Category Archives: Obama NJ Rating

NEW JERSEYANS SPLIT ON OBAMACARE: BUT 24 PERCENT OF OPPONENTS THINK ‘LAW DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH’

Today we release our latest polling on the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. We find that a majority of New Jerseyans “supports” the ACA, while 40 percent “oppose” it. Opponents are generally more strongly opposed than supporters are strong in support. More importantly, we drill down to ask about the reason for opposition in terms of government involvement in health care.   Not surprisingly, most (71 percent) opponents say they are against Obamacare because it gets the government too involved in health care.  But 24 percent of opponents say they don’t like it because it does NOT go far enough in ensuring access to health care for all. This is not trivial. We tend to think all of those opposed are upset about government overreach. Instead, a significant portion has a very different view – the law did not do enough. Taken as a whole, this suggests only about one in three New Jersayans actually oppose Obamacare as a government overreach.

One other interesting note. The Monmouth Polling Institute released their polling on Obamacare yesterday and they found only a minority of New Jerseyans had a “favorable” view of Obamacare.  How can that square with our finding that 55 percent support the law? This is a classic case of where question wording can make a difference in how we should interpret results. The Monmouth question is:

Given what you know about the health reform law, do you have a generally favorable or generally unfavorable opinion of it? [PROBE: Is that a very or somewhat (favorable/unfavorable) opinion?]

Our question is:

Now let’s talk about health care. From what you have seen or heard about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, do you strongly support it, somewhat support it, somewhat oppose it, or strongly oppose it?

As we have routinely seen with questions about Gov. Christie’s job performance and favorability, asking about a “favorable or unfavorable” opinion is different from asking about “support”, just as it is different than asking about the governor’s job performance. People bring different ideas into their heads depending on how a question is asked. It is very possible that some of the people who told us they “support” the ACA would also say they have a “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of it. That is, one can think it does not do everything you would like, and feel it could have been better, and still “support” it over some unspecified alternative.

So we should not see our two polls as at odds, but instead should see them a complementary, asking about the same issues, but from different perspectives. That’s how we really get a read on public opinion.

Click here for a PDF of the full text, questions, and tables for this release.

NEW JERSEYANS SPLIT ON OBAMACARE: BUT 24 PERCENT OF OPPONENTS THINK ‘LAW DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH’

 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – More New Jerseyans now support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, than are opposed, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. With the first open enrollment period now ended, 26 percent strongly support the ACA, while another 29 percent somewhat support it. Detractors are more intense in their opposition: 28 percent strongly oppose the law while 12 percent are somewhat opposed.

Opposition is not monolithic; 24 percent of opponents believe the law “does not go far enough” in ensuring health care access for all while 71 percent oppose the ACA because they think it “goes too far” in involving government in health care decisions.

“Polls examining support for Obamacare tend not to ask why opponents feel that way,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “When we do, we find that a substantial share of opponents want more, not less, from a government health care program. Only about 30 percent of all New Jersey residents actually object to the law because it goes too far, suggesting a strong base for the goals of Obamacare, even if for some the current law fails to reach those goals.”

Most New Jerseyans, including half of strong Obamacare opponents, think the March 31 open enrollment deadline should have been extended to allow for more enrollments: 74 percent would have liked more time, while 22 percent say an extension was not needed.

Perhaps reflecting a combination of political opposition and a lack of awareness of its details, most respondents said they have personally seen little to no effect from the new health care law.

At the same time, the number who reported having no health insurance has declined from 14 percent to 6 percent since a January Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Still, only 3 percent of respondents said they have bought their health insurance from the online Health Care Exchange.

Results are from a statewide poll of 816 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points, contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from March 31 to April 6.

Partisanship, race divide support for Affordable Care Act

Mirroring the longstanding, bitter partisan battle in Congress over the ACA, the law generates polar opposite views from Democrats and Republicans. Eighty-four percent of Democrats back Obamacare at some level, with half saying they strongly support it. Fourteen percent of Democrats oppose the law, split between somewhat and strongly opposed. Republicans, on the other hand, are almost wholly in the opposite camp. Reflecting GOP opposition to Obamacare in Congress, 79 percent of Republicans are against the law, with 63 percent strongly opposed.

About half of independents support Obamacare, but that support is lukewarm; only 16 percent are strong supporters, while 33 percent are somewhat supportive. Opponents are more intense in their distaste: 30 percent strongly oppose the law and 14 percent somewhat oppose it.

Support for Obamacare also shows a significant racial divide. Half of whites they oppose the act, with 35 percent strongly opposed. Only 19 percent strongly support the law, while 27 percent somewhat support it. In contrast, nearly all black New Jerseyans offer some support: 57 percent are strong supporters and 35 percent are somewhat supportive.

Education also makes a difference in ACA support. Respondents with graduate level work are 16 to 18 points more likely to support the law than those with a high school education or some college. They are also nine points more likely than those with a college degree to support the ACA.

Senior citizens oppose the law, 50 percent to 44 percent who support it. While those 18-34 years old are more supportive of President Obama in general, they are less passionate proponents of the law: just 19 percent give it strong support, compared to 28 percent of seniors. But 40 percent of these millennials somewhat support Obamacare, bringing their overall level of support to 59 percent.

Attitudes towards President Obama also play a large role in ACA acceptance. Eighty-three percent of the president’s supporters favor the law, but the opposite is true is among Obama’s detractors, 65 percent of whom strongly oppose Obamacare. Those favorable toward Obama are more evenly split between somewhat and strongly supporting the law.

But whether for or against the ACA, most say the enrollment deadline should have been extended past March 31: 84 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents, and 57 percent of Republicans feel an extension was called for. Even more than half of the law’s strongest opponents agree that individuals should have been given more time to apply.

Obamacare detractors split on why they are opposed        

While the media focuses on Obamacare opponents who see the law as an example of government overreach, in New Jersey 24 percent of opponents actually want more from a health care program, including 21 percent of independents and 14 percent of Republicans.

While there is no gender gap in general support of the ACA, women opponents are more likely than men (28 percent to 21 percent) to think the law does not do enough to ensure healthcare access for all, while men (77 percent to 66 percent) are more likely to say the law goes too far. Also, better educated respondents are more likely to support Obamacare in general, but less educated opponents think the law does not do enough.

“The widespread belief that the public does not want health care reform fails to account for the many opponents who are actually unhappy because Obamacare doesn’t go far enough,” noted Redlawsk. “I suspect many supporters would also like to see more, but are willing to take what is available as a first step. Together, these two groups – opponents who want more and supporters of the current law – make up a broad-based majority of New Jersey residents.”

New Jerseyans see little effect so far

Supporters and opponents alike say they have so far personally experienced few, if any, effects from the new health care law. Only 9 percent of New Jerseyans say the Affordable Care Act has mostly helped them so far and 17 percent say the law has hurt them. Most, 71 percent, say the law has not made much of a difference in their lives.

This finding cuts across partisan lines, Redlawsk said; 76 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents say they have experienced little difference. Sixty percent of Republicans say the same, but a sizeable portion, 31 percent, also says the law has hurt them thus far.

While virtually no white residents say Obamacare has thus far made a positive difference in their lives, black residents are five times more likely to report positive effects. Even so, only a quarter of blacks have been positively affected, while the majority of both blacks and whites say they have seen little change. While the consensus is that the ACA has had little effect, lower income and urban residents are more likely to say the law has helped. While all age groups mostly say the ACA has made no difference, senior citizens are most likely to feel this way, at 80 percent.

The president’s backers, unsurprisingly, are more likely to say the ACA has helped (15 percent), while his detractors are more likely to say it has been a detriment (38 percent).

“Obamacare remains a polarizing law, even as most people say they’ve seen few effects from it so far,” said Redlawsk. “Opposition is not tied to personal experience. Rather, it is clearly an ideological litmus test for many. Even though the law carries both benefits and costs, most New Jerseyans so far seem to think Obamacare has relatively little to do with them personally, even as they stake out a position on either side.”

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Results of a Joint Poll with Siena and Roanoke Released Today

Over the last week we carried out our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of New Jersey with an interesting twist. In conjunction with two other statewide academic polling centers we fielded a large set of the same questions to respondents in our respective states. Today we release the results in a lengthy report that summarizes the interesting differences and similarities between the three states of New York (Siena Research Institute), Virginia (Roanoke Institute for Policy and Opinion Research) and Rutgers-Eagleton. The report speaks pretty much for itself, but if you want to see the full set of questions and crosstabs for all three institutions, you can find them here.

For a PDF of this release with the New Jersey tables and crosstabs, click here.

Full text of the release follows.

Roanoke/Rutgers-Eagleton/Siena College Study:  Simultaneous Polls – Virginia, New Jersey, New York
Majority in 3 States Favorable on Hillary Clinton; Give Former Sec of State 2016 Lead over Christie, Paul & Ryan

Voters in NJ, NY & Virginia in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage, National Gun Registry, Keystone Pipeline, Minimum Wage Hike, Med Marijuana; States Mixed on Obamacare, Unemployment Extension

Cuomo Stronger in NY than Christie in Jersey or McAuliffe in Virginia

NY & NJ Voters see Global Climate Change; Virginians Mixed

Loudonville, NY; New Brunswick, NJ; Roanoke, VA. – A majority of voters in New York (64 percent), New Jersey (59 percent) and Virginia (56 percent) have a favorable view of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and name her most often in each state as the one eligible person that they would most like to see as the next President according to simultaneous identical polls conducted by Roanoke College in Virginia, Rutgers-Eagleton in New Jersey and Siena College in New York.  In early 2016 Presidential horseraces in each state, Clinton tops New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Paul Ryan by over 35 points in New York, 8 (Christie) to 14 (Paul) points in Virginia and even leads Christie by 10 in New Jersey while up there by 25 to 29 over Ryan and Paul.

“It’s early, very early, but in these three states worth 56 of 270 electoral votes needed to win, Hillary Clinton is well-liked, the top choice by margins of 4 or 5 to one in New York and Virginia and named more than twice as often in Governor Christie’s home state.  Head to head, she is untouchable in New York, has majorities in New Jersey and a lead in the potential battleground state of Virginia over not only two lesser known Republican hopefuls, Paul and Ryan, but over Christie who can no longer muster 50 percent favorable in any of the three states,” according to Don Levy, Director of the Siena College Research Institute.

Asked to vote in favor of or opposed to 12 national initiatives, a majority of voters in all three states support seven and oppose one.  Overwhelming majorities are in favor of raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour; legalizing the use of marijuana in all 50 states for medical purposes; approving a path to citizenship for people who are in the U.S. illegally, but are working, have no criminal record and pay taxes; approving the Keystone Pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the U.S.; using federal funds to make free Pre-Kindergarten education available to all children; and establishing a national gun registry.

Legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states is strongly supported in New Jersey and New York while Virginians are in favor by 53 to 40 percent.  Large majorities, greatest in Virginia, oppose allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to tap domestic phone lines in the interest of national security.

SNAG-002

“We tend to spend more time focusing on how voters differ across states, but here we find that despite differences in geography, racial and religious makeup, and partisanship, there is more agreement than not in these three states on seven current issues. Apparently voters share more opinions than the media leads us to believe with their focus on a hyper partisan world,” according to David Redlawsk, Director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

“Given a huge disparity in gun ownership rates – half in Virginia compared to one in seven in the two northern states – the much smaller differences on support for a national gun registry are surprising.  Virginians are less supportive of stricter gun laws, but those differences are relatively small. New York and New Jersey have much tougher restrictions on guns and gun owners; perhaps those differences are a factor in shaping opinion,” according to Harry Wilson, Director of Roanoke’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research.

On four current issues – the Affordable Care Act, abortion, standardized testing and an extension for unemployment benefits – the voters of New Jersey, New York and Virginia do not speak with the same decisiveness nor the same mind.  Given the opportunity to vote in these polls on repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a majority of Virginians are in favor, a small majority of New Jerseyans agree, but a similarly small majority of New Yorkers oppose repeal.  On two other current hot button issues, both New York and New Jersey support both reinstituting unemployment benefits beyond the initial 26 weeks of coverage and to a lesser degree, using nationally standardized tests to assess the quality of public schools, while in Virginia, both issues find voters split.

The one issue on which voters of each state are closely divided is making abortion illegal 20 weeks after conception, a proposal currently being advanced by some in Congress.  Voters in all three states lean towards opposing this measure, but only in Virginia does opposition reach beyond the margin of error and in no instant does opposition reach 50 percent.

“While voters in these three states agree on and endorse initiatives covering a wide range of issues – same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, the Keystone Pipeline and the minimum wage – voters both within these three states and across borders cannot come to any consensus on some of the key issues that are drawing the political battle lines today including abortion, Obamacare and unemployment benefits.  In fact, asked whether the greatest problem we face today is too much government or income inequality, New Yorkers say ‘it’s inequality,’ Virginians say ‘too much government’ and New Jersey is split,” Levy notes.

“Another line in the sand is climate change.  New Jersey and New York emphatically say that they think that the major storms that have hit the East Coast over the last two years are the result of global climate change while Virginians are not convinced,” Wilson adds.

Rating the Governors, States and Country

Of the three Governors, Andrew Cuomo in New York, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, Cuomo has the strongest favorability ranking in his own state at 59 to 34 percent followed by McAuliffe’s 47 to 33 percent and Christie’s 48 to 40 percent.  Away from their home state, Christie is best known but gets breakeven favorable/unfavorable scores in both New York and Virginia.  McAuliffe, the Governor with the shortest tenure, is little known outside of Virginia while Cuomo is seen favorably in New Jersey, 47 to 19 percent but is neither well known nor popular in Virginia at 27 to 33 percent.

Another point of agreement across these three states is that voters say that the country is headed in the wrong direction rather than being on the right track by nearly identical scores – NJ 56/32, NY 54/36, Virginia 59/32.  And when asked to assess the direction of their own state, voters are more positive about their home than the nation but no state makes it to 50 percent saying ‘right track.’  While Virginians are guardedly optimistic at 47 percent right track to 40 percent wrong direction, New Yorkers and New Jerseyans lean negatively.

SNAG-001

“Still, given a chance to vote with their feet when asked across all three states to choose where they would most like to live, a large majority – ninety percent in Virginia, two-thirds in New York and almost six in ten in New Jersey, say, despite any warts, home is sweet home.  Among those with a wandering eye, Virginia calls most loudly as a quarter of both New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are ready to head south,” Redlawsk added.

“Whether we describe our politics as hyper-partisan, divided or gridlocked, this three-state study shows that large majorities of voters from New Jersey, New York and Virginia agree on many issues.  Still, given their sobering agreement on the country currently moving in the wrong direction, they appear more frustrated than optimistic.  At the same time, on some issues including Obamacare, the role of government and abortion, deep divides are evident.  The 2016 Presidential election is a political eternity away.  While some of the issues in this study may be decided by then, it is more likely that Hillary Clinton and the other candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, will need to address both the areas of agreement as well as those on which Americans disagree when the campaign heats up.”

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Filed under Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Education, Gay Marriage, Gun Control, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Immigration, Obama NJ Rating, President Obama

A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … The Initial Rollout of the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey

Mixed Views on Affordable Care Act; Numbers on Healthcare.gov Sign Up

By Max Mescall, Ian McGeown, and Liz Kantor

Max Mescall is a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a junior at Rutgers University. Ian McGeown is an Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and is a sophomore at Rutgers University. Liz Kantor is an Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program sophomore at Rutgers University. 

 It would be hard to find someone living in the United States that has not heard the term “Obamacare” thrown around in the media in the past few years. After much debate and discussion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is finally starting to take effect as Americans can now make decisions about what kind of healthcare coverage to select, either through HealthCare.gov or their own state-based marketplace where applicable.

Our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that New Jerseyans have somewhat mixed views on the Affordable Care Act.  A majority at least somewhat supports the ACA, pretty evenly split between 26 percent somewhat supporting and 28 percent strongly supporting the law.  But those who do not like the ACA are more likely to express strong than middling opposition: 28 percent strongly oppose, while 12 percent are somewhat opposed.

Unsurprisingly there is a clear partisan divide: 44 percent of Democrats give strong support, compared to just 20 percent of independents and 5 percent of Republicans. While an overwhelming majority of Democrats support the law at some level, just under half of independents feel the same while 8 in 10 Republicans are at least somewhat opposed.

Since most NJ residents have health insurance already either through their work (47 percent) or through Medicare (13 percent) or Medicaid (3 percent), as of mid-January relatively few had actually used Healthcare.gov to try to purchase a new health insurance policy. Just 14 percent reported attempts to use the site, not surprising since the vast majority of New Jerseyans already had insurance through other sources.

Among those who attempted to use the site, about two-thirds say they actually obtained insurance from it. Among this small number of respondents (less than 10 percent of the full sample), 25 percent find that it was less expensive than their prior insurance, just slightly fewer (22 percent) say it was more expensive, and around the same number (23 percent) say it was about the same cost. Nine percent are not sure. Another 21 percent who successfully signed up could not compare to previous insurance rates because they did not have insurance before purchasing through the exchange.

Overall, a large majority says the ACA has had little effect on them and their families so far.  Just over two-thirds (67 percent) of New Jerseyans say the ACA has had little effect, while 11 percent say it has helped their families, and 17 percent say it has done more harm than good.  But this sentiment is again divided across partisan lines: Republicans are approximately five times more likely than Democrats to say the law has hurt them (34 percent versus 7 percent), though the majority within each party sees little effect yet.

In the end, of course, most New Jerseyans, as with most people nationwide, are already covered by insurance before Obamacare, so for most, the insurance exchanges don’t really make any difference. At the same time, it seems clear that New Jerseyans are not focused on benefits of the program beyond the exchanges – including keeping children on parent’s policies to age 26, elimination of lifetime caps, and removal of pre-existing limitations. That seems to be the only way to explain why few New Jersey respondents say they have seen any benefits in the new law.

In general, Obama’s job grade is still high in the “blue” state of New Jersey, with 60 percent feeling favorably toward the president – though this positivity is driven mostly by the 88 percent of Democrats who feel this way.  About half of independents and only 14 percent of Republicans feel the same.  Predictably, Obama’s favorability has a strong relationship to opinions on the Affordable Care Act.  Favorable impressions steadily increase and negative impressions correspondingly decrease with each successive level of support for the health care law.  In turn, those more favorable toward Obama are more likely to support the law, and those who are more unfavorable are more likely to oppose it.  Obama’s job grade follows similar patterns.

Results are from a statewide poll of 826 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Jan 14 – 19.

Jan 2014 Health Care Questions and Tables

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MOST NEW JERSEY VOTERS OPPOSE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN OVER OBAMACARE, BLAME GOP

Click here for PDF of full text, questions, and tables.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – As the government shutdown enters its third week, New Jersey’s registered voters reflect the rest of the nation’s disapproval and assign blame to the Republican Party, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Just one quarter think congressional Republicans did the right thing by insisting to defund Obamacare. As a result, Republicans are suffering the brunt of the blame: more than half of Garden State voters say the shutdown is the GOP’s fault, while 19 percent blame President Obama. Only 5 percent blame on Democrats in Congress, although 20 percent say there is blame enough for everyone.

The shutdown has personally affected about one in five respondents, the poll finds. The biggest impact is on jobs – a quarter of those hurt say either they or a family member were furloughed, or their business has been affected. Also, many New Jerseyans are reporting problems accessing personal benefits or government-funded programs and that the shutdown has been exacting an emotional toll.

Despite the shutdown, Obama’s personal ratings remain unchanged since an early September poll and are still very positive. Fifty-nine percent of voters are favorably disposed toward him, while 34 percent are not and another 7 percent are unsure. Similarly, 50 percent of voters grade Obama’s job performance as B or higher.

Conversely, feelings about the Tea Party are mostly negative; 21 percent of voters have a favorable impression, while 55 percent are unfavorable and 24 percent have no opinion. When the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll last asked about the Tea Party, in November 2011, the movement drew favorable ratings from 21 percent of respondents, but 48 percent were unfavorable.

“The federal government shutdown is not playing any better in New Jersey than elsewhere,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “Those directly affected are very frustrated, and even those not seeing direct effects say the shutdown was the wrong way to go. While Obama’s ratings have not been affected, reactions to the Tea Party movement have become more negative.”

Results are from a poll of 799 registered New Jersey voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Oct. 7-13. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Shutdown directly affects many Garden Staters

Twenty-one percent of registered voters report they have noticed a difference in their personal lives because of the shutdown. Women, minority voters and those in lower income brackets have been especially impacted, as have those living in exurban areas and Philadelphia’s South Jersey suburbs.

Asked to describe the personal effects of the partial shutdown, many offered economic examples, including that they or a family member was furloughed from a job or receiving less pay. Others report difficulties gaining access to personal benefits and government-funded programs, including challenges to getting information about social security, Medicare and food stamps.

Some voters say they have been emotionally affected and called themselves “worried,” “concerned,” “depressed” or “angry.” Respondents also worry over the shutdown’s effects on the stock market and economy, the closing of national parks and monuments, and the impact on personal finances and spending.

ShutdownWordle5Word Cloud for question:
“In just a couple of words, can you tell me how the shutdown has affected you personally?”
Credit: Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Release, October 16, 2013

Opinions on shutdown are deeply partisan

While majorities of voters say the government should have been kept open and that Republicans are to blame for the shutdown, Democrats and Republicans hold starkly opposing views of the situation. Eighty-five percent of Democrats say the government should have been kept open without defunding Obamacare, while 7 percent say shutting the government down over Obamacare was the right thing to do. Republicans are more split. Fifty-eight percent say the shutdown was the proper course of action but a significant 34 percent say the government should have been kept open.

Independents lean much closer to Democrats on the shutdown. Just 25 percent support shutting down the government over Obamacare defunding, but 66 percent believe this was the wrong thing to do. As for the Tea party, only 21 percent of all voters and 42 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of the movement. Supporters reflect overall Republican preferences, with 56 percent favoring the shutdown move and 35 percent opposing it.

“New Jersey’s Tea Party supporters do not favor the shutdown over defunding Obamacare any more than other Republicans,” noted Redlawsk. “This is partly because many Republicans feel favorably toward the Tea Party and partly because one in six Tea Party supporters has personally felt the shutdown’s impact. Personal impact can make a difference in attitudes.”

Blame for the shutdown follows similar patterns. Large majorities of Democrats, Obama supporters, and those personally affected by the shutdown, blame Republicans in Congress. Conversely, Republican voters, Tea Party supporters and shutdown advocates all blame the president in large numbers.

Nearly half (46 percent) of Republicans blame Obama, while 14 percent say their own party is to blame. But 87 percent of Democrats put the blame squarely on congressional Republicans. Independent voters see Republicans to blame by a 2-to-1 margin over Obama.

“The fact that independents are far more likely to blame Republicans than Obama or Democrats in Congress is one indicator of the harm this is doing to the Republican brand,” said Redlawsk. “But Democrats do not get off free – more than a third of independents say everyone is to blame.”

Voters’ preferences for U.S. Senate in today’s special election likewise reflects opinions on the shutdown: 87 percent of Booker voters disagree with it, while 63 percent of Lonegan voters say the shutdown was the right thing to do. Gender and racial gaps also exist, with women and minority voters much less likely to believe the shutdown was proper.

Three-quarters of Booker voters place blame for the standoff on the GOP, but six in 10 Lonegan voters blame Obama or the Democrats. While there is no gender gap in placing blame, minority voters are 22-points more likely to blame Republicans than white voters.

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A Post-Sandy Follow Up

The headline on today’s poll release should not surprise anyone in New Jersey – the vast major of Garden Staters – 74 percent – say life here is not back to normal after Superstorm Sandy, nearly four months ago. Moreover, most see it as a transformative event, and want rebuilding the shore to go slowly to give time to assess the implications of rebuilding. Not a lot else to say about the release itself; it is part of what we plan to be a regular effort to assess where things are after the storm, which began with a release on the impact of Sandy, and another on its political implications, back in November.

The text of today’s release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release text with all questions and tables.


LIFE IN NEW JERSEY NOT YET NORMAL AFTER SANDY, RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL FINDS

 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – Nearly three-quarters of New Jerseyans say life is not yet back to normal almost four months after Superstorm Sandy, and 77 percent call the storm a “transformative event,” according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. A quarter of those personally affected by the storm report not having fully recovered, with more than 60 percent of those respondents reporting unrepaired damage to their home.

However, most New Jerseyans are not in a rush to repair damage at the shore; 62 percent say assessing potential for future damage should take precedence over rushing to rebuild before the summer tourist season. Almost eight in 10 (78 percent) want government to pay for repairs and rebuilding, although about half of these residents say property owners should share the cost. Seventeen percent want property owners to shoulder the entire burden.

“New Jersey will be dealing with the effects of Superstorm Sandy for years,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “Whether Sandy will prove transformative depends on how its effects influence decisions about rebuilding and future mitigation.”

Results are from a poll of 796 adult New Jerseyans conducted statewide among landline and cell phone households from Jan. 30 – Feb. 3 with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Government’s efforts earn good grades

Ninety-two percent of Garden Staters say Gov. Christie is handling Sandy recovery efforts at least “somewhat well”; 62 percent say “very well” though this top mark is down seven points from a November Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. President Obama doesn’t fare quite as well – 82 percent say his post-Sandy work is going at least somewhat well, but only 44 percent say his efforts are going very well, a 12-point drop since November.

Respondents continue to give generally positive marks to FEMA and the Red Cross, although both are clearly down since November. Twenty-five percent say FEMA has handled its duties very well, a 12-point dip since the last poll. The Red Cross has experienced a nine-point drop to 42 percent very well over the same period. About 12 percent of Garden Staters affected by the storm report using the services of any disaster-assistance agency, up just three points from November.

Local government also receives positive ratings on Sandy recovery. Thirty-nine percent say their local government is doing very well with recovery, while another 38 percent say somewhat well.

“New Jerseyans continue to feel that first responders and political leadership have done a good job handling Sandy and its aftermath,” said Redlawsk, “but some drop in sentiment from November is probably inevitable as the recovery continues. Few feel truly negative, however.”

Those personally affected by Sandy are five points more likely than those who were not to say the governor is handling recovery very well.  Even eight of 10 residents who don’t like Christie personally give him positive ratings on Sandy recovery. In a reversal of his typical support, more women (66 percent) than men (58 percent) are likely to say Christie as doing very well.

Although Obama also receives strong marks for his Sandy efforts, partisanship defines his support: 15 percent of his detractors say he has handled Sandy recovery very well.  Only 28 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats give the president top marks. Like Christie, those directly affected by Sandy give Obama higher ratings than those who were not. Overall, though, majorities in every demographic group give both the governor and the president positive ratings.

Sandy’s impact and recovery

In an interesting anomaly, only 46 percent of respondents said they had been “personally” affected by Superstorm Sandy, a large decline from the two-thirds who said so in a poll taken in Sandy’s immediate aftermath. “It may simply be that for those least affected – perhaps losing power for a few hours, or having fallen trees blocking roads – the effects have faded from memory,” Redlawsk said. “It is likely that right after Sandy, even small inconveniences felt large. Months later, those who faced more significant disruptions are most likely to still say Sandy had personal impact.”

Fifty-one percent of shore residents say they were personally affected; the number rises to 62 percent in northwest exurban counties, while only 23 percent of South Jersey/Philadelphia area residents say they were affected by Sandy. Fifty-four percent of urban and 46 percent of suburban residents felt Sandy’s impact.

Almost three-quarters of New Jerseyans say the state is not back to normal, and women are 13 points more likely than men to feel this way (80 percent versus 67 percent). At least 80 percent of older residents feel the same.

Similarly, residents of the storm-battered exurban and shore areas, as well as women statewide are most likely to see Sandy as a transformative event (80 percent, 84 percent, and 82 percent respectively). Feelings about Sandy and its aftermath are not conditioned by personal experience.

Those personally affected by Sandy have the highest regard for FEMA: 28 percent say FEMA has done very well compared to 22 percent of those not personally impacted by the storm. But being directly affected by the superstorm does not influence beliefs about the performance of local government or the Red Cross. While one in eight residents used a disaster-assistance agency’s services, there is little reported difference in frequency of use by region.

Still, one-third of those affected reported property damage to their insurance companies, with residents of exurban and shore counties most likely to do so (39 and 41 percent, respectively). Most (72 percent) who contacted insurance companies have have received compensation for damages.

Residents in no rush to rebuild shore but want government to pay

More than six in 10 residents (62 percent) are cautious about rebuilding at the shore and believe assessments of the potential for future damage should be made before rebuilding, compared to the third who want to rebuild before the summer tourism season. Those personally affected by the storm are slightly less likely to want immediate action; 32 percent want to rebuild immediately while 37 percent of unaffected residents agree. Residents of Ocean, Monmouth, and Atlantic counties are more anxious than most to get started, with 39 percent supporting immediate rebuilding. Forty-two percent of those in south Jersey, including Cape May County, feel the same. New Jerseyans distant from the shore favor assessment first.

As for who foots the bill, 17 percent say that individuals should pay for their own property damage — but most expect government to pay, either alone (38 percent) or in combination with property owners (40 percent.)

Partisanship plays a major role in determining financial liability. Republicans and independents are twice as likely as Democrats to say property owners are responsible for the cost. Half of Democrats believe government alone should pay, versus 35 percent of independents and 26 percent of Republicans. Forty-seven percent of Republicans favor sharing costs between owners and government compared to 38 percent of independents and Democrats.

Of those who say only government should pay, almost half (48 percent) think it is the responsibility of the federal government, while 22 percent say the state should pay. One in five (21 percent) say payment should come from a combination of governmental levels and 9 percent say local government should bear the cost.

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Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Top results of 2012

OK, so it’s nearly the end of January, and everyone else has already done their greatest hits of 2012. Even so, we thought we’d take a quick look back at some of the more interesting findings. Aaron Hyndman, the undergraduate student who has been leading our social networking team, and Ashley Koning, graduate student and Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Manager, put together this retrospective.

So here is a look back at the top five Rutgers-Eagleton Poll moments of 2012 at ECPIP:

5) Wider support for same-sex marriage and immigration a reflection of greater social change.

As the New Jersey legislature once again addressed same-sex marriage in early 2012, with a subsequent controversy ensuing, more than half of New Jersey voters (54 percent) were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.  But they wanted to vote on it. And around the time of President Obama’s executive order regarding the DREAM Act, June 2012 findings show mass bipartisan appeal for the measure providing opportunities for children of undocumented immigrants.  Eighty percent of New Jersey residents voiced support, mirroring national trends.

Press Releases: February 13, 2012, February 14, 2012, June 18, 2012

4) “Predicting” the 2012 Election.
From President Obama’s strong win in New Jersey by the same 17-point margin as shown in a late September Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, to the higher education bond passing with nearly the exact same percentage as our results showed more than a month prior, our late September polling was surprisingly accurate, reinforcing the idea that most NJ voters had made up their minds long before election day.  And in partnership with WNYC and The Brian Lehrer Show, we went even further into major issues by investigating New Jersey opinions on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid (http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2012/oct/10/wnycrutgers-eagleton-poll-results/).

Press Releases: October 3, 2012, October 5, 2012, October 10, 2012

3) A growing concern about gun violence and gun control in the wake of nationwide tragedies.
First polled in August after the Colorado, Wisconsin Sikh Temple, and Empire State Building Shootings, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found two-thirds of NJ voters very concerned with gun violence in America, 65 percent believing gun ownership was more important than gun owners’ rights, and nearly half agreeing that New Jersey gun laws should be made stricter.  Asked less than four months later in the wake of the unspeakable shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll saw a dramatic shift in favor of gun control from August (up to 72 percent across all New Jerseyans and up to 57 percent specifically within gun-owning households).  More than three quarters of New Jerseyans were worried about gun violence – including six in ten gun owners – and virtually all believed it to be an important issue for the national agenda.

Press Release: September 12, 2012

2.) Jersey Strong in the face of the Superstorm – bipartisanship and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Superstorm Sandy was probably the most unprecedented, dramatic weather event in New Jersey’s history.  In the days before a national election, the Superstorm forced politics to be set aside so that leaders on both sides of the aisle could do everything in their power to provide aid to those suffering and help rebuild our region (and canceled our pre-election polling as well).  With two thirds of New Jerseyans affected by the storm, they praised this spirit of bipartisan cooperation by giving both President Obama and Governor Christie extraordinarily high marks in our November poll that chronicled Sandy’s aftermath.

Press Releases: November 20, 2012, November 21, 2012 

1.) The Untouchable Chris Christie and his soaring reelection and approval numbers heading into the 2013 race for governor.
Prior to Sandy, New Jersey voters were split on whether the governor should receive a second term or if it was time for someone new.  But Sandy changed all of that, and Governor Christie took a commanding lead in our November poll – both in general and by double-digit margins when put head-to-head against likely Democrat opponents (including Booker) for the 2013 election.  His undeniable leadership in a time of crisis and post-Sandy popularity has catapulted him to his highest favorability ratings ever as governor.  Christie now enters the 2013 race as a formidable opponent with strong job performance grades, greater support from his citizens, and a reputation that is less reminiscent of his pre-Sandy numbers and more reflective of his leadership and strong character in rebuilding the Garden State. But a lot can happen over the course of an election year, and we will be there to document it.

Press Releases: November 27, 2012, November 29, 2012

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2012 NJ Election Wrap Up

Click here for a PDF of this release with questions and tables.

NEW JERSEY VOTERS TELL RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL THAT COUNTRY WILL REMAIN DIVIDED

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Following President Barack Obama’s re-election, 49 percent of New Jersey voters say the country will become more divided, while only 40 percent think Americans will become more united, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today. Even so, two-thirds of respondents remain optimistic about the next four years.

Not surprisingly, this feeling of optimism is driven by the 90 percent of Democrats who are positive about the future. Only 25 percent of Republicans are optimistic about the next four years.  Independent voters are more optimistic than pessimistic, 56 percent to 38 percent.

Nearly all of Mitt Romney’s GOP backers are pessimistic and expect the country to remain divided.  Most Obama voters are optimistic, but 30 percent agree that Americans will be more divided. Voters also are evenly split about the country’s direction.

“New Jersey went heavily for Obama, and his supporters are optimistic,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “But their optimism is tempered by recognition that the election did not eliminate divisions in the country.”

Obama and Romney voters do not agree on much, but 60 percent of both groups say that the economy and jobs are the most important issue today. Romney supporters name the federal budget deficit second (17 percent), while Obama voters call education their runner-up (12 percent).

Asked to name a second-term priority for Obama, 42 percent of all voters reference the economy, jobs, or fiscal responsibility. Reinforcing existing divisions, 15 percent of Republicans simply say Obama should resign and leave office.

“Obama’s victory clearly did little to heal partisan wounds,” said Redlawsk. “National polling gives him a post-election approval bump, but a significant number of voters continues to be implacably opposed to the president.”

Results are from a poll of 1,228 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Nov 14-17. Within this sample is a subsample of 1,108 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

Demographics underscore political division

early 80 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents see the country as more divided following the election. Conversely, 60 percent of Democrats say Americans will become more united.

Obama voters – Democrats and independents – are seven times more likely to believe the country will come together (60 percent) than Romney backers (8 percent).  By more than 3 to 1, Romney voters expect more division in the country than Obama supporters.

Reflecting the presidential vote, men are more likely than women to believe the country will become more divided (55 percent to 44 percent). About one-third of men expect greater unity, while 44 percent of women feel the same. White voters have a more negative outlook than Hispanic and black voters: 55 percent of whites believe the country will be more divided, compared to 46 percent of Hispanics and only a quarter of blacks.

Perceptions of division decrease with age.  Voters under 35 are the most skeptical about Americans uniting, with 55 percent thinking there will be greater division. Seniors are split, with 44 percent expecting division and 41 percent seeing a more united country. This negative outlook also increases with education; more than half of those with at least a college degree believe the country will be more divided.

Beliefs about country’s direction follow a similar pattern. Voters are split with 47 percent saying the country is going in the right direction while 48 percent think it is off on the wrong track. More Democrats (73 percent) say the U.S. is going in the right direction than Republicans (12 percent) or independents (40 percent). Eight-five percent of Republicans say the country is on the wrong track, compared to 57 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats. By more than 12 to 1, Obama supporters agree with the country’s direction compared to Romney voters.  More than 90 percent of Romney voters believe the country is headed down the wrong path.

The next four years: who is optimistic?

As expected, partisanship defines voter optimism about the next four years. While more than nine in 10 Democrats are optimistic, 56 percent of independents and just 23 percent of Republicans feel the same.

Women are 12 points more likely than men to be optimistic about the next four years (69 percent to 57 percent). While more than half of all white voters are optimistic, blacks and Hispanics are most positive at 89 percent and 72 percent, respectively. Younger voters and those in lower income brackets are most optimistic, while older and higher-income voters show greater pessimism. Still, more than half from each group say they are optimistic.  Obama voters are more optimistic about the next four year than Romney’s supporters (92 percent to 17 percent).

Economy and jobs remains top priority

Given a list of issues, voters name the economy and jobs as most important (58 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents, 62 percent of Republicans). Education is a distant second for Democrats (11 percent), while Republicans and independents pick the federal budget deficit second (17 and 13 percent, respectively).

Obama handily won voters who found the economy and jobs most important, 59 percent to 39 percent.  Romney was the easy winner among the much smaller group naming the federal budget deficit first, 58 percent to 36 percent.

Asked to say “in just a couple words” what the president’s second-term priorities should be, nearly half of voters cited the economy, jobs, fiscal issues and taxes. Health care is specifically named by seven percent, followed by six percent who want Obama to focus primarily on bipartisanship and compromise.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say fixing the economy is most important, while Republicans are equally likely to talk about establishing fiscal responsibility and about the economy. But 15 percent of Republicans – the largest percentage – simply say Obama should resign and leave office. Republicans also are more likely than Democrats to mention health care, with 11 percent saying the top priority is to change Obama’s health care law.

Motivation for Republicans at the polls

Many Romney voters were motivated primarily by opposition to Obama. The large majority of Obama voters (79 percent) said they voted more for the president than against Romney, while 20 percent said they were voting against the challenger. By contrast, 55 percent of Romney supporters say their vote supported Romney, while 42 percent said they voted against the incumbent.

Eighty-five percent of Democrats who voted for Obama were motivated by their support for the president, rather than by their opposition to Romney (14 percent). Independent Obama voters were somewhat more focused on their opposition to Romney, but 67 percent still said they were voting in support of Obama. Sixty percent of Romney’s GOP supporters voted for him while 38 percent were voting against Obama. Independents supporting Romney were equally likely to say they were motivated in favor of the challenger as they were to be voting in opposition to Obama.

“While opposition to a candidate can motivate voters to show up, studies show that it is enthusiasm that really brings people to the polls,” said Redlawsk. “Obama voters clearly had enthusiasm on their side, while Romney voters were more motivated by their dislike of Obama.”

Obama’s favorability

Obama’s favorability rating has increased five points since October to 61 percent. His unfavorability dropped seven points to 32 percent. Ninety-three percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents like Obama. Three-quarters of Republicans are unfavorable while only 14 percent feel favorably toward the president. Nearly two-thirds of women are favorable, while 57 percent of men agree, reopening a gender gap that had disappeared in a late September Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

While 96 percent of Democrats voted for Obama and 87 percent of Republicans for Romney, independents split evenly, 47 percent for each. Obama won both men and women in New Jersey, but women were much more supportive: 64 percent favored Obama, compared to 54 percent of men. Obama also won virtually all black voters, nearly 70 percent of Hispanics, and just half of white voters in the Garden State.

“As Romney closed in during October, the gender gap in attitudes toward Obama briefly disappeared,” noted Redlawsk. “But in the end, women were far more likely to vote for Obama, and that gap continues in Obama’s post-election favorability. Any announcement of the death of the gender gap was obviously premature.”

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More on Superstorm Sandy – the Political Angle

Yesterday we talked about how Superstorm Sandy affected New Jersey residents. Today we turn to the political angle – that is, how do residents think their political leadership did in this test? The answer: Very well indeed. Both Gov. Christie and President Obama get high marks (Christie’s are higher) and the governors favorability rating is well above his previous high in any of our polls. And that bipartisan thing that so many national Republican leaders are upset about? Well, New Jerseyans – even GOP’ers – say it was exactly the right thing to do. National Republicans may be looking askance at our governor, but here in New Jersey he’s clearly done well.

Full text of the release follows. For a PDF with the text, questions, and tables, click here.

Oh, and CLICK HERE to help Superstorm Sandy victims!

HIGH MARKS FOR CHRISTIE, OBAMA, AND BIPARTISANSHIP IN SANDY AFTERMATH, RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL FINDS

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J –Garden Staters have responded very positively to NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s leadership following Superstorm Sandy, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. More than 90 percent praise the governor for his handling of the storm: 69 percent say Christie handled the crisis “very well” and another 23 percent say he handled it “somewhat well.”

And what about the headline-making, controversy-causing bipartisan relationship between Governor Christie and President Obama in Sandy’s wake? Eighty-one percent of New Jerseyans believe the two politicians showed “needed cooperation and bipartisanship,” compared to only 12 percent who think Christie “went too far in his praise” of the president.

The governor’s overall favorability rating now stands at 65 percent with all residents and 67 percent among registered voters, up more than 15 points from before the storm. Sixty-one percent of respondents say they support Christie more strongly due to his handling of the storm.

“Governor Christie has emerged as a clear leader in this crisis, with New Jerseyans applauding his efforts, and in particular his literal and figurative embrace of President Obama in a time of need,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “Despite a recent New York Times story that some national GOP leaders are condemning the governor for his show of bipartisanship, New Jerseyans of all stripes say it was exactly the right thing to do.”

New Jersey residents also commend President Obama, with 84 percent of residents saying Obama did “somewhat” or “very well” during the crisis. But most say this had no effect on how they voted: more than three-quarters of voters say the president’s response made no difference, while 18 percent say his assistance with Sandy made them more likely to vote for him.

Results are from a poll of 1,228 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Nov 14-17. The sample has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. Within this sample is a subsample of 1,108 registered voters; this subsample has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

Strong bipartisan support for Christie

Democrats, independents, and Republicans all applaud the governor’s storm efforts. Two-thirds of Democrats and independents, and 78 percent of Republicans, say Christie did very well. Sixty percent of Democrats and independents say they now are stronger Christie supporters; 68 percent of Republicans feel the same. The governor’s favorability has reached bipartisan highs, with 49 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents, and 89 percent of Republicans saying they now have a favorable impression of Christie. Only 38 percent of Democrats report an unfavorable impression, a drop from 68 percent in early October, when only 22 percent of Democrats felt favorably toward the governor.

“Christie’s bipartisan outreach and his visible leadership resulted in high marks from people of all political persuasions,” said Redlawsk. “This is a nice exception to the typical partisan splits over nearly anything the governor does. In a time of crisis, people expect their elected leaders to put politics aside, and when that happens, they respond very positively.”

Christie receives high praise even from his customary detractors. Almost three-quarters of women (72 percent) think Christie handled the crisis very well, and 64 percent say they are now more supportive of him. Fifty-three percent of black residents and 61 percent of Hispanics say the governor did very well. Forty-three percent of blacks and 55 percent of Hispanics also say they are now more supportive of Christie.

The governor’s strongest support comes from those regions most heavily affected by Superstorm Sandy. Eighty-three percent of shore county residents say Christie handled the crisis very well, as do 76 percent of northwestern New Jersey (exurban) residents. More than 60 percent in each region are now more supportive of Christie because of his actions. Little difference in opinion exists between those personally affected by the storm and those who were not.

“The governor has clearly built a reservoir of goodwill through his aggressive approach to Sandy,” said Redlawsk. “The timing makes things interesting – those intending to run against him next year must make their decisions soon, yet the governor is clearly riding high right now. How long this reservoir lasts will help determine who gets in and who stays out of the 2013 gubernatorial race.”

Obama’s response also praised

While the president’s support does not quite reach the lofty levels seen for Christie, majorities of most groups say the president did at least somewhat well handling the crisis.
Virtually all Democrats commend him, and 76 percent say he did very well. While 61 percent of GOP respondents give the president a positive rating on his post-Sandy actions, only 27 percent say the president did very well.

Obama’s response to the storm had little impact on voters on Election Day, however, except for those already likely to vote for him. Thirty percent of Democrats say Obama’s storm response made them more likely to vote for him, compared to 12 percent of independents and five percent of Republicans. About one-fifth of women and 30 percent of black voters feel the same. Voters in the hardest hit regions – exurban and shore counties, which lean Republican – were most likely to say Obama’s response had no effect on their votes at all (81 percent and 77 percent, respectively).

Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s storm efforts, though not as well known throughout the rest of the state, notably score highly in urban areas, with 58 percent saying the mayor did somewhat or very well with the crisis. One-third are unsure.

Christie-Obama storm tour earns strong bipartisan support

In the midst of countless media stories and GOP controversy over Christie’s praise and embrace of Obama after the storm, New Jersey residents – including over two-thirds of Christie’s own party – support the show of bipartisanship by the Governor and the President. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats, 80 percent of independents, and 69 percent of Republicans say Christie’s gratitude toward and interaction with Obama was a necessary display of bipartisanship.

Only a quarter of Republicans feel Christie went too far and possibly hurt Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Likewise, 67 percent of conservatives support the bipartisan showing. Among those who voted, 68 percent of Romney supporters feel the bipartisanship was necessary, while 28 percent think Christie’s praise of the President was detrimental.

Sandy made voting more difficult for a few

Despite the storm’s timing, few voters had trouble casting their ballots. Only 7 percent of voters personally affected by Sandy say they found it difficult to vote. Statewide, 86 percent of voters said they experienced no difficulty at all. Among registered voters who said they failed to get to the polls, 20 percent say the storm played a role, though most had other reasons for not voting. Residents living in areas most affected by Sandy, shore and exurban counties are more likely to blame the storm for their failure to vote.

“Turnout here was noticeably lower than in most presidential elections,” noted Redlawsk, “but it’s hard to determine if Sandy was the reason. It seems likely that much of the drop was Sandy-related, although it also might be attributed to the fact New Jersey was not a battleground state.”

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Obama Lead Grows in NJ

For a PDF of the release with questions and tables, click here.

OBAMA WIDENS NEW JERSEY LEAD OVER ROMNEY IN LATEST RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – On the eve of today’s first presidential debate, likely New Jersey voters give President Obama a 17-point lead over former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney – a three- point increase since August. According to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, 56 percent of New Jersey voters say they prefer Obama while 39 percent support Romney. Another 2 percent would like to see someone else, and only 4 percent are undecided.

Reflecting a national trend since the Democratic convention, voters have become slightly more positive about Obama over the past month: 56 percent now hold a favorable impression, up two points since August, while 39 percent view him unfavorably, unchanged over the past month. During the same time, voters have become increasingly negative about Romney. While 38 percent continue to view him favorably, 54 percent are now unfavorable, up five points from August.

The “economy and jobs” remains the most important election issue by far, named by 56 percent of voters. The president continues to be seen as better able to manage the economy with a 52 percent to 43 percent edge over the challenger. Many fewer voters (10 percent) pick the federal budget deficit as most important, followed by education at 9 percent and “Social Security and Medicare” at 6 percent. Romney holds nearly a 3 to 1 edge (66 percent to 23 percent) among voters who name the budget as the most important issue.

“This poll reflects recent national trends,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Romney’s missteps on Libya and his ’47 percent’ comments may have had effects, though he was already well behind here. We’ve also seen a pickup in voters who say they are Democrats, which is reflected in the poll’s partisan makeup. More people calling themselves Democrats means higher Obama numbers.”

Results are from a poll of 790 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from September 27-30. Within this sample, 645 respondents are identified as likely voters and are the subjects of this release. The likely voter sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Obama increases large lead

President Obama’s increased lead is due to several factors. Voters have become more likely to self-identify as Democrats, 95 percent of whom now support Obama. Romney, too, has solidified support among his party, as 94 percent of Republicans are now in his camp, up 11 points since August. Undecided voters and those wishing for another choice have dropped by half, as only 6 percent of likely voters cannot choose between the challenger and incumbent, with the president gaining a larger share of formerly undecided voters.

Most importantly, men have become more supportive of Obama. He now leads among men, 53 percent to 42 percent, compared to a 45 percent to 42 percent lead a month ago. Women remain stronger supporters, with 58 percent for Obama, and 36 percent for Romney, but the previously wide gender gap has closed considerably in recent weeks.

More independents are supporting Obama than when last polled. Romney also gained among this group as fewer independents remain undecided. Obama now leads among independents, 47 percent to 39 percent, compared to 44 percent to 36 percent last month.

“The president’s improving numbers among men, combined with the fact that more younger voters, women and minority voters are entering the likely voter pool than last month, accounts for much of his gain in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “If groups that traditionally support the president are increasingly likely to vote, then his position in New Jersey is probably not at risk.”

White voters favor Romney by a mere 1 point, 47 percent to 46 percent. Nonwhite voters overwhelmingly prefer Obama and comprise nearly 30 percent of likely voters. The Republican holds a seven-point lead among Catholics and a five-point edge among likely voters 65 or older. In contrast, more than half of voters in all other age groups support Obama, with those ages 18 to 34 and 50 to 64 most likely to vote for him, at 63 percent and 62 percent respectively.

Regionally, voters in the shore and exurban counties of New Jersey are stronger Romney supporters, by 11 points 25 points, respectively. Urban, suburban and south Jersey voters are all strong for Obama, with urban voters overwhelming for the president.

Democratic ticket still more likeable

Likely voters are more positive about Obama personally, and more negative about Romney than a month ago. While 56 percent of all likely voters have a favorable impression of Obama, he does not do as well among independents (48 percent). Romney does slightly better among independents at 40 percent favorable, than he does overall (38 percent), a 4-point improvement among independents since August. Romney also receives a huge favorability boost from his own party – 90 percent of Republicans now have a favorable impression of him, compared to just 78 percent before the Republican National Convention. In comparison, 94 percent of Democrats like Obama, virtually unchanged over the past month.

“The Republican National Convention did at least one thing it was meant to do. It greatly improved Romney’s standing among his base voters and somewhat improving how independents perceive him,” said Redlawsk

Likely voters are generally less favorable toward Vice President Joe Biden than they are toward Obama: 49 percent have a favorable impression of Biden, with 39 percent unfavorable. Voters are slightly less negative toward Paul Ryan than they are toward Romney, though Ryan is still viewed unfavorably overall, 36 percent favorable to 48 percent unfavorable.

While the earlier gender gap has closed somewhat, women remain much less positive about Romney than do men while there is now no gender difference in feelings about Obama. Thirty-four percent of women feel favorable toward Romney, compared to 42 percent of men. But while women’s favorability toward Obama declined six points to 57 percent, men increased their rating by nine points to 56 percent favorable. Obama is now viewed as more likeable by both genders.

Changes in favorability among income groups shows some unexpected patterns in the face of Romney’s “47 percent” comments about those he does not believe will support him. The lowest income New Jersey voters, those with less than $50,000 in household income, have become somewhat more favorable toward Romney in the last month, increasing from 33 percent favorable (55 percent unfavorable) to 38 percent favorable (51 percent unfavorable). At the same time, those earning more than $150,000 show little change, barely moving from 44 percent favorable (48 percent unfavorable) to 43 percent favorable (50 percent unfavorable). Voters between these income groups have become significantly more unfavorable toward the Republican challenger.

“It does not look like Romney’s widely reported comments actually moved lower-income voters further away from him,” noted Redlawsk. “In fact, lowest-income group became slightly more likely to vote for Romney over the past month, rather than less likely. On the other hand, middle class voters with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 are the ones who moved in Obama’s direction, while those who make more show relatively little change.”

Voters pick Obama to handle economy but Romney still deemed stronger leader

More than half of likely voters name the economy as their most important issue in the election – though this is down six points from August. Still, no other issue comes close to the
economy as most important to voters. Among voters who care most about the economy, 52 percent say Obama is the right candidate to handle the issue, while 43 percent say Romney would do the better job.

More voters (28 percent) say “strong leader” is the quality they want most in a presidential candidate; among these voters, Romney is preferred 61 percent to 35 percent, an increase for Romney of seven points since August. But the next two qualities – “cares about me” (19 percent choose this quality) and “shares my values” (17 percent) clearly play into Obama’s strengths, as voters who want those qualities strongly support Obama. The president wins on values, 67 percent to 31 percent, and overwhelms Romney on caring, 80 to 14 percent. While Obama support among voters choosing “cares about me” has changed little, “shares my values” voters have moved strongly into Obama’s column, up 18 points in the past month. These voters eliminate any advantage Romney has on leadership.

Interest in the election is high among most registered voters. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) report they are “very interested,” while 23 percent are “somewhat interested” and 4 percent are “not interested at all.” Among those who are deemed likely voters based on history, turnout intent, political interest, and campaign interest, an overwhelming 88 percent say they are “very interested” in this year’s presidential election.

“If there is an enthusiasm gap for Democrats, or at least compared to past elections, we’re not seeing it very clearly in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “At least among registered voters, interest is quite strong, and turnout appears likely to be similar to past presidential elections here.”

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OBAMA HOLDS DOUBLE-DIGIT LEAD AMONG NEW JERSEY LIKELY VOTERS IN RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL

Today we take our first “likely voter” look at the presidential election in New Jersey. We find Obama doing well, up 14 points over Romney. But for you to assess this you need to know a few things, such as HOW do we determine “likely voters” and how and where did we ask the vote question in our survey.

Here’s what we describe in the disclosure statement attached to our full press release:

Within this sample 710 respondents were identified as likely voters by scoring responses to questions about interest in politics, in the presidential election, plans to vote, and vote history. Approximately 78 percent of registered voters were identified as likely voters by this measure. In 2008, 73 percent of registered New Jersey voters actually voted.

“This sample” refers to the 916 registered voters we surveyed this time around. Among them, 710 passed our likely voter screen, which combines vote intention, interest in the campaign, interest in politics generally, and whether the respondent voted in 2010. We take these four questions and create an index from 0 to 9. Respondents who score 7, 8, or 9 make it into this likely voter sample. This results in about 77.5% of our respondents being considered “likely voters”, a pretty decent result. In fact, in a sample like this we probably should have a few more – after all people who really hate the politics and don’t want to talk to us are not included, so our sample is more disposed to voting than the statewide set of registered voters.  But we’re trying to be conservative here.

On the second issue, what about the question, you can see that in the PDF of the release as well. We give voters several options – “if the election were today…” – they can choose Obama, Romney (which are rotated to neither is always first), “Someone else” (to reflect that there are third parties on the ballot), or Don’t Know. They can also say they won’t vote, in which case they are not included as a likely voter in any case.

We placed the question AFTER we asked about issues and candidate qualities, as well as favorability and Obama job performance. Political science research has suggested that the vote intention is more stable when the question is asked after people have time to think about the election, which our earlier questions give them. We might have a different response had we asked the question at the very beginning, but probably not a lot different.

Following is the text of today’s release. Again, a PDF of the release with questions and tables is available here.

OBAMA HOLDS DOUBLE-DIGIT LEAD AMONG NEW JERSEY LIKELY VOTERS IN RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – As the Republican National Convention begins in Tampa, New Jersey voters give President Barack Obama a 14-point lead over former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Among likely voters polled just before the GOP convention, 51 percent say they would vote for Obama while 37 percent support Romney. Another 6 percent prefer someone else, and 5 percent are not sure.

Obama holds his lead despite the fact that a majority of likely voters (57 percent) thinks the country is on the wrong track; 36 percent say it is going in the right direction. The key for Obama is that voters are much more positive about him personally: 54 percent hold a favorable impression while 39 percent view him unfavorably. Voters dislike Romney – only 38 percent view him favorably, while 49 percent are unfavorable.

Easily the most important issue in the election is the economy and jobs, named by 62 percent of likely voters. The president leads Romney as the candidate who can best address this issue. The federal budget deficit is a distant second at 10 percent, followed by Social Security and Medicare at 8 percent. Voters see Obama as better able to handle the economy by 46 percent to 42 percent, but Romney has a strong edge on the budget, 68 percent to 12 percent. Obama is favored on Social Security and Medicare, 73 percent to 14 percent.

Voters’ most important candidate quality is leadership (29 percent), followed by “shares my values” (18 percent) and “cares about people like me” (17 percent). Voters who care most about leadership say they will vote for Romney over Obama, 54 percent to 34 percent. But Obama wins on values, 49 percent to 39 percent and overwhelms Romney on caring, 82 to 13 percent.

“The president leads in New Jersey primarily because of his personal qualities,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Voters like him better and feel he shares their values and cares about them. While Romney keeps it closer on the hard issue of the economy, and wins easily on leadership, voters generally prefer to support someone they like over someone they don’t.”

Results are from a poll of 916 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Aug 23 – 25. Within this sample 710 respondents are identified as likely voters and are the subjects of this release. The likely voter sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Head-to-head it’s Obama by double digits

Obama’s 14-point lead is built on support from women, who prefer the incumbent by a 58 percent to 32 percent margin. Men give Obama a very slight edge, 45 percent to 42 percent. Independents are also in Obama’s camp, 44 percent to 36 percent. The president does better among Democrats, (93 percent support him) than Romney does among Republicans (83 percent support).

Catholics (by four percentage points) and white voters (eight percentage points) are among the few demographic groups to favor the Republican. Romney’s support among whites is completely offset by nonwhite voters who overwhelmingly prefer Obama and comprise a quarter of the electorate. Romney also holds a very slight lead among likely voters making more than $100,000. Regionally, voters in the shore and exurban counties of New Jersey are Romney supporters; he holds an 18-point lead in the former. Urban, suburban, and south Jersey voters are equally strong for Obama, however. Young voters remain with Obama as they were in 2008: 58 percent of those under 35 say they will vote for Obama, while 26 percent support Romney.

“As long as women here are overwhelming supporters of Obama, Romney has little chance of winning,” said Redlawsk. “While he does OK among men, and very well among white men, this is not enough of a base in a state as diverse as this one.”

The likeability factor

Likely voters are generally positive about Obama personally, while negative about Romney. Much of this is driven by independents, who like the president (49 percent favorable) more than they do Romney (36 percent favorable.) But Romney suffers within his own party in comparison to Obama; 94 percent of Democrats like Obama, while just 78 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of Romney. Few Democrats (4 percent) dislike Obama, but 12 percent of Republicans are unfavorable toward their nominee, while another 10 percent are neutral.

A huge gender gap is evident in favorability ratings for both candidates. While 62 percent of women hold a favorable impression of Obama, only 47 percent of men agree. Forty-four percent of men feel favorably toward Romney, but only 32 percent of women agree. As a result, women are twice as positive about Obama as Romney. Men feel equally favorable toward both candidates.

“As Election Day approaches, Obama’s margin in New Jersey will be readily traceable to how positive women feel about him, more than anything else,” Redlawsk said.

Whites are far more favorable toward Romney (46 percent) than are black voters (11 percent favorable). Romney also does much better among senior citizens than with voters under 35 (44 percent favorable to 34 percent). Even so, Obama fairs better among every age group, gaining a 50 percent favorable rating from seniors and a 62 percent favorable rating from those under 35.

Wealthier voters also are much more likely to feel positive about Romney compared to those with lower incomes, although he still trails Obama in favorability at all income levels.

U.S. on wrong track; Voters prefer Obama on the economy

By a 21-point margin, the state’s likely voters think America is on the wrong track. At the same time, they say Obama would do a better job fixing their strongest concern, the economy. Two-thirds of Democrats believe things are going in the right direction, but only 27 percent of independents and 10 percent of Republicans agree. Voters with household incomes under $50,000 comprise the only group with a positive outlook, as 43 percent say the country is going in the right direction while 40 percent disagree. By a 2-to-1 margin, voters at all other income levels are convinced things are on the wrong track.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of likely voters name the economy as their most important issue in the election. Among these, 46 percent say Obama is the right candidate to handle the issue, while 42 percent say Romney would do the better job. When it comes to the election, however, voters who care most about the economy give the president a 51 to 40 percent edge.

More voters (29 percent) say “strong leader” is the quality they want most in a presidential candidate; among these voters Romney is preferred 54 percent to 34 percent. But the next two qualities – “shares my values” (18 percent) and “cares about me” (17 percent) clearly play into Obama’s strengths, as voters who want those qualities strongly support Obama. These voters eliminate any advantage Romney has on leadership.

“The right direction-wrong track numbers, especially among independents, would normally point to a clear opportunity for a challenge to a sitting president,” said Redlawsk. “Yet Obama seems immune to these numbers here in New Jersey. Garden State voters may or may not be pinning the blame for the economy on him, but they still think the president will do a better job than Romney. That, coupled with his likeability and the fact that this remains a Democratic state, suggests New Jersey is squarely in his corner.”

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