where our results were in line with everyone else’s in mid-October) which show no effects for race/ethnicity of interviewer. Even more interesting, we also tested this model with the evaluation we asked voters to give to Booker (called a “feeling thermometer rating”) on a 0-100 scale, and we found no significant effects for race/ethnicity of callers. The issue seems limited to the question of the vote itself, and not other questions.
So what does this all mean?
For the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, it means that our pre-election numbers which overstated Booker support were, at least in part, because we have a very diverse call center, probably much more diverse than any other call center that polled on this election. It also means we will have to look more carefully at how we handle election polling when there is a non-white candidate in the mix.
And it also means that in an election like this, with an African-American candidate, polling that does not use interviewers – like computerized polls where respondents listed to a computer ask the question and respond on their phone keypads, known as “interactive voice response” – may result in more accurate results, at least for those who can be reached this way. However, IVR cannot be used to call cell phones, so at a minimum it would be necessary to combined IVR with live calling of cell phones in order to get a reasonable sample of the population. This is what Monmouth did in its pre-election polls, apparently to good effect. IVR has other issues, though, and has to be looked at very carefully.
If you’ve made it this far in this very long post, congratulations! Bottom line for us: our final pre-election Booker-Lonegan poll was off by 10 points, overstating Booker’s numbers. We now think a least some significant part of that error is due to this race/ethnicity of interviewer effect as the evidence shows.
Of course, this does NOT explain our problem in the final Christie-Buono poll, where we were off by 14 points (showing Christie up 36 points while he won by 22.) Given the evidence from the October poll where our numbers for the governor’s race fit with other polling centers results, something else must have happened in our final gubernatorial poll. Apparently we suffered from one problem in the Senate race, but something else in the race for governor. We’re currently moving forward on trying to understand what that might have been. We’ll report more on that effort in the (we hope) not-too-distant future.
Well, once again there are widely varying polls in the last days of an election. And once again we’re at the high end, though this time we are more Republican than some others. Today while we show Gov. Christie with a massive 36 point lead, Monmouth puts the race at 20 points. But this time we’re not alone since a few days ago Quinnipiac gave Christie a 33 point lead and today they say 28 points.
A quick look at Monmouth shows the big difference is due in large part to the reported partisan vote. They have Buono winning 70% of Democrats. In our poll only 59% of Democrats said they are sticking with Buono while 38% support Christie. This alone accounts for some 2/3 of the difference between the polls. The new Quinnipiac Poll today splits the difference here as it does overall – they have Buono winning 64% of Democrats, halfway between us and Monmouth.
Our differences with Quinnipiac are relatively trivial, and within our respective margins of margins of error. But Monmouth definitely tells a different story.
CHRISTIE MAY BE GAINING ‘COATTAILS’ AS BUONO’S BASE ABANDONS HER
Governor holds better than 2-1 lead over challenger
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – In the final hours before New Jersey’s gubernatorial election, Gov. Chris Christie’s lead over state Sen. Barbara Buono has grown to 36 points among likely voters, up 10 points in the last month, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Christie’s 66 percent to 30 percent margin may also be helping Republican Assembly and Senate candidates, as voters prefer Democrats keep control of the Legislature by only seven points, down from 12 points in early September.
Christie’s increasing home stretch lead reflects a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats for Buono, leading to decreased levels of attention to the race and a lower likelihood of voting. While 95 percent of Republicans support Christie, only 59 percent of Democrats plan to vote for Buono.
“Over the past month, Christie’s campaign appears to have convinced more Democrats to abandon Buono,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Whether Democrats are switching to Christie or just planning to stay home, the small gains Buono had made with her party base over previous months have been reversed. The risk is great for Democrats up and down the ballot if uninspired party faithful fail to turn out.”
In a generic statewide ballot test, likely voters give Assembly Democrats just a six-point margin, 42 percent to 36 percent, nearly erasing what was a 17-point Democratic lead in early September. The state Senate vote is similar: 44 percent plan to vote for Democrats, while 38 percent will support the GOP. Overall, 47 percent of likely voters still want Democrats in control of the Legislature while 40 percent hope for a Republican takeover, down from 50 percent to 38 percent two months ago.
“The real story tomorrow could be that Republicans make unexpected legislative gains,” said Redlawsk. “While the gerrymandered nature of legislative districts – mostly drawn to favor one party over the other – argues against a Republican takeover, Christie’s huge margin may make a difference.”
Voters continue to favor overwhelmingly a constitutional amendment raising the state’s minimum wage by one dollar to $8.25 per hour, 68 percent to 30 percent.
Results are from a sample of 535 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points, drawn from 804 New Jersey registered voters polled statewide from Oct. 28 – Nov. 2, on both landlines and cell phones. The registered voter sample margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Christie makes more inroads into Buono’s base
Christie’s already large lead has grown within almost every group of voters. The governor wins 95 percent of his own party members, up two points since October. Likewise, 73 percent of independents now support Christie, up five points. Buono gets support from just 20 percent of independents. Democrats have especially taken to Christie in the final week; 38 percent now say they support him, up from 25 percent four weeks ago. Buono garners only 59 percent among Democrats.
Nonwhite voters also have moved into Christie’s column, 55 percent to 40 percent for Buono, a reversal from early September. Her other stronghold, public union households, now gives Buono just a three-point lead, 48 percent to 45 percent, down from nine points.
“There is simply no good news for Buono in any of our numbers,” said Redlawsk. “To top it off, Christie’s efforts to court black and Hispanic voters seem to be paying off much better than might have been expected.”
Christie continues to win big across all age groups, income brackets and education levels, though his margin is somewhat smaller among the most educated. Among voters in households with incomes under $50,000 that usually lean Democratic, Christie’s lead has doubled and is now 70 percent to 27 percent. Christie also holds massive leads in every region of the state.
There is only a limited gender gap in support for the governor. Christie has a 2-1 lead among women (63 percent to 32 percent), while men are five points more likely to back him.
Christie coattails may be in play
Democrats have held a wide lead over Republicans in statewide generic tests of Assembly and Senate races all year. But the combination of a huge Christie margin and possible demobilization of Democrats may be having an impact on down-ballot races, as the previous lead has all but disappeared.
After giving Democrats an 18-point margin in early September, likely voters now favor Democrats by single digits statewide in both Assembly and Senate races. Christie’s success is rubbing off, especially among fellow partisans. Among the increasing number of Christie supporters, Republican Assembly candidates lead, 53 percent to 22 percent. In the Senate, Republicans lead 55 percent to 25 percent among these voters. While more than eight in 10 Buono voters choose legislative Democrats, the smaller share of her supporters means statewide Democrats are in worse shape than two months ago.
Democrats maintain a small lead because most partisan voters still plan to vote for their party in both Assembly and Senate races. However, increasing solidarity among likely Republican voters contributes to Republican gains. In Assembly races, 89 percent of GOP voters are now staying with the party line, up 13 points from September. Eighty-two percent of Democrats plan to vote for legislative Democrats, even as many are defecting to Christie at the top of the ticket. Senate races look similar.
Christie’s coattails are not as strong with independents, but Assembly Republicans eke out a 4- point lead, 32 percent to 28 percent, while independents favor Senate GOPers, 37 percent to 31 percent.
“As always, these statewide tests do not tell us about individual districts, and they are highly contingent on who actually chooses to vote in these races,” noted Redlawsk. “But as the statewide margin closes, some Democratic seats may be more at risk than they were before.”
Democrats lack enthusiasm
Two-thirds of all registered voters say they have followed the election very or fairly closely, and 31 percent are very enthusiastic about their vote choices. Another 52 percent are somewhat enthusiastic.
But Democrats are not nearly as engaged in the race as Republicans. Registered Democrats are five points less likely to say they are paying very close attention to the election, and they are seven points less apt to say they are very likely to turn out to vote. More importantly, enthusiasm for their gubernatorial candidate reveals an even larger gap. Only 22 percent of registered Democrats are very enthusiastic about voting for Buono, compared to half of Republicans who feel that way about re-electing Christie.
“We would expect Democrats remaining with Buono to be more enthusiastic about her compared to defecting Democrats, who might be somewhat reluctantly favoring Christie, but that’s not the case,” said Redlawsk. “Democrats voting for Christie are just as enthusiastic about crossing over as those remaining with Buono feel about her. Across the board, Republicans are excited. Democrats are not.”
Christie voters are much more motivated by support for their candidate than by opposition to Buono. While 60 percent of Buono’s likely voters are primarily voting against Christie, 84 percent of Christie’s voters are marking their ballot in support of him, rather than in opposition to Buono.
Few voters remain unsettled in their choices; only about 10 percent say they might consider changing by Nov. 5. But Buono loses our here as well: 14 percent of her supporters might change their minds versus only 8 percent of Christie voters.
Minimum wage continues to win, but loses some GOP backing
Support for the minimum wage constitutional amendment has fallen eight points since September, to 68 percent, mostly due to an increasingly strong Republican turnout. For the first time, Republicans are now more likely to oppose it: 52 percent are against the increase, versus 45 percent who support it. Support is also down seven points among independents, though 60 percent still are still in favor. Ninety-one percent of Democrats are behind the minimum wage increase.
Fifty-six percent of Christie voters favor the amendment despite the governor’s opposition –down six points since September. Ninety-one percent of Buono’s backers favor the increase. Women are stronger supporters at 72 percent versus 63 percent for men. A 12-point gap in support exists between the lowest and highest income brackets, though 59 percent in the highest income bracket still support the measure.
“It seems that despite the lack of enthusiasm by Democrats for voting in this election, the minimum wage amendment will pass,” said Redlawsk. “Almost all Democrats will support it, and enough independents agree to likely put it over the top.”