We’re coming toward the end of the releases on our latest poll. Two more after today – one on attitudes toward same-sex marriage and the other on the burning question of whether New Jersey voters prefer Jersey Corn or Jersey Tomatoes! Stay tuned next week for that one…
Today we add a little more context to Pres. Obama’s deteriorating situation in New Jersey. As we have already discussed, his favorability ratings have declined along with his job performance ratings. Here we also report that the President’s “re-elect” number looks bad as well. When we ask people if he “deserves a second term” only 43 percent say yes, down from 48 percent in February. The no’s are at 47 percent, up from 39 percent six months ago. Why? Well, frustration and anger at Washington, and, I suspect, the economy itself, are fueling this. We have numbers on the first, though not on the economy.
One very small ray of good news from the president’s perspective, I suppose, is that fewer NJ voters say the Obama administration is un-American or Obama is a socialist than last year. As for the Republicans, Rick Perry’s entrance came as we were polling, and we find that while Republicans only only somewhat satisfied with the field as it stands, those we polled after his entry into the race are more satisfied than those we polled beforehand. Still the plurality of NJ Republican voters can’t name a preference when asked an open ended question, and no one candidate (Romney) gets more than 16 percent. A long way to go until the Republican race settles down. The full text of the press release follows. You can get a PDF of the text and associated tables here.
NEW JERSEY VOTERS: OBAMA DOES NOT DESERVE A SECOND TERM; REPUBLICANS SOMEWHAT SATISFIED WITH CHOICES
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Only 43 percent of New Jersey’s registered voters think President Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected in 2012, down from 48 percent in February 2011, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Another 47 percent say Obama does not deserve to be re-elected, up from 39 percent in February. Meanwhile, the state’s Republican voters are not overly enthusiastic about their potential nominees, with only 3 percent “very satisfied,” 56 percent “somewhat satisfied” and 31 percent “not satisfied” with the GOP field.
“The continuing economic climate, coupled with voter frustration at Washington, has created feelings of discontent that are clearly hurting the president’s chances for re-election,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “The dramatic decline in support for Obama comes mostly from independents. Even so, it doesn’t seem Republicans are particularly happy with their options.”
Results are from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of 615 registered voters conducted among both landline and cell phone households from August 9 – 15, with a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.
Independents drive Obama re-election down sharply
While 80 percent of Democrats continue to support Obama, only 7 percent of Republicans want to see him re-elected, half of the 14 percent who said so in February 2011. Independents have turned away from Pres. Obama, with only 33 percent saying he deserves a second term, while 47 percent say the president does not deserve re-election.
About 20 percent of independents want to see the deficit crisis in Washington resolved only using across-the-board budget cuts, and more than three-quarters of them say Obama does not deserve a new term. But so do nearly half of the 42 percent of independents who want both tax increases and cuts.
“Despite his best efforts to find middle ground, the president is losing favor with independent voters here,” noted Redlawsk. “It seems possible this is a direct repudiation of his approach to the debt crisis and the economy. Most independents want at least some tax increases on the rich to help fix the deficit, and many may feel Obama has failed to follow through on his own demands for increased revenues. Given more independents were against rather than for the debt ceiling agreement, this seems one likely reason for Obama’s decline in New Jersey. “
Ambivalent, angry and frustrated voters oppose Obama second term
Support for a second term is strongly related to voters’ impressions of the president; 88 percent with a favorable impression support re-election. The same percentage with an unfavorable view says Obama does not deserve a second term. Among the 12 percent uncertain about the President, 43 percent do not support a second term, compared to 24 percent who do.
Anger and frustration with Washington generally spills over to opposing Obama’s re-election. Large percentages of voters are angry (73 percent) or believe Washington “no longer works” (69 percent). Among these groups, support for a second Obama term is weak: half of those angered by Washington do not support a second term, as do 54 percent of those believing Washington is dysfunctional. Forty percent of angry voters support a second term, but only 37 percent who see Washington as broken agree.
“Most voters are angry and certain Washington doesn’t work. But that anger is not only directed at the president,” Redlawsk said. “We recently showed that more New Jerseyans actually blame Republicans in Congress for the debt ceiling crisis – Tea Party and mainstream – but the anger at Washington spreads well beyond the House and Senate chambers.”
Many Voters say Obama does not understand them
While a slim majority of voters says that “President Obama understands people like me,” 44 percent disagree. Those who say Obama understands them are very supportive of re-election, with 72 percent saying he deserves a new term. Among voters who think Obama does not understand them, a whopping 86 percent say the president should not be returned to office.
“People want the president to show empathy and having nearly half of voters believe Obama does not understand them is a recipe for failure,” said Redlawsk, who noted 18 months ago, only 36 percent thought he was “disconnected from people like me.”
At the same time, voters are less likely to hold more extreme views of the president than in a September 2010 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, when 25 percent said the administration was “un-American” and 39 percent saw the President as a “socialist.” Only 15 percent now see the administration as un-American, while 29 percent still perceive Obama as a socialist.
Republicans less than completely satisfied with choices
A majority (56 percent) of New Jersey Republicans and GOP-leaning independents report being only “somewhat satisfied” with their choices for a 2012 challenger. Just 3 percent reported being very satisfied; 31 percent are not satisfied with the current field of candidates, and another 10 percent are not sure how they feel.
Asked an open-ended question about their preference, 40 percent of Republican voters could not name any candidate, about the same as in a February poll (42 percent). Among Republicans and leaners, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (16 percent, three points higher than February) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (14 percent) are essentially tied. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a distant third at 6 percent, one point higher than Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman.
“The general sense that Republicans nationwide are still searching for a standard-bearer to take on President Obama is reinforced in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “Governor Christie’s numbers say nothing more than Republicans take him at his word that he is not running for president.”
Tea Party Republicans more satisfied, also split between Romney and Perry
Tea Party supporters (52 percent of Republicans) feel differently about their choices than do other Republicans. Almost seven-in-10 (68 percent) are more likely to be at least somewhat satisfied, compared to only 47 percent of other Republicans, and less likely to have no preference (only one-third cannot name a choice). As was true in February, Romney is the candidate of choice among Tea Party supporters (20 percent). Perry is easily within the margin of error for this small subsample at 16 percent, nine points higher than Bachman.
Perry May Shake up race
Perry’s candidacy may cause New Jersey Republicans to re-evaluate the field – only about half were surveyed after his announcement. After he entered the race, GOP satisfaction for their candidates increased 11 points to 61 percent “Even with a small sample, we see a trend toward fewer Republicans favoring Romney and more naming Perry,” Redlawsk said.