Category Archives: Superstorm Sandy

Sandy Recovery Ratings Stall

Today we return to Sandy – another in our continuing effort to understand how New Jerseyans are viewing the recovery. It looks to us like opinions have changed little since November 2013, meaning that whatever additional recovery has occurred since then does not seem to be having much impact on impressions of where we are post-Sandy.

The full text of the release follows; click here for a PDF of the full text, questions, and tables.

MOST NEW JERSEYANS STILL THINK STATE NOT BACK TO NORMAL POST-SANDY

Residents Continue to see Sandy Recovery as Incomplete, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – New Jerseyans still feel the effects of Sandy almost 18 months after the Superstorm wreaked havoc here as they continue to express skepticism that normalcy will return any time soon, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Two-thirds of residents say the state is not yet “back to normal” following the storm.

Among those who think recovery is not finished, just eight percent are optimistic that it will be complete within the next year. Another 58 percent think it could be up to five years before things return to their pre-Sandy conditions, while 12 percent see it taking up to a decade. And some New Jerseyans are even more pessimistic: 4 percent see recovery taking more than a decade, and 13 percent say pre-Sandy normalcy will never return.

“What’s striking is how many New Jerseyans are still less than optimistic about Sandy recovery,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “A year ago, 78 percent thought New Jersey was not fully back, a reasonable finding just six months after Sandy. But the number has been stuck since November, suggesting a long-term sense that putting things back together is a rough task.”

Most residents also continue to give mediocre ratings to the recovery’s progress. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning “not at all recovered” and 10 meaning “fully recovered,” recovery of the Shore region is rated at 5.0 on average, barely changed from November 2013, and lower than the 6.2 rating recorded in June 2013. Garden Staters score recovery for homeowners who sustained damage even lower, at 4.8, while assessments of tourism and business recovery are much more favorable, both at an average of 5.9. All show little change since November.

“Despite five more months of recovery efforts, New Jerseyans do not perceive any real progress,” noted Redlawsk. “The number thinking recovery is more than five years off is actually up somewhat, and recovery ratings have stalled.”

Even while discouraged about the status of recovery, residents are more positive on how the state government has handled Sandy recovery efforts overall: 15 percent say very well, 52 percent say somewhat well, 19 percent say somewhat badly, and 9 percent say very badly.

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. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points.

Sandy’s impact and partisanship influence Shore recovery ratings

While New Jerseyans on average give Shore recovery middle rating, that average hides variation suggesting some pessimism. Ratings are widely spread: just under one-quarter give a 5 to Shore recovery, while another 24 percent give slightly positive ratings of either 6 or 7. But roughly the same share rates Shore recovery as only 3 or 4. Overall, about a third of residents are above 5 on the recovery scale for the Shore; a much larger 63 percent rates Shore recovery at 5 or lower.

Recovery ratings for the Shore are related to partisan allegiances and feelings toward Gov. Chris Christie. Republicans give a higher average rating (5.4) than either independents (5.2) or Democrats (4.6). Similar patterns occur based on favorability towards Christie: those favorable rate Shore recovery at 5.4, while those unfavorable rate it at 4.5. A similar pattern occurs among those who approve versus those who disapprove of Christie’s job performance specifically on Sandy.

Statewide, those who were personally affected by Superstorm Sandy give progress at the Shore an average rating of 4.9, while others are slightly more positive, at 5.1. Shore residents give progress there a 4.9 average rating as well. Urbanites also average 4.9, while suburban residents report a 4.8 recovery score and exurban residents a 5.2. Those living in the southern region of New Jersey near Philadelphia, where the storm caused less damage, give the highest rating, at 5.5.

Shore residents are more negative about how homeowners who suffered damage are doing compared to others around the state, averaging a 4.2 rating. But statewide, those personally affected by Sandy score homeowner recovery the same as those who were not directly affected, both at 4.8. But having had one’s own home or business significantly damaged lowers the rating to 4.4 versus 4.9 for those not reporting significant damage. As with Shore recovery, Republicans on average give a 5.3 rating to homeowner recovery, higher than independents (4.7) and Democrats (4.6).

Business and tourism recovery seen slightly better

New Jerseyans are slightly more positive about progress with the recovery of tourism and business in general than about the Shore or homeowners, with an average rating in both these areas of 5.9. Residents are most likely to rate tourism recovery rather positively, at 7, with three quarters giving it a score of 5 or higher. For business recovery, 81 percent rate it at 5 or above.

While tourism recovery is rated slightly higher by those living down the Shore (5.9) than in most other regions, those personally affected by Sandy give lower ratings than those who were not (5.7 versus 6.1). Republicans and those favorable toward Christie rate the recovery of tourism higher than do Democrats and independents, and those who approve of Christie’s handling of Sandy recovery rate tourism more than half a point higher than those who do not.

As for the recovery of business in general, those living down the Shore give the lowest rating (5.5) compared to other regions, as do those in the lowest income bracket (5.4). New Jerseyans personally affected by the storm show little difference from those who were not (6.0 versus 5.9). As with other areas, those in Christie’s corner once again give higher ratings than those who are not.

State recovery efforts given some kudos

Residents’ assessments of the state’s efforts at recovery as a whole appear more optimistic than their perceptions of individual aspects of the process. Partisans of all stripes mainly think the state has handled recovery reasonably well, though to varying degrees. A quarter of Republicans say the state recovery effort is going very well and another 59 percent say somewhat well. Independents are slightly less positive (at 16 percent very well and 53 percent somewhat well), as are Democrats (11 percent very and 46 percent somewhat well). But a majority of all three groups sees the state’s efforts in a positive light. Eighty-one percent of residents who are favorable toward Gov. Christie also say the state’s efforts are going well, but even among those unfavorable toward the governor, nearly half feel the same.

Among the 35 percent of residents who disapprove of Christie’s job performance on Sandy, most are negative about how the state is doing: 39 percent say very or somewhat well, but 58 percent come down on the negative side. Not surprisingly, among the 55 percent who approve Christie’s performance on the storm’s aftermath, 88 percent say the state has done at least somewhat well in its recovery efforts.

Even those who say life is not yet back to normal are more positive than negative on the state’s recovery efforts, with 62 percent thinking the state has done at least somewhat well handling the challenge. This positive view fades the longer residents think it will take for the state to return to normal. Fewer than half of those who think recovery will take 10 years or more say state efforts are going well. There is little difference by region – even 61 percent of shore dwellers say the state has handled recovery efforts at least somewhat well – and virtually no difference between those affected personally by Sandy and others.

Impact of Sandy lingers

Sixty-seven percent of Garden Staters say post-Sandy New Jersey is not back to normal, while 26 percent say it is, and 8 percent are unsure. Not surprisingly, 84 percent of those in the hardest hit Shore areas say things are not back to normal, higher than in any other region of the state by double digits.

While a quarter of New Jerseyans say the state has already returned to normalcy, the rest are not overly optimistic, expecting rebuilding to take another one to five years. Partisanship no longer has a tremendous impact on when residents expect normalcy to return; a majority of Republicans, independents, and Democrats alike say it will take one to five years, though they hold that view to varying degrees. Those personally affected and those who suffered significant damage to their homes or businesses look very similar to their counterparts. Even Shore residents are mostly on par with other regions.

About half the state’s residents say they were personally affected by Sandy and its aftermath. More than a quarter of those affected say they suffered significant damage to either their businesses or homes.

 

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TRUST IN CHRISTIE REMAINS AT ALL-TIME LOW; MORE THAN HALF STILL SEE A “STRONG LEADER”

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

TRUST IN CHRISTIE REMAINS AT ALL-TIME LOW
BUT MORE THAN HALF OF VOTERS STILL SEE GOVERNOR AS STRONG LEADER

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Despite a reboot of his town hall meetings, and even with no significant new revelations in the Bridgegate scandal, perceptions of Gov. Chris Christie’s personal traits remain at a low point in New Jersey, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Following a sharp, negative turn in opinions of key Christie traits in January, New Jersey registered voters now rate his “trustworthiness” at an all-time low with just 23 percent saying “trustworthy” applies very well to Christie, down 20 points from October 2013. Another 38 percent say trustworthy fits Christie just somewhat well, while 35 percent say it does not fit him well at all.

While more than half of voters still say “strong leader” describes Christie “very well”, even that trait which has been key for Christie since Superstorm Sandy, is at a low point. Voters are more divided on the extent to which “sincere” describes the governor: 31 percent say it fits him very well, 35 percent say somewhat well, and 30 percent say Christie is not sincere at all.

“The Bridgegate and Sandy allegations continue to take their toll on perceptions of the governor’s positive personality traits,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “In particular, trustworthy was one of Christie’s hallmarks, especially given voters’ normal cynicism about politicians. Losing the trust of voters puts Christie into the category of an ordinary politician. At the same time, his overall New Jersey ratings remain pretty good for a Republican in this blue state.”

The number of respondents who see Christie as a bully – 37 percent – has fallen since January’s all-time high of 43 percent. And just under half say “arrogant” fits Christie very well.

Emotional responses toward Christie show little change from January. Pride in and enthusiasm about the governor remain nearly steady at 36 percent after double-digit declines in January. But 40 percent of voters are angry, and 45 percent are worried when they think about the governor.

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 22 to 28. Within this sample are 729 registered voters reported upon in this release, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Bridgegate believers most likely to distrust Christie

The decline in assessments of Christie’s trustworthiness is significantly driven by partisan differences and views on the George Washington Bridge (GWB) scandal. Fewer than 10 percent of Democrats say trustworthy describes Christie very well, while 52 percent of Republicans are still in this camp. While partisan perceptions have stayed fairly steady, independents are even less trusting than they were in January: just 20 percent say trustworthy fits Christie very well, down 10 points in the last five weeks and 24 points lower than in October.

Voters’ beliefs about whether Christie knew of his staff’s alleged involvement in closing bridge access lanes from Fort Lee last September influence whether they still trust the governor. Thirty-seven percent find it very unlikely Christie was unaware ahead of time of what his staff allegedly planned, and an additional 15 percent think it is somewhat unlikely, while 44 percent say it is at least somewhat likely he did not know.

Among those who think it is very likely Christie did not know ahead of time of his staff’s actions, more than half (52 percent) see Christie as trustworthy. In contrast, just 7 percent of voters who say it is very unlikely the governor was unaware of the plan agree with this assessment.

Assessments of Christie’s January 9 press conference about the traffic tie-up also affect how trustworthy Christie appears. The one in six voters who fully believe Christie’s explanation of what happened in Fort Lee are three times as likely to say trustworthy fits him very well (76 percent), compared to the third who somewhat believe him, where only 22 percent ascribes trust to Christie. And a mere 4 percent of the 44 percent who completely disbelieve Christie’s explanation see him as trustworthy; 69 percent of this group says the term does not apply to Christie whatsoever.

As for the Sandy-related allegations thrown at the governor, 41 percent think they are false, but 45 percent believe the claims. Those who think the allegations are false are more trusting of Christie than others: 44 percent say trustworthy describes Christie very well, 44 percent say somewhat well, and only 10 percent say not well at all. Just 6 percent of those whole believe the allegations think trustworthy describes the governor very well; 61 percent says it does not fit at all.

The term “sincere,” asked here for the second time, shows similar partisan divisions as in January: 16 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans say this word describes Christie very well, little changed. But there has been an 11 point drop to 28 percent of independents who now think that adjective describes Christie very well. Voters who believe Christie was aware of the lane closures and those who think his administration purposely withheld Sandy funds, are significantly less likely to call him sincere.

While just over half of all voters still see Christie as a strong leader, the numbers have taken a slight dip among Democrats (five points to 35 percent) and independents (six points to 54 percent). Eight in 10 Republicans, however, continue to say that the trait describes their governor very well.

As Bridgegate quiets, negative labels stabilize

With the absence of major new allegations in recent weeks, opinions on some of the most negative descriptors applied to Christie have stabilized. Opinions on “bully” are steady or improved among partisans of all stripes. Half of Democrats now say bully fits Christie very well, a nine-point drop from January. Independents are now at 35 percent, while only 17 percent of Republicans still feel the same. More than half of Republicans say the governor is not a bully, a feeling shared by 17 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents. Those skeptical of Christie’s claims Bridgegate and who think Sandy aid decisions were political are much more likely to label him as a bully. And voters using the GWB at least weekly are 11 to 13 points more likely to say bully fits Christie very well, compared to voters who never cross it.

Democrats particularly find Christie “arrogant,” with 62 percent saying the term describes Christie very well, although this is a nine-point drop over the last five weeks. Forty-six percent of independents feel the same, as do 25 percent of Republicans. Seven in ten voters who think it is very likely Christie knew about his staff’s alleged actions believe arrogant fits him very well, compared to just over a third of other voters. Likewise, three-quarters of those who completely disbelieve Christie’s explanation say arrogant fits very well, compared to 30 percent who somewhat believe him and just 18 percent who fully believe him. As with bully, voters who think the Sandy-related allegations are true are about three times more likely to say arrogant describes him very well than those who disbelieve the claims.

Anger and worry over Christie continue

Voters continue to experience more negative emotions toward Christie than they did pre-Bridgegate. Anger and worry remain up, and pride and enthusiasm are still down, all back to pre-Sandy levels. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans and 35 percent of independents say Christie makes them feel enthusiastic, while 61 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of independents say he makes them feel proud. Democrats have rebounded from large dips in January, up nine points to 23 percent for pride and up five points to 22 percent for enthusiasm.

Positive emotions are significantly lower among those less likely to believe Christie had no knowledge of his staff’s involvement with the GWB lane closures, those less likely to believe his explanation and those who believe allegations over Sandy funds are true.

Partisans have remained relatively steady in their feelings of anger and worry toward the governor since January. Fifty-four percent of Democrats, 38 percent of independents and 24 percent of Republicans feel angry. Similarly, 59 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of independents, and 24 percent of Republicans are worried about Christie. About half of frequent GWB users are worried and angry, compared to about 40 percent of those who use it less frequently or not at all. Sixty percent of those who say it is very unlikely Christie was unaware of the lane closures, those who do not believe his explanation, and those who believe in the Sandy-related allegations say they feel anger and worry toward the governor.

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The Latest Numbers on Bridgegate, Sandy, and Gov. Christie

Today we release the latest numbers on how Bridgegate and to some extent Sandy recovery issues are effecting the standing of Gov. Chris Christie. As the release below details, the governor’s overall ratings have stayed essentially stable since our last poll after Bridgegate broke in January. Both his favorability and overall job performance ratings are slightly higher than they were in January (though the difference is NOT statistically significant) while remaining far below his peaks in 2013. But from our perspective the more interesting story here is the collapse in job approval ratings for Christie’s Sandy recovery efforts. Throughout 2013, NJ votes gave the governor extremely high approval for post-Sandy efforts; at times more than 80% approved his job performance on Sandy even as a plurality or more disapproved other areas, like taxes and the economy.

We find approval of Gov. Christie on Sandy recovery has now dropped to 54%. Yes, it is still a majority, but the difference is quite dramatic. We see this driven in part by a nearly even split in whether voters believe allegations that the administration withheld Sandy aid from towns where Democratic Mayors did not endorse Christie’s re-election. Those who believe this have reversed course on Sandy, while those who do not remain as positive about the governor’s Sandy work as ever.  In the end, this may actually be more of a problem for Christie than Bridgegate, and we may well have settled back to the pre-Sandy status quo – about half the state approving and half not approving how the governor is doing.

One quick note. Starting this this poll, we are adjusting our reported margin of error to include what are called “design effects” related to weighting the data to better match the population. All public telephone polls report weighted results – the raw sample is rarely an exact fit for the population. So we use statistical processes to adjust to known factors in the population – in our case generally age, race, ethnicity, and gender. In making this adjustment we add more uncertainty to the results, which increases the margin of error of our estimates. However, few polls seem to clearly report this effect (the design effect). If you read the disclosure statement at the end of the PDF of the poll, you will see where we made this adjustment, increasing our reported margin of error for the registered voter sample from +/-3.7 percentage points for the raw sample to +/-3.8 percentage points for the weighted sample. It isn’t much, but it does make the margin of error more accurate.

Full text of the release is below. Click here for a PDF with the text, questions, and tables.

N.J. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE TAKES BIG HIT ON SANDY RECOVERY RATINGS
Overall favorability – steady since January – remains much lower than 2013 highs

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Bridgegate continues to dominate Gov. Chris Christie’s second term, and with new questions about how Superstorm Sandy funds have been managed, New Jersey voters have dramatically changed their perception of Christie’s job performance on Sandy recovery, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Only 54 percent now approve Christie’s efforts on Sandy, down 15 points since the mid-January poll and a 26-point drop from November 2013. Thirty-six percent disapprove, up 10 points from January, while 10 percent are unsure.

“These new numbers are a far cry from the nearly unanimous praise the governor had received for post-Sandy leadership,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “We’re seeing a real impact from recent claims involving withheld Sandy aid as political payback, as well as accusations of uneven and inappropriate distribution of recovery funds. This could have a more significant long-term impact than the Fort Lee lane closing scandal that opened Christie’s second term.”

While Sandy job approval has taken a big hit, Christie’s favorability rating (49 percent favorable to 40 percent unfavorable) is statistically unchanged from January’s 46 to 43 percent rating. Overall job approval is also stable at 55 percent; 39 percent disapprove, versus 53-41 six weeks ago.

“Positive views of Christie’s Sandy performance kept his overall ratings high throughout 2013,” noted Redlawsk. “The decline in Sandy approval has returned Christie to the pre-Sandy status quo, when about half of voters supported him and the other half did not or was unsure.”

The double-digit descent in Christie’s Sandy rating is heavily influenced by the 45 percent of voters who believe the administration withheld Sandy aid from some mayors in retaliation for not receiving their re-election support. Just 41 percent of voters think the allegations are false, while another 13 percent are uncertain.

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 22 to 28. Within this sample are 729 registered voters reported upon in this release, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Christie’s Sandy support erodes

Where Christie once enjoyed across-the-board approval for his post-Sandy leadership, divisions have opened. A majority of Democrats no longer praises the governor: just 46 percent now approve his efforts, down 15 points during the past six weeks. Disapproval has jumped to 47 percent of Democrats. But support is also eroding among independents and Republicans. Fifty-four percent of independents continue to approve of Christie’s Sandy work, down 17 points from January. Republican approval dropped a surprising 13 points, to 69 percent.

Approval of Christie’s Sandy performance was once so strong that even those with an overall unfavorable impression were supportive. That is no longer true. One-third of voters unfavorable toward Christie now approve of how he has handled Sandy recovery, down 18 points from 51 percent approval in January. Nearly two-thirds of this group now disapproves.
Christie still does well among voters with a favorable overall impression, with almost three-quarters approving his work on Sandy, but this too is down, by 15 points in the last six weeks.

“When even Republicans show eroding support of a key Christie selling point – his management of the largest natural disaster to hit the state – things are not going well, even if overall favorability ratings look stable for now,” said Redlawsk.

Among the recent Sandy-related allegations against the administration have been claims that benefits were withheld from towns where Democratic mayors failed to endorse Christie’s re-election; 45 percent of voters believe these to be true. Among those voters, only 38 percent approve the governor’s performance on Sandy, while 54 percent disapprove. Those who do not believe the claims strongly support Christie’s Sandy work: 73 percent approve, while 17 percent disapprove.

All this may boil down to partisan preferences since beliefs about the allegations themselves are heavily divided by partisanship: two-thirds of Democrats say Christie’s administration withheld the funds purposely, versus seven in 10 Republicans who say the opposite. Independents are evenly split on the question – 43 percent (true) and 42 percent (false).

Bridgegate continues to roil New Jersey voters

The division over Sandy performance parallels views on the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal. Just over half of voters suspect Christie had knowledge of his advisers’ actions in the closures, while 44 percent do not. Only 16 percent fully believe the governor’s Jan. 9 press conference explanation regarding Bridgegate, down from the 22 percent who said this in January.

Another 35 percent say they somewhat believe Christie; 44 percent do not believe him at all. In January, 32 percent somewhat believed the governor, and 42 percent did not.

Democrats are most apt to say it is very unlikely Christie did not know of his staff’s actions (51 percent), as well as to disbelieve Christie’s explanation at all (64 percent). Republicans are more supportive: 31 percent say it is somewhat likely and 32 percent say it is very likely Christie was unaware. Just over a third of Republicans fully believe his explanation, while another 41 percent somewhat believes it.

Voters who cross the George Washington Bridge at least once a week are more likely than less frequent bridge users to think Christie was unaware: 47 percent think it is very unlikely Christie did not know about the plan, and 52 percent do not believe at all the governor’s explanation.

Asked about the investigation, 38 percent say the state Legislature should continue its effort, but another 30 percent say it should defer to the U.S. Attorney. Almost a quarter says no investigation is needed.

More than half of Democrats want the Democratically-controlled Legislature to continue its efforts while 27 percent say the U.S. Attorney should take over. Twelve percent say no investigation is needed. Forty percent of Republicans say all investigations should be ended, while 31 percent say the U.S. Attorney should take the lead. Twenty percent support the Legislature continuing its probe. Independents are more split, with just over a quarter preferring no investigation at all and a third siding with each of the other options. Surprisingly, 37 percent of those who cross the George Washington Bridge at least once a week say no further investigation is necessary, although a plurality (40 percent) would prefer the state to continue.

Despite challenges, most Christie voters would stick by him

Even with the developing scandals, New Jerseyans are nowhere near ready to trade in their governor. Just one in five voters think Christie should resign in the face of the investigations, but nearly three-quarters says he should stay in office. Even Democrats are not calling for the governor’s head; just a third says he should resign. Just over three-quarters of independents and 92 percent of Republicans say Christie should remain in office.

Almost 90 percent of Christie voters say they would still vote for the governor if they had the chance to vote again. But this does not mean most would vote for him for president. Christie still trails former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 41 percent to 51 percent, in a 2016 New Jersey head-to-head matchup, although this is a significant improvement from his 34 to 55 percent deficit in January. Asked to name the one person they most want to see as the next president, Christie comes in a distant second to Clinton, drawing fewer than half of the mentions she does.

On issues other than Sandy, Christie’s ratings have remained divided. Just over four in 10 approve his work on the economy and taxes and almost half approve his performance on education.

“In the end, Governor Christie still has a solid base of support among New Jersey voters, even if it is no longer at the record levels we once saw,” said Redlawsk. “In retrospect, it was always unreasonable to expect his post-Sandy ratings would last forever, though we never anticipated how they would fall. Christie’s future may now depend on how well he can pivot to issues that have helped him in the past, including his recent focus on public worker pensions and health care costs. Many New Jerseyans remain happy to stay in his corner, at least for now.”

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Note:  On Monday we reported results in conjunction with polls done by Siena and Roanoke where we all ran a group of the same questions across three states. In that release, Christie is shown with a 48%-40% favorability rating in NJ. Today’s release reports a 49%-40% rating. Why the difference? It is because the other two centers combine “refusals” into the “don’t know” category, where we routinely drop them out. There were 3 respondents in this poll who refused to answer the Christie favorability question. Taking them out as we normally do rounds the favorable number up to 49% instead of down to 48%. But the joint report on Monday included the approach used by Siena and Roanoke. Today’s report reverts to our normal approach so we can compare to the past. These numbers are estimates, of course, with a margin of error, and the difference is meaningless in terms of substance.

 

 

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SOME WORD CLOUDS ON CHRISTIE: “BULLY” AND “BRIDGEGATE” AT THE TOP OF NEW JERSEYANS’ MINDS

Bases for Impressions of Christie Now Dominated by Mentions of “Bully” and Scandals Among New Jerseyans, Less So by Superstorm Sandy 

By Ashley Koning

Ashley Koning is Manager of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Rutgers University.

As we reported the other week, our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows Christie’s favorability rating among registered voters now virtually split at 46 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable, a double-digit drop from his 65 percent favorability rating just before his landslide re-election. But what we have not yet reported is the additional step we took on that same poll to more thoroughly investigate just why New Jerseyans felt this way.

We probed impressions of Gov. Christie, given recent events and allegations surrounding the George Washington Bridge, by asking those who said they had a favorable or unfavorable impression of the governor a follow-up open-ended question about why they felt this way:

In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE/UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?

Today’s blog post reports these results, including all respondents, and they seem quite interesting, especially when we turn the open-ended responses into word clouds.

Clear patterns emerge in the reasons given for viewing the governor favorably or unfavorably. Not surprisingly, words related to Christie as a “bully” take the top spot in descriptions of why people feel the way they do – though this is virtually entirely due to those who say they are unfavorable toward him.

Word Cloud for “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE/UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE/UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Our first word cloud just lumps all of our respondents into one group, which helps us see the relative frequency of the ideas people include in their responses from either direction. Out of everyone who answered this follow-up, about one in ten respondents said “bully” was a reason for their feelings toward the governor. A combination of phrases involving the recent allegations – “George Washington Bridge,” “Bridgegate,” and “scandal” – is also very prominent among all responses. While Superstorm Sandy and Christie’s job as governor overall still play large roles – especially for those feeling positively about him – they do so to a lesser extent than in the past and pale in comparison to the number of times New Jerseyans mention “bully.”

Of course, since we asked the question differently depending on whether a respondent is favorable or unfavorable toward Gov. Christie, it is more appropriate to look at each group independently. For those with a positive view of the governor, we find that Christie’s handling of Superstorm Sandy has faded a bit into the background with just 7 percent mentioning the storm as their primary reason for liking Christie. Instead, favorable respondents are more likely to mention something very general about Christie’s overall good job of governing and making policy decisions (the first thing mention for 22 percent), that he is doing a lot for New Jersey and improving the state (the first thing mention for 11 percent), and that he is straightforward (the first thing mention for 10 percent) and honest (the first thing mention for 9 percent).

Word Cloud for “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

We get a fascinating partisan difference, however, as shown in the next set of word clouds. Sandy is a much bigger factor for Democrats who still like Christie, as well as for independents, than it is for Republicans. In fact, Sandy barely gets mentioned at all by Republicans, while the storm is the second biggest reason among the small number of favorable Democrats; Democrats mention almost nothing else in detail, instead focusing on generic “good job” type comments.

Word Cloud for Democrats who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for Democrats who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Independents are more likely than Democrats to mention other positive reasons beyond the storm, such as focusing on Christie’s character.

Word Cloud for independents who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for independents who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Republicans, instead of mentioning Sandy, give many other reasons for liking the governor – including that he is doing a good job, cares about and is doing a lot for New Jersey, and is straightforward and honest.

Word Cloud for Republicans who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for Republicans who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [FAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

So what about those who dislike Gov. Christie? As we noted, that number has grown substantially in the wake of the “Bridgegate” scandal. In fact, the influence of the George Washington Bridge Scandal is very evident. The single most mentioned idea is Christie as a “bully”, with 18 percent making this their main reason for disliking him. “Bully” has always been right up there among the unfavorables, but respondents now say this with more frequency than ever before. Another 16 percent mention something negative about his character or attitude, such as his arrogance or untrustworthiness. Other top reasons from the past, like the way Christie treats teachers and handles the issue of education, are now slightly less likely to be mentioned than things like the “George Washington Bridge,” “Bridgegate,” and “scandal.” “George Washington Bridge” is in fact the second most evident phrase in respondents’ reasons for their negative feelings.

Word Cloud for “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Partisanship does not, however, show the different patterns we might expect. Democrats, independents, and Republicans who feel unfavorably toward the governor all most often say it is because he is a “bully,” followed by – to varying degrees of importance – something about the George Washington Bridge. Democrats are much more likely than their counterparts to say they also feel negatively because they do not like Christie’s policies or his arrogance. Sandy plays more of a role in negativity for independents and especially for Republicans. Unfavorable Republicans, though still a very small number, are also likely to say they don’t like his policies and seem particularly annoyed by Bridgegate, with many saying Christie is arrogant and dishonest.

Word Cloud for Democrats who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for Democrats who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for independents who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for independents who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for Republicans who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for Republicans who answered, “In just a word or two, please tell me why you feel [UNFAVORABLE] toward Governor Chris Christie?” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

The drop in Christie’s support seen this past month has clearly been driven by the unfolding George Washington Bridge scandal – particularly among those who feel negatively toward the governor. The temporary – albeit prolonged – hold Christie had over Democrats this past year through reelection was mostly a byproduct of Superstorm Sandy. As Christie’s Sandy efforts become a talking point of the past and Bridgegate takes center stage, these Democrats – as well as some independents – who were in Christie’s corner after the storm now have little else about the governor to support. Just as Sandy made New Jerseyans perceive the best qualities in Christie, Bridgegate is now very clearly making many of them perceive the worst.

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#4 Sandy – Rutgers-Eagleton Poll’s 2013 Top 5 Countdown

4.) One year later, Sandy recovery still has a long way to go.

In the year since Sandy, we have continually asked New Jerseyans about various aspects related to the event – everything from its aftermath to personal and state preparedness to believed connection to climate change to recovery and federal aid money to effects on summer vacation plans to the effectiveness of the “Stronger Than the Storm” ad campaign. What has been especially clear in all of this Sandy-related investigation is that New Jerseyans are still feeling the effects of the Superstorm in 2013, and even through the storm’s one-year anniversary, most do not think life in the state has returned to normal yet and do not think things will be normal again anytime soon. When last polled in November, just 12 percent of voters who think things are not normal are optimistic pre-Sandy conditions will return within another year; 61 percent say up to five years, and 13 percent think it will take up to a decade. Three percent see recovery taking more than a decade, and 6 percent say pre-Sandy normalcy will never return. This sentiment is reflected in November’s Sandy recovery ratings. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning “not at all recovered” and 10 meaning “fully recovered,” voters score the state’s overall recovery at 6.1. Asked about specifics, ratings are lower. Recovery of the Shore region is rated at 4.7, while voters score recovery for homeowners with sustained damage, at 4.8. Assessments of tourism (5.7) and business (5.9) are somewhat more favorable. The clear message here is that even after an entire year focused on rebuilding post-Sandy, complete recovery is still far off.

Sandy Recovery

 

More to come…

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NEW JERSEYANS BELIEVE SHORE RECOVERY STILL A LONG WAY OFF

Today we issue another report in our ongoing attempts to assess attitudes toward recovery from Superstorm Sandy, which hit NJ and the east coast just over a year ago.  We asked just a few questions this time, focused on how people think the recovery is going. Two of these questions we last asked in April (Are we back to normal; how long will it take) and two of the others we asked in June. (Rating recovery for the state overall and for the Shore on a 1-10 scale.)

New Jersey voters appear to be less positive about recovery than they were a few months ago. While more now think we’re already back to normal, the large majority does not and they think it will be a while. And recovery ratings have definitely slipped for both the Shore and the state overall. We added a few other targets for the question this time, including whether businesses, homeowners with damage, and tourism are recovered. Assessments of the Shore recovery are the worst of the group, and are noticeably lower than they were in June.

The text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with full text, questions, and tables.

NEW JERSEYANS BELIEVE SHORE RECOVERY STILL A LONG WAY OFF

Two in three residents say state is not yet ‘back to normal,’ Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds

 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – New Jerseyans are still feeling the effects of Sandy one year after the hurricane pounded the Garden State, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of registered voters, with two-thirds saying the state is not yet “back to normal.” The results represent some improvement since April 2013, when 78 percent said life here was not yet normal. Most still think it will be years before normalcy returns.

Just 12 percent of respondents who think things are not normal are optimistic pre-Sandy conditions will return within another year. Sixty-one percent expect a return to normalcy might take up to five years, and 13 percent think it will take up to a decade. Three percent see recovery taking more than a decade, and 6 percent say pre-Sandy normalcy will never return. Another six percent are uncertain.

“While slightly more Garden Staters think we are back, many are no more optimistic about the length of recovery than they were back in April,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “At that time, 78 percent saw a return to normalcy taking as long as five years. That number has declined only five points. Clearly, New Jerseyans continue to see a long haul ahead.”

Despite the modest improvement in outlook, most respondents give low to mediocre ratings to progress of the recovery. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning “not at all recovered” and 10 meaning “fully recovered,” voters score the state’s overall recovery at 6.1. Asked about specifics, ratings are lower. Recovery of the Shore region is rated at 4.7, while voters score recovery for homeowners with sustained damage, at 4.8. Assessments of tourism (5.7) and business (5.9) are somewhat more favorable.

In a June poll, voters gave Shore recovery a mark of 6.2. The state’s overall recovery mark also has dropped, from 6.9 in the last poll.

“Since summer, we have seen the Seaside Park boardwalk fire and an increase in media attention to those who have not yet recovered from the storm,” said Redlawsk. “Moreover, there were reports of disappointing summer tourism. It is not surprising people feel less positive about the recovery.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 804 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Oct. 28 – Nov 2.

Sandy’s impact and partisanship influence assessment

Even though ratings are down from April, Voters’ assessment of the recovery of New Jersey as a whole is significantly better than perceptions of its individual aspects. Voters most often give the state’s recovery a 7, chosen by 24 percent, with another quarter rating the overall recovery from 8 to 10. Voters who supported Gov. Chris Christie are much more positive than voters in state Sen. Barbara Buono’s camp, with an average rating of 6.4, compared to 5.7. Those who approve of Christie’s job on Sandy give an average rating that is a point and a half higher than those who disapprove of his efforts.

Assessments of the state’s overall recovery are significantly higher than those specifically focused on the Jersey Shore. Among all voters, the most frequent rating for the region’s recovery is 5, given by just under one-quarter of voters. Another quarter rate Shore recovery at 6 or 7, but almost as many rate it at 3 or 4. The majority of New Jerseyans, 64 percent, rate Shore recovery at 5 or lower.

Those personally affected by Sandy rate progress at the Shore lower, at 4.5, compared to those who were not personally impacted, who rate it a 4.9. Those who live in Shore counties, however, give recovery slightly higher rating on average (4.8) compared to the 4.6 awarded by urban voters, the 4.4 by those living in suburban counties, and exurban resident’s average rating of 4.5.

Recovery ratings for the Shore are also fueled by partisan allegiances and feelings towards Christie. Republicans give a higher average rating (5.0) than either independents (4.6) or Democrats (4.7). Similar patterns occur based on vote preference: Christie voters see Shore recovery at 4.9, while Buono voters give it a 4.3 rating.

“While damage occurred throughout much of the state, most of the focus on recovery has been aimed at the Jersey Shore, since that region is so iconic,” noted Redlawsk. “This has convinced many that the region’s recovery lags the state’s. Even the governor’s supporters see a big gap between the overall state recovery and the Shore’s.”

Assessments of recovery for homeowners who sustained damage from Sandy are similar to those for the Shore. Voters statewide are most likely to give progress on this matter a 5, with the majority – 65 percent – scoring homeowner recovery at 5 or lower.

Shore residents are most negative about how those who suffered damage are doing, giving a 4.6 rating, lower than they give the region’s recovery generally. But statewide, voters personally affected by Sandy score homeowner recovery slightly higher than those who were not directly affected, 4.8 to 4.6. As with Shore recovery, Republicans on average give a 5.2 rating to homeowner recovery, higher than independents (4.7) and Democrats (4.5).

Business and tourism recovery seen slightly better

Voters are slightly more positive about progress with New Jersey tourism and businesses in general, than about the Shore, rating recovery in these areas at 5.7 and 5.9, respectively. Voters are most likely to rate tourism, 5, and all businesses, 7.  Almost three-quarters of voters give tourism a 5 or higher, as do 80 percent for businesses overall.

While tourism recovery is rated slightly higher by voters living down the Shore (5.8) than in most other regions, voters personally affected by Sandy give lower ratings than those who were not (5.6 versus 5.8). Republicans and those favorable toward Christie rate tourism higher than do Democrats and independents, and those who approve of Christie’s handling of Sandy specifically rate tourism more than a point higher than those who do not.

As for businesses in general, those living down the Shore give the lowest rating (5.6) compared to other regions, as do those in the lowest income bracket (5.5). Voters who were personally affected by the storm show little difference from those who were not (5.9 versus 6.0.)  As with other areas, those in Christie’s corner once again give higher ratings than those who are not.

Impact of Sandy lingers

Sixty-seven percent say post-Sandy New Jersey is not back to normal, while 28 percent say it is, and 6 percent are unsure. Not surprisingly, 76 percent of those in the hardest hit Shore areas say things are not back to normal, higher than in other regions of the state.

While more than a quarter of voters say New Jersey has returned to normalcy, the rest are not overly optimistic, expecting rebuilding to still take another one to five years. Those in the Shore region are least hopeful. Among shore residents awaiting normalcy, only 9 percent see recovery happening within the next year and another 58 percent say one to five years. But 18 percent say it will take five to 10 years, 5 percent say 10 or more years, and 7 percent say the state will never return to pre-Sandy normalcy.

Partisanship colors optimism, with Republicans more than twice as likely as independents and Democrats to say the state will return to normal in a year; they are also much less likely to say it will take much longer or will never fully return to normal. Those favorable toward Christie and those who approve of his handling of Sandy show similar patterns.

About half the state’s residents say they were personally affected by Sandy and its aftermath.

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MOST NEW JERSEYANS SUPPORT CHRISTIE’S APPEARANCE IN STORM ADS

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

MOST NEW JERSEYANS SUPPORT CHRISTIE’S APPEARANCE IN STORM ADS, BUT THINK COMMERCIALS’ CREATORS CHOSEN FOR POLITICAL REASONS

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – While state Sen. Barbara Buono continues to criticize Gov. Chris Christie’s involvement with New Jersey’s “Stronger than the Storm” ad campaign, 54 percent of registered voters side with the incumbent, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. The majority say Christie’s appearance in the commercials was focused on promoting confidence in the shore’s recovery, while 34 percent say the appearances were mostly about gaining publicity for his re-election campaign. Another 11 percent are unsure.

Views are more mixed over the appropriateness of the choice of MWW, the company the state used to create the ad campaign. Democrats criticized the firm in recent months for its supposed close ties to Christie, and a price tag reportedly $2 million higher than its competitors. By a 2 to 1 margin, voters believe MWW was chosen primarily for political reasons. A noteworthy 37 percent are uncertain about where why the firm was chosen.

“While voters see Christie’s appearance as part of his job to promote the state’s recovery, many are cynical about why MWW was chosen,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “We specifically tested Senator Buono’s criticism to see if it resonates, finding that many view the award of the project as political. But that perspective does not change the positive view of the governor’s role in the ad campaign.”

The “Stronger than the Storm” campaign generated high levels of awareness, as 80 percent of voters saw or heard the ads promoting Jersey shore tourism this summer.

Results are from a poll of 925 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Sept 3-9. The subsample of 814 registered voters reported on here has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.

Partisanship for sure at the shore

While a majority of respondents approve of Christie’s role in the ads, the level of support varies, with those typically in Christie’s corner more favorable. More than 70 percent of those planning to vote for Christie support his appearance in the ads. Just over a quarter of Buono voters feel the same. Republicans are the strongest backers on the issue, at 73 percent compared to 56 percent of independents. Democrats are evenly split – 44 percent support Christie’s appearance, but 43 percent think it is about personal publicity. Thirty-three percent of independents and 17 percent of Republicans view the campaign as mostly about publicity for the governor.

Personal experience with Hurricane Sandy and awareness of the ads also affect opinion about Christie’s starring role. Those personally affected by the super storm are slightly more likely to say Christie was promoting recovery, 58 percent versus 53 percent of those not affected. Respondents from the hardest hit parts of the state agree more strongly than others that Christie’s appearance was nonpolitical – more than 70 percent from the shore and 59 percent from northwestern exurban counties.

Those who actually have seen or heard the commercials support Christie’s role as the shore recovery spokesperson by a nearly 2 to 1 margin – 60 percent to the 33 percent who think he appeared primarily for re-election publicity. Those who have not seen the ads are much more split: 35 percent side with Christie, 39 percent side with Buono’s criticism and 26 percent are uncertain.

“Seeing the ads clearly made voters think of Christie as promoting recovery, something that we all expect a governor to do,” said Redlawsk. “For those who did not see the ads, there is a much more willingness to simply see this as just another part of Christie’s re-election campaign.”

Voters assume politics in choice of campaign’s creators

Voters are more likely to side with Democrats when it comes to the controversy about MWW’s selection. Even Christie voters are divided, with 34 percent saying the company was the best choice for the job, 27 percent believing the choice as political and another 39 percent are unsure. Those voting for Buono are more united in their belief that politics was at play: 66 percent call the choice of MWW politics, and 28 percent are unsure. Only 6 percent believe the company was the best choice.

Aside from Christie voters, the partisan divide is strong. But Republicans are more likely to express uncertainty than to support MWW. Thirty percent say the pick was for political reasons, while another 34 percent support the choice, and 37 percent are unsure. A plurality of Democrats and independents feels political motives were behind the selection, though over a third of each group remains uncertain. Just 14 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independents support the choice as fair and square.

Even those who have seen or heard the ads are most likely to feel that the selection was political – 42 percent of viewers compared to 22 percent who support MWW. Thirty-six percent are uncertain. Those personally affected by Sandy are just as likely as those not affected to believe the company was chosen based on politics instead of who was best for the job.

“Of course, voters have relatively little information on this issue,” noted Redlawsk. “Thus, for the most part, the responses of those opposed to Christie are not surprising. What is surprising is that the governor’s supporters are more divided, suggesting that cynicism about the decisions politicians make exists even when the decision is made by your own team.”

‘Stronger than the storm’ widely viewed

Eighty percent of New Jersey voters saw or heard the state’s “Stronger than the Storm” advertising campaign and only 18 percent have not. Shore residents (85 percent) and exurbanites (88 percent) are especially familiar with it, though about three-quarters of voters in every other region encountered the ads as well.

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Let’s look at Sandy recovery: NJ residents give a relatively positive rating

Today we move somewhat away from raw politics and look some more at how New Jersey residents are viewing recovery from Superstorm Sandy, which hit late last October. Influenced by Gov. Chris Christie’s statement that the recovery in tourist areas of the Shore is at 8 out of 10 (see, not completely away from politics!) we asked New Jersey residents what they think. In particular we asked them to rate the recovery on a 1 to 10 scale, both at the shore and throughout the rest of the state. While positive, residents are not quite as positive as the governor. We also asked whether folks went down the shore for the traditional Memorial Day start of summer – 15% did – and we find that those who visited rate recovery somewhere higher than those who did not. It seems that seeing might be believing.

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

NEW JERSEYANS: SHORE RECOVERY SLIGHTLY LAGS REST OF STATE; ‘STRONGER THAN THE STORM’ AD CAMPAIGN HAVING SOME IMPACT

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – New Jersey residents are somewhat less positive than Gov. Chris Christie about the state’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. During Memorial Day weekend, Christie graded “conditions on the boardwalk” at the Jersey shore 8 out of 10. Residents, however, say shore recovery stands at 6.4 out of 10, somewhat lower than the 7.0 average they give the rest of the state.

The state’s “stronger than the storm” ad campaign to promote the shore’s recovery has been seen by more than 7 in 10 residents, but only somewhat influences perceptions about conditions at the shore. Those who have seen the ads are more than twice as likely to have visited the shore for Memorial Day weekend as those who have not. But simply viewing the ads does not result in giving higher shore recovery ratings on average.

Still, spending that weekend at the beach did improve ratings slightly. The 15 percent who went down the shore give higher average ratings (6.6) than those who did not (6.3) and are 10 points more likely to rate recovery at 7 or above.

“New Jerseyans overall lean toward the optimistic end of the scale on Sandy recovery,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “And those who visited the shore during Memorial Day weekend appear to have had this positive perception reinforced, despite the bad weather during part of the weekend.”

Residents are mostly positive about President Obama’s second post-Sandy visit immediately after Memorial Day: 65 percent say the president’s visit was valuable for bringing attention to the region, although a third think it made little difference.

Three-quarters also applaud the unlikely bipartisan “bromance” between the president and Christie. In line with results reported by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll following Obama’s immediate post-Sandy visit, large majorities of Garden Staters across all demographic groups – including Republicans – believe the show of camaraderie between the president and the governor shows needed cooperation and bipartisanship throughout the Sandy recovery and rebuilding process.

Results are from a poll of 888 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from June 3-9 with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.

Shore recovery ratings vary by region

Impressions of the Jersey Shore’s recovery are more positive than negative. Across the state, 48 percent of residents rate recovery at 7 or higher on a 1 to 10 scale. Most frequently they award a score of 7, given by nearly 25 percent. Another 17 percent rate shore recovery at 8 on the 10-point scale. Eight percent grade recovery as a 9 or 10.

While the statewide average recovery rating for the Jersey shore is 6.4, there are some regional differences. The most battered parts of New Jersey are least positive: shore county residents rate recovery at 6.2, close to the statewide average, but northwest exurban county residents are less positive at 5.9. Suburban residents are the most positive, with a 6.6 average score.

Reflecting the differences in average ratings, exurban county residents in the northwest are the most likely to say recovery is only at 5 on the scale (27 percent), while shore residents are most likely to give shore recovery a rating of 7.0 (22 percent).

The average shore recovery rating for those personally affected by Superstorm Sandy is lower than those not affected: 6.3 versus 6.5. These residents assign lower ratings for recovery; 31 percent rate the shore’s comeback between 1 and 5, as compared to 27 percent of those not affected by the storm.

‘Stronger than the storm’ widely viewed

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of residents have seen or heard the state’s “Stronger than the Storm” advertising campaign promoting the Jersey shore as back in business for summer. Shore residents are especially familiar with it; 78 percent have seen or heard the ads, as have 77 percent in urban areas. Slightly fewer residents from other parts of the state have seen the ads: 71 percent in exurban areas and 68 percent in both the suburbs and south Jersey.

The ad campaign appears to be making some difference in encouraging summer tourism. Of those who have seen or heard the ads, 18 percent visited the shore for Memorial Day weekend, compared to only 8 percent of those unfamiliar with the ad campaign.

Additionally, those who have not seen the ads are more than twice as likely to be unsure about shore recovery (12 percent) compared to those who have (5 percent). Those aware of the ads are five percentage points more likely to rate the shore’s recovery at 7 or higher than those who have not seen the campaign, though they are also less likely to rate recovery at 10.

Actually visiting the Jersey Shore seems to be more effective than the ad campaign. For those who did visit during Memorial Day weekend, shore recovery looks better on average: a score of 6.6 compared to 6.3 for nonvisitors and are 10 points more likely to rate recovery a 7 or above.

Statewide recovery

Residents rate recovery for the rest of the state somewhat better than at the shore: 59 percent grade conditions at 7 or higher. The most popular scores are 7 (19 percent) and 8 (23 percent).

Residents from all regions score the state’s recovery higher than the shore’s, with south Jersey and shore county residents rating statewide recovery at 6.8 on average, suburbanites 6.9, exurbanites 7.2, and urbanites 7.3.

The average New Jersey recovery rating for those personally affected by Sandy is virtually the same as the average for those not affected, 7.0 to 6.9. Memorial Day weekend shore-goers also give a higher rating on average to the rest of the state than do nonshore goers: 7.3 to 6.9, as do those in the highest income bracket (7.3) compared to those at every other income level (6.8 to 6.9).

Obama’s visit and ‘bipartisan bromance’

While nearly two thirds of residents says that the president’s visit to the shore last month brought valuable attention to the region, Democrats are almost twice as likely as Republicans to believe this – 80 percent, compared to 42 percent; 61 percent of independents agree. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans say that the visit did not make much of a difference, versus 35 percent of independents and only 19 percent of Democrats.

Sixty percent of residents of shore counties – the region that Obama actually visited – say the visit was valuable, compared to 38 percent who say it did not make much difference. Exurbanites, who live in the other region heavily affected by Sandy, feel similarly. Urban residents – who are also more Democratic – are 11 points more likely to think the president’s visit was beneficial (at 71 percent), as are 69 percent of suburbanites. But those personally affected by Sandy feel no different about the visit than those who were not.

The Obama-Christie bipartisan “bromance,” on display once again during the president’s visit, is widely popular in the state. Seventy-five percent say that their political relationship shows needed cooperation and bipartisanship, compared to only 12 percent who say that Christie has gone too far in his praise of and partnership with the president. More than 70 percent of Democrats, independents and Republicans agree.

Forty-six percent believe the governor’s bipartisan relationship with the president will help his chances if he chooses to run for president in 2016; only 10 percent say it will hurt, while 44 percent say it will make no difference or are unsure. Democrats, at 50 percent, are eight points more positive than Republicans on the benefit of the relationship. Almost half (45 percent) of independents find it beneficial.

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Superstorm Sandy and Global Climate Change Beliefs

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

SANDY’S LEGACY: CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL FOR NEW JERSEYANS, RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL FINDS

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Following two years of storms like Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, and the 2011 Halloween blizzard, nearly two-thirds of New Jerseyans see global climate change as the likely culprit, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Only 29 percent see the storms as isolated weather events. A majority says they are more likely to believe in global climate change as a result of the storms that hit New Jersey in 2011 and 2012.

Nearly half believe it is at least somewhat likely that global climate change will cause another natural disaster like Sandy in their own community within the next year, while 47 percent disagree. But three-quarters of Garden Staters say it is at least somewhat likely climate change will cause a natural disaster somewhere in the U.S. during that time, while only 20 percent consider it unlikely.

Residents also overwhelmingly expect that consumer costs will rise due to disasters from climate change, and they believe the federal government will have to spend more for recovery from storms made worse by global climate change.

Across all of the questions asked, those not affected by Sandy were not significantly different in their responses from those who were.

“The disaster trifecta New Jersey faced in 2011 and 2012 has residents feeling gloomy about weather prospects for the future, even if Sandy did not hit them directly,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “Even those who don’t expect their own community to suffer again this year think climate change all but ensures another calamity somewhere in the country.”

Results are from a poll of 923 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from April 3-7. The margin of error is +/-3.2 percentage points.

Sharp partisan divide on climate change

The effects of recent weather disasters has large numbers of Democrats and independents convinced that climate change is to blame, but Republicans generally maintain that the storms are isolated events. More than 80 percent of Democrats see climate change causing recent disasters, as do 60 percent of independents. But only about 33 percent of Republicans agree, while 61 percent think the storms were not climate change driven.

While about a third of Republicans say the storms have made them more likely to believe in global climate change, a clear majority of GOP backers say their opinion remains unchanged, despite the storms. But two-thirds of Democrats say they are more likely to believe in climate change now, as do half of independents.

“Global climate change remains a contentious political issue, regardless of the apparent effects or the scientific data,” noted Redlawsk. “New Jersey’s Republicans, like Republicans nationally, do not view changing weather patterns as a result of global climate change. The gulf between them and Democrats remains as wide as ever.”

Women are nine points more likely than men to believe storms like Irene and Sandy result from climate change (69 percent to 60 percent). South Jersey and shore county residents (55 percent and 57 percent, respectively) are less likely to see these storms as due to climate change. About seven-in-10 urban and suburban residents think differently.

Nearly three-quarters of those who blame recent storms on climate change also say those storms made them more likely to believe climate change is real. The same percentage of residents who see Sandy and Irene as isolated weather events say there has been no change in their views on climate change. Women are 11 points more likely than men to say the storms made them believe in climate change. Regionally, 63 percent of suburban residents say they are more likely to believe climate change post-Sandy, while only 39 percent of those in the exurban counties of northwestern New Jersey feel the same.

Most expect more climate change-driven storms

While about half of respondents think it is at least somewhat likely that a global climate change-caused disaster will hit their community in the next year, only 19 percent think it is very likely. But a majority thinks it is very likely that a natural disaster caused by climate change will strike somewhere in the United States. An additional 25 percent says such a disaster is somewhat likely, meaning more than 75 percent sees some chance of another Sandy-like disaster in the U.S. in the near future.

“Residents do not think Sandy is the end of it, as far as New Jersey or the country is concerned,” said Redlawsk. “Given the belief of most residents that climate change is responsible for Sandy, Garden Staters are realistic about the chances of it happening again, here or elsewhere.”

As with belief that climate change drove Sandy, partisanship again divides opinions. Twenty-eight percent of Democrats say another Sandy-like storm driven by climate change is likely to strike their own community in the next year; only 9 percent of Republicans feel likewise. About twice as many Democrats as Republicans think such a storm is very likely in the U.S. in the near term.

“It is not surprising that Republicans, who don’t think recent storms were driven by climate change, are unlikely to think it will cause future storms,” said Redlawsk. “But clearly, most other New Jerseyans do see a role for global climate change.”

Those personally affected by Sandy are six points more likely than those who were not to say a climate change-driven natural disaster is very likely in their own community in the next year, but this difference vanishes when asked about the country as a whole. More millennials (those under 30) say a disaster in the next year is very likely either near them (39 percent) or somewhere in the U.S. (55 percent) than are other residents.

More disasters, more cost

Residents overwhelmingly believe that both the federal government and individuals will have to pay more due to consequences of climate change. Eighty-two percent say it is at least somewhat likely that the federal government will be required to increase disaster funding, and 8 in 10 also think it is at least somewhat likely they will personally have to pay more for consumer goods and services due to the impact of climate change on businesses in the next year.

Those more likely to believe in climate change post-Sandy are also more likely to believe that government funding will need to be increased – 72 percent say very likely. Likewise, three-quarters of those who believe recent storms have been caused by climate change feel the same, compared to only 30 percent of those who say the storms are isolated events.

Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans (74 percent to 34 percent) to say it is very likely federal disaster funding will need to increase; 53 percent of independents feel the same.  More women (63 percent), those 18 to 29 (67 percent) and urban residents (67 percent) say it is very likely that federal costs will increase due to natural disasters caused by climate change.

Democrats are also much more likely than Republicans to expect financial costs of climate change to affect them personally. Sixty-two percent of Democrats say increased costs for goods and services due to climate change are very likely compared to 51 percent of independents and 43 percent of Republicans.

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NJ Residents Expect Return to “Normal” to Take a While

Today we have some additional questions on Sandy recovery from our latest poll. We look at the recovery effort, and in particular, measures that should be taken in dealing with storm damaged areas. Most NJ residents expect recovery will take a while – few think we’ll be done in the next year.

Full test of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with questions and tables.

MOST NEW JERSEYANS SAY RETURN TO ‘NORMAL’ FOLLOWING SANDY WILL TAKE YEARS
Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds nearly all support changes to flood-prone areas

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Nearly three-quarters of New Jerseyans say life is not yet “back to normal” after Superstorm Sandy, and most of those think it will be years before that happens, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. While 15 percent of those who say normalcy has not returned are optimistic that it will return within one year, 64 percent see a one to five year horizon before the state returns to pre-Sandy conditions. Nearly 20 percent are more pessimistic: 11 percent think a return to normal will take five to 10 years, 2 percent see it taking more than a decade and 7 percent say the state will never get back to normal.

As New Jersey begins to address concerns about the future of coastal areas prone to storm-surge flooding, large majorities of residents support a range of preventative measures proposed to limit future damage.

Nearly 90 percent either strongly or somewhat favor the mandatory use of pilings to elevate buildings in flood-prone areas and requiring the building of sand dunes or seawalls. More than 80 percent want to encourage rebuilding of homes and businesses further from the waterfront. About 70 percent are at least somewhat supportive of converting formerly developed land into public beaches, parks or wetlands and nearly the same percentage supports using public funds to replenish sand and create wider beaches.

New Jerseyans are all but evenly split – 48 percent favoring, 47 percent opposing – on whether shorefront development should simply be repaired to its pre-Sandy state without significant changes. Just over half give some support to abandoning parts of waterfront towns if repairs are seen to cost “too much in government funds,” but others would rebuild regardless of cost.

“Most residents recognize Sandy recovery is a long-term process, and know it will be quite some time before we have recovered,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “In addition they support efforts to ensure damage of this magnitude is less likely in the future, even if it means implementing such costly measures as dune construction and elevated buildings.”

Results are from a poll of 923 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from April 3-7. The margin of error is +/-3.2 percentage points.

Impact of Sandy not going away soon

About half the state’s residents were personally affected by the storm and its aftermath: 10 percent seriously, 39 percent moderately and 51 percent a little. Sixty-three percent in northwest exurban counties and 59 percent in shore counties were personally affected. Only 22 percent of south Jersey/Philadelphia area residents say they were affected by Sandy. More than half of urban and suburban residents say they felt Sandy’s impact personally.

Seventy-four percent say the state is not back to normal post-Sandy, while 21 percent say it is, and 5 percent are unsure. Those personally affected by the storm are five points more likely to say life is not yet back to normal (76 percent to 71 percent). Not surprisingly, those in the hardest hit exurban (78 percent) and shore regions (83 percent) are most likely to think things are not back to normal compared to other areas of the state.

While more than 20 percent of residents believe New Jersey has returned to normalcy, the rest are not overly optimistic about how long it will take to recover, and see rebuilding taking from one to five years. Younger residents are more optimistic: those under age 30 are three times more likely to think things are already back to normal, compared to those 50 and over. Among younger residents who still think the state is not back to normal, nearly 20 percent think a return to normalcy will happen within the next year, compared to only 11 percent of senior citizens.

Lower- income residents are also more optimistic; nearly a quarter say recovery will take less than a year. But only 5 percent of those with the highest incomes agree.

“For the most part, New Jerseyans seem realistic about the challenges facing the state,” said Redlawsk. “While some see things as already back to normal, most recognize the recovery effort is a long-term event. While people hope it will all go well, they recognize it’s a long slog.”

Support for strong precautionary measures in flood zones

Given an assortment of proposals for rebuilding areas most prone to storm-surge flooding, most New Jerseyans support a range of precautionary actions, but fewer support abandoning the land or leaving it unchanged. Sixty-four percent strongly support building sand dunes or seawalls, and another 23 percent offer some support. Those personally affected by Sandy are about seven points more likely than others to strongly support requiring dunes and seawalls.

Seven in 10 residents with incomes under $50,000 strongly support this proposal, compared to 57 percent with incomes over $150,000. Even 61 percent of shore resident strongly support dunes and seawalls, though support is even greater in other parts of the state, except for exurban counties where it drops to 57 percent.

Similarly, across the state, 64 percent strongly and 23 percent somewhat support elevating buildings on pilings to lessen future flood damage. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to strongly support this preventive measure, 71 percent to 58 percent. Lower-income and younger residents also are stronger supporters than others on average.

Fewer residents, 57 percent, strongly support moving development further from the waterfront, while another 27 percent somewhat support it. Democrats are once again more likely to strongly support this option (61 percent), as are seniors (72 percent), those in the lowest income bracket (64 percent) and those living in suburban and exurban areas (both at 62 percent).

In contrast, plans that include either abandonment or takeover of property or weaker precautionary measures are not viewed as favorably. Only 36 percent strongly support converting formerly developed land into public open spaces, while 35 percent offer some support. Men are much more likely to offer strong support for this plan than women (43 percent to 29 percent). Residents of exurban counties (46 percent) are the strongest supporters in the state.

Thirty-seven percent strongly support, and 34 percent somewhat support, simply replenishing and widening beaches as a precautionary measure. Residents personally affected by Sandy (42 percent versus 22 percent not affected) and those who live in shore counties (47 percent) are more likely to strongly support this proposal.

Residents show the least support for proposals to abandon parts of a waterfront town if repairs cost too much government money, or to simply rebuild as things were. Thirty percent strongly support and 25 percent somewhat support abandoning damaged properties altogether if repair costs will be too high. Older residents are more likely to strongly support this approach (38 percent), as are men (39 percent). Only 20 percent of urban residents strongly favor this option, but 34 percent of shore and suburban residents are strong supporters.

Only 24 percent strongly support and another 24 percent somewhat support returning damaged areas to their pre-Sandy condition with no significant changes. Those not affected by Sandy are five points more likely than those who were affected to strongly support this proposal, but the proposal, nevertheless, gets limited support compared to other options.

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