A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Understanding the Future of New Jersey’s Most Important Problem

By Brandon Diaz-Abreu

Brandon Diaz-Abreu is a data visualization and graphic representation intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) and a sophomore at Rutgers University.

In our most recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, New Jerseyans continue to say that taxes, followed closely by the economy and jobs, are the most important problems facing the Garden State – a combined 53 percent. Our previous polls show that these two issues have consistently been mentioned as the top problems since February 2013. But while there is a lot of focus on how the prolonged reign of these issues impacts politics in the Garden State, a closer inspection reveals some possible new trends in the years to come.

Approximately 10-13 percent of New Jersey residents have said education is the top problem in the state in the same time period as stated above, consistently ranked third or fourth as the most important issue. But when we look closer at this question by age and region, we see that each month, education is the first or second most important problem for people 18-39 years old (21 percent this past February) and is usually a close second for people who live in urban areas (12 percent this past February) – arguably two of the groups most impacted by this issue.

For young adults, the rising costs of higher education is one part of the issue that looms large: young college students are worried about how to pay tuition rates that are on the rise, and recent college graduates may be struggling to pay off their accumulated student loans. As for urban residents, their heightened interest in this issue may stem from concerns for quality of education and child safety in urban school systems.

As we can see in the table below, the issue of education has become an increasingly important problem to these particular groups, as well as to the New Jersey population overall, between 2009 and now. Though taxes and the economy have perennially been top concerns, it is possible that education could take the number one spot in New Jersey in the next few decades if little continues to be done for the state’s educational system.

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Do I Like You, or Do I Know You? The Question of Republicans in 2016

By Robert Cartmell

Robert Cartmell is a Data Visualization Intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a junior at Rutgers University.

It is widely speculated that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, but when it comes to the Republicans, no one is completely sure who will come through the primaries to challenge Hillary in the general election. Three of the most frequently talked about candidates are former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and New Jersey’s own Governor Chris Christie. The three governors all have different strengths, weaknesses, and ideas on key issues, but one way to attempt to identify a frontrunner is to look at their personal ratings. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll asked New Jersey voters for their impressions of each of these political figures.

At this stage in the presidential game, these three Republican figures are probably most concerned with how they perform among the GOP base. In New Jersey, 73 percent of Republican voters say they are favorable towards Chris Christie; 50 percent of Republicans say the same about Jeb Bush, and 33 percent say it about Scott Walker. Christie appears to have a clear lead in ratings within his own state, but favorability is only half the story. Christie and Bush both have a notable number of Republican voters who feel unfavorably towards them as well – 20 percent for Christie and 24 percent for Bush. Just 5 percent express this kind of negativity for Scott Walker; while he is shown the least favorability, he also garners the least disdain, probably because he is the least know among New Jerseyans.

As for other partisans in the Garden State, majorities of Democrats (70 percent) and independents (55 percent) are unfavorable towards Christie. Bush fairs better among both of these groups; 51 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Independents are unfavorable towards him. While Walker has low unfavorable numbers among these groups, at least six in ten Democrats and independents do not know who he is or have no opinion of him.

For the Republicans in 2016, there still appears to be no clear front-runner yet. We will see whether the nominee turns out to be someone who is seen as more favorable, the most unknown at this point, or the candidate who is somewhere in between. Only time – and a whole lot of campaigning – will tell.

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Filed under 2016 President, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker

A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Voting for a Woman in the Oval Office: What Difference Does Age Make?

By Liz Kantor and Sonni Waknin

Elizabeth Kantor, a junior at Rutgers University, is the Lead Data Archivist and a methodological intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. Sonni Waknin, a sophomore at Rutgers University, is an archiving and general research intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

As we reported last month, the most recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll showed that New Jersey voters think the country is ready for a woman president, and in a series of hypothetical matchups, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in particular, easily beats any of her potential Republican opponents – including Governor Christie himself. Although the United States has never elected a woman president, eight in ten New Jersey registered voters believe the country is ready for one; just 15 percent feel the opposite, and four percent are unsure.

And this overwhelming belief does not differ across age groups. From young to old, New Jerseyans across the board see the country as ready for a woman in the Oval Office. There are no statistically significant differences between millennial, middle aged, and senior voters.

But voters of different ages in the Garden State do not all think alike when it comes to their own personal preferences. While, overall, voters are split down the middle about personally hoping for a woman president in their lifetime, nearly six in ten millennial voters hope for such a milestone. But this personal desire decreases with age. Half of those 40 to 64 years old, and just over four in ten senior citizen voters, say the same.

With Clinton’s potential presidential bid, the difference between those who believe the U.S. is ready to have a woman president and those who personally hope to elect one is noteworthy. Younger citizens seemingly have a vested personal interest in seeing a woman elected president more than any other age group. This difference might be attributable to the fact that millennials have come of age in a society that more openly advocates for gender equality, making them more comfortable and invested in electing a woman as president. Though younger voters are generally less likely to turn out, perhaps increased hope for a woman president will lead younger New Jerseyans to vote at a higher rate on Election Day in 2016 if Hillary Clinton does in fact run.

Garden state voters of all ages furthermore seem to be on Clinton’s side when it comes to prospective 2016 matchups. New Jersey voters across the board would vote for Clinton over their own governor, Chris Christie, 58 percent to 35 percent, if the election for president were held today. While the personal desire for a woman president does vary with age, support for Clinton within New Jersey does not.  Apparently when the abstract is made specific in reference to Clinton, voters focus on her rather than the general idea of a woman president.

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STRONG SUPPORT FOR “AID IN DYING” BILL

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

STRONG SUPPORT FOR “AID IN DYING” BILL
ASSISTED SUICIDE “MORALLY ACCEPTABLE,” RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL FINDS

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As the “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” awaits a vote in the state Senate, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of New Jerseyans support the measure, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. The bill, which allows terminally ill patients to obtain prescription drugs to end their lives and was passed by the state Assembly in November, is opposed by 29 percent of residents. Eight percent have no opinion.

Furthermore, regardless of their personal feelings on the legality of assisted suicide, 63 percent believe that ending one’s own life is morally acceptable for the terminally ill. Thirty-two percent consider such a measure morally unacceptable.

While Gov. Chris Christie has expressed “grave concerns” over the bill, 58 percent of Republicans, as well as 64 percent of both Democrats and independents, favor the proposed legislation.

“This is not really a partisan issue in New Jersey,” said Ashley Koning, manager of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. “Though a difficult subject for many, the issue has widespread support and acceptance here. Public opinion is mainly on the bill’s side.”

Sixty-three percent also say that if they had a life-threatening illness, they would rather relieve pain and discomfort, even if it meant not living as long, while 29 percent would choose the alternative – living a longer life even if it meant more pain. When the poll last explored the subject in 2000, 70 percent of residents sided with the former and 20 percent with the latter.

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, with a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in both English and, when requested, Spanish.

Differences by religious devotion, not denomination, spur opposition

While New Jerseyans generally support the “Aid in Dying” bill and express both moral acceptance of and personal agreement with the idea of self-determination, religion is a significant factor among dissenters. It is not so much one’s particular denomination – more than six in 10 Catholics, Protestants and other denominations support the bill and find the issue morally acceptable – but rather the frequency with which residents practice their religion.

The most devout are the strongest opponents: half of residents who attend religious services at least weekly oppose the bill, while 40 percent support it. Views reverse among those who attend religious services less frequently: among those who attend services once to a few times a month, 59 percent are in favor of the bill, while 73 percent of those who seldom or never attend religious services support it. “Born again” or evangelical Christians are also less likely to support the bill than others; 52 percent favor the proposed legislation and 41 percent oppose it.

Patterns are similar for moral acceptance. Fifty-seven percent of the most devout say ending one’s own life due to terminal illness is morally wrong, but 57 percent who attend religious services less frequently and 76 percent who seldom or never attend say the act is morally acceptable. Half of born again Christians believe the act to be morally wrong. Forty-one percent feel the opposite.

If personally faced with a terminal illness, a majority of New Jerseyans of all denominations and levels of religiosity would prefer to relieve pain and discomfort, even if that meant shortening their life – though to varying degrees. Catholics (64 percent) and other non-Protestant residents (59 percent) are slightly less likely than Protestants (73 percent) to prefer less pain if diagnosed with a life-threatening illness if the tradeoff meant a shorter life. Those who seldom or never attend religious services are eight points more likely than those who attend to prefer reduced pain and discomfort despite possible life-shortening consequences.

Bill support, moral acceptance, and personal choice intertwined

Views on the legality, acceptance and personal preference of ending life if terminally ill are related. Those who believe taking such action is morally wrong are overwhelmingly against the bill – 76 percent oppose, 20 percent support. New Jerseyans who find the act morally acceptable feel just the opposite, with even greater intensity: 89 percent are in favor, versus just 6 percent who oppose. Residents who would endure pain and discomfort to prolong life if faced with a similar situation are much less likely than those who would ease pain to support the bill (52 percent versus 69 percent).

Likewise, 88 percent of bill supporters find the act of taking one’s own life due to terminal illness morally acceptable, and 69 percent of this group would relieve pain and discomfort even if it meant a shorter life. Among bill opponents, 84 percent say the act is morally wrong. However, they still opt to relieve pain instead of extend life by a 53 percent to 41 percent margin. Those who find the act morally wrong are more split on the subject – 45 percent would extend life and 51 percent would relieve pain – while 69 percent of those who say it is morally acceptable would do the latter.

“The evidence is clear that while most New Jerseyans support the ‘Aid in Dying’ bill in New Jersey, personal religious and moral grounds drive those who oppose it,” noted Koning. “The more deep-seated one’s moral views and practices, the more they are against the idea.”

Other key demographics contribute to differences

While religion is a driving factor, other group differences do exist, many of which may be related to differences in religiosity across groups. Nonwhite residents are less likely to support the bill; a plurality of 49 percent do so, compared to 72 percent of white residents. Forty-nine percent of nonwhite residents say ending life if terminally ill is morally acceptable, while 44 percent say it is wrong. Seventy-two percent of whites, on the other hand, say it is morally acceptable, while 24 percent say the opposite. Nonwhite residents are 10 points less likely than white residents to say they would prefer to relieve pain even if it meant not living as long, 57 percent versus 67 percent.

Support for the bill, moral acceptance, and personal preference on the issue increase with income and education.

Just over half of conservatives oppose the bill and think ending life is morally wrong – though six in 10 would still relieve pain at the risk of shortening life if faced with a similar situation.

While there is little difference by age on the bill or on moral acceptance, desire to relieve pain, even if it would shorten life, is preferred more as residents grow older. Three-quarters of senior citizens would choose this option, compared to just over half of those under 30.

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New Jerseyans Support Appointment of Emergency Manager for Atlantic City

We turn today to beleaguered Atlantic City today. We asked a few questions about the appointment of an emergency manager announced by Gov. Christie last month.  While some political players have criticized the move, it turns out that the New Jersey public is in sync with the governor on this one. Nearly 60 percent favor the move, while 35 percent oppose it.

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

 

ATLANTIC CITY FUTURE LOOKS DIM ALTHOUGH NEW JERSEYANS AGREE
STATE NEEDS TO SUPPLY HELP

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Despite backlash from state and city officials, and credit rating agencies, 57 percent of New Jerseyans – a solid majority – agree with last month’s appointment of an emergency management team to assist in solving Atlantic City’s financial issues. Thirty-five percent think Atlantic City should be left to handle these issues on its own, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Seven percent remain unsure.
Support for the decision remains high, regardless if the decision was said to have been made by “Gov. Chris Christie,” the main target of criticism for doing so, or by the “New Jersey government,” the poll finds.

Even with the appointment of the emergency manager, respondents believe Atlantic City’s future remains bleak. Sixty-three percent say the resort town’s best days are behind it, while just 25 percent believe they are yet to come – virtually unchanged since an October 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Moreover, just 38 percent of New Jerseyans report having visited the resort town in the past 12 months, down slightly from the 43 percent who had done so in the October poll.

“Despite supporting the appointment of the emergency manager, New Jerseyans remain skeptical about Atlantic City’s future,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “This is one recent decision by Gov. Christie that has a solid majority of residents behind it.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, with a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in both English and, when requested, Spanish.

Interest highest among those with Atlantic City connections

While Atlantic City’s financial crisis has been widely reported in the state, residents do not appear to be paying much attention. Just 11 percent say they have heard a lot about the emergency management team put in place, 27 percent say they have heard some, 28 percent say a little, and 34 percent say nothing at all.

Attention paid seems to influence responses. New Jerseyans most familiar with the story are least likely to support Christie’s action: 56 percent agree, while 43 percent say Atlantic City should handle things on its own. Those who have heard little about the issue are most likely to agree with the state sending in an emergency management team (at 62 percent).

Shore residents are slightly more likely than others to have heard a lot (15 percent). Urbanites are the least likely to have heard anything; 47 percent say they have heard nothing at all. Visitors to the resort city within the past year are also more likely to be paying attention compared to those who have not.

Broad support for Christie order

Christie’s executive order temporarily implementing an emergency manager in Atlantic City receives high support across most demographic groups, even those who otherwise are negative about the governor. The decision cuts across political partisanship: 61 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents and 59 percent of Republicans agree with Christie’s course of action.

Millennials – residents under 30 – tend to be stronger supporters than those 65 or older, 67 percent to 53 percent. Similarly, residents with household incomes under $100,000 are stronger backers than wealthier respondents, 63 percent to 52 percent.

Support for Christie’s action does not raise a significant gender gap. Fifty-five percent of men and 60 percent of women favor the move. Also, while still majorities, fewer suburbanites (51 percent) and exurbanites (54 percent) support the appointment of an emergency management team. More than 60 percent of New Jerseyans from all other regions approve of the action.

Those who are more optimistic about Atlantic City’s future are more likely to support the state stepping in to help. Three-quarters of those who believe the resort town’s best days are yet to come support the state’s decision to help compared to about half of those who think the city’s best days are behind it. Both Christie supporters and detractors approve the action, at 60 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
Recent Atlantic City visitors are also more likely to support the emergency management team than those who have not visited within a year, 68 percent to 51 percent.

“Two schools of thought seem to be developing about Atlantic City,” said Redlawsk. “Those who have recently visited and those who see a brighter future want to see the state help make things better. But those who already have written off the city are much less likely to see state action as worthwhile.”
Atlantic City’s future looks dim to most

With few exceptions, New Jerseyans across the board believe Atlantic City’s best days are behind it. Those who have heard little or nothing about the emergency management team hired to help fix Atlantic City’s financial crisis look slightly more favorably upon the destination’s future. But residents who are better informed of the move see the city’s best days in the past (at 69 percent).

By a 33 percent to 13 percent margin, supporters of Christie’s decision are more likely than detractors to see a brighter future for the resort. A majority from both groups still sees the town’s best days mostly in the past. Even recent visitors share similarly bleak opinions with their counterparts; 29 percent say bright days are ahead, compared to 22 percent of those who have not visited in the last year.

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OPPOSITION TO A GAS TAX INCREASE PERSISTS

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

GAS TAX HIKE STILL OPPOSED BY NEW JERSEYANS

Recent low prices spur more travel, spending

 

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As state lawmakers struggle to return the virtually bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund to solvency, 54 percent of New Jerseyans continue to oppose a gas tax increase while 42 show support, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Two versions of the question were put to residents, with results virtually unchanged since December 2014.

However, many of the strongest opponents – especially Republicans and men – have a change of heart upon learning the state’s gas tax is the nation’s third lowest and has not been raised in decades. Given that context, 44 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of men support a hike. Without context, 29 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of men favor an increase.

“Across all residents, adding context raises support from 39 percent to only 44 percent,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “But, that the added information has a positive effect on the strongest opponents, might provide opportunity for political leaders trying to solve the problem of paying for transportation infrastructure maintenance. A majority remains opposed, but opposition might be softer than it seems if enough context is provided.”

While prices at the pump have recently ticked up after months of decline, New Jerseyans seem to be capitalizing on the savings; half say they have been more likely to travel by car for a weekend getaway or vacation. Also, 52 percent of respondents say they have been able to spend household money elsewhere with savings at the pump.

Unsurprisingly, lower gas prices have not had a positive effect on mass transit use or carpooling. Almost 50 percent of those polled say their mass transit use has not changed and 41 percent say it actually has declined. As for carpooling, while 43 percent say they are just as likely to carpool now, another 39 percent say they have been less likely to do so given cheaper gas. But New Jerseyans say that if the gas tax were raised, they would change some of these behaviors. Just over 20 percent would be more likely to use mass transit or carpool, and 35 percent would cut back on car trips. Forty percent would be less likely to spend household money on other things.

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, with a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in both English and, when requested, Spanish.

Democrats stronger supporters of a hike

While less than a majority of New Jerseyans support a gas tax increase, some groups are stronger opponents. Across both versions of the question, Republicans are squarely against an increase, 62 percent to 36 percent. Among independents, 54 percent oppose a hike compared with 41 percent in favor. As with most tax issues, Democrats show more support with 47 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

Transportation modes also influence support. Those less likely to use mass transit or carpool given lower gas prices are more likely to oppose a hike. Daily (or near-daily) drivers also are more likely to oppose paying more: 56 percent, compared with 47 percent of less frequent motorists.

Support for an increased gas tax grows with age and income; a majority of senior citizens (51 percent) and those with household incomes of $150,000 or more (56 percent) favor a higher tax. Fifty-one percent of liberals also support a higher tax. No other major demographic groups show majority support.

Additional information matters

To test the effects of additional information, respondents were randomly given one of two versions of the question. One lacked specific context, the other added that New Jersey’s gas tax “the third lowest in the nation and has not been raised in twenty years.” While making only a non-significant five-point difference across all respondents, the question variation makes a large difference with some groups.

While nearly leveling support among Republicans, independents and Democrats, the context concerning New Jersey’s current gas tax increases support from both daily and less frequent drivers. Opposition from daily drivers declines to 53 percent from 58 percent, while support grows from 38 percent to 44 percent. Support from less frequent drives climbs from 42 percent to 50 percent.

Even among residents who rate local road conditions as only fair to poor, there is limited support for an increased gas tax without context. Told about the relative cheapness of the New Jersey tax, support rises from 37 percent to 48 percent.

Grades for local roads, highways hold steady

Residents remain unconvinced about the low quality of New Jersey roads and bridges despite some objective measures to the contrary. Half say that state roads, excluding the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, which are funded by tolls, are in either good (42 percent) or excellent (7 percent) shape. Another 38 percent see state roads as in only fair condition and 11 percent think they are in poor shape. These results mirror those from a December 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Opinions on local roads are more negative: 4 percent say they are excellent and 29 percent call them good. Thirty-six percent says local road conditions are fair, and 31 percent, poor.

“Even with political leaders’ efforts to show New Jerseyans the extent of the transportation infrastructure problem, many residents seem to have little problem with the roads they drive,” noted Redlawsk. “This could be one of the keys to why resistance to a gas tax increase continues.”

How a gas tax hike might affect transportation, spending behavior

While New Jerseyans appear to have changed behaviors in light of lower gas prices in recent months, some groups have changed more than others. White and nonwhite residents differ sharply. As gas prices dropped, nonwhites say they were less likely to use mass transit or carpool, while white respondents report no change. Nonwhite respondents also are nine points more likely than whites to be taking car trips or spending money on other things due to the decline in gas prices.

Behaviors also differ by age: 55 percent of those under 30 say they are now more likely to take a weekend car trip, compared to 37 percent of senior citizens. And despite the decline in the cost of driving, 24 percent of the youngest New Jerseyans report increasing their use of carpools, compared to 9 percent of seniors. Younger people are also more likely to have increased spending on other items: 60 percent versus 47 percent of those 65 and over.

Women are much more economical than men when it comes to spending saved gas money elsewhere: 58 percent of men are more likely to do so, compared to 47 percent of women. Nineteen percent of women are actually less likely to do so recently, compared to 11 percent of men.

These patterns flip when respondents are asked what changes they would make if the gas tax were raised. Nonwhite residents are more than twice as likely as white residents to say they would use mass transit or carpool more and take car trips less often. Almost half of nonwhites say they would be less likely to spend money elsewhere, compared to just over half of whites who say little would change in their spending habits.

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NEW JERSEY VOTERS QUESTION IF CHRISTIE HAS WHAT IT TAKES FOR 2016

As promised, here is the third release related to Chris Christie and 2016. Last week we talked about his overall ratings as governor, and yesterday we looked at Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, finding she would currently trounce Christie in NJ. Today we look specifically at the governor as a presidential candidate.

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

A ‘BULLY’ FOR PRESIDENT?
NEW JERSEY VOTERS QUESTION IF CHRISTIE HAS WHAT IT TAKES FOR 2016

Two-thirds of Rutgers-Eagleton Poll respondents say governor puts 2016 ahead of New Jersey

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Gov. Chris Christie prepares for a 2016 presidential run in the midst of declining ratings at home, 59 percent of New Jersey voters say he would not make a good president, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 34 percent believe Christie would do well in the Oval Office.

Perceptions of Christie’s attitude and behavior haunt his chances for 2016, according to voters here. Asked to best describe the governor in a single word, voters respond with “bully,” “arrogant,” “selfish,” “aggressive,” and “bad” at the top of the list. But there also are positives further down in the top 10, such as “good,” “honest,” “strong,” “tough” and “ambitious.”

Voters’ views on a Christie presidency are also shaped by perceptions that the governor is lacking in qualifications to become commander-in-chief. Thirty-seven percent say he has the right “look” to be president, 36 percent say he has the right “demeanor and personality,” and 45 percent say he has the right amount of “experience” when considered against other potential Republican contenders.

“Governor Christie’s numbers are a far cry from the very positive results we reported yesterday for Hillary Clinton,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “While voters’ views of Clinton are upbeat, the negative ratings given to Christie’s gubernatorial performance we reported last week are clearly influencing perceptions of him as a president.”

Voters in the Garden State are now more likely than ever – at 68 percent, up 13 points from December – to say Christie’s positions on issues, and his decisions on whether to sign or veto bills, are more about a potential presidential run than what is best for New Jersey. Just 22 percent feel he is putting the state first. Half of voters also say Christie’s travel schedule hurts his ability to be an effective governor, while 44 percent say it does not.

Despite this, voters are evenly split on whether Christie will become the 2016 GOP nominee. Thirteen percent say this is very likely while 36 percent think it is somewhat likely. Another 49 percent think it is either somewhat unlikely (27 percent) or not at all likely (22 percent).

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, including 694 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Christie in a word? Bully

While respondents offered more than 200 one-word or one-phrase descriptions of the governor, a few words were offered repeatedly. Ten percent used the word bully and more than 7 percent said arrogant. At 4 percent, good was the most popular positive word given.

ChristieOneWordrev One word that best describes Gov. Chris Christie
(c) Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Feb 18, 2015

“Of the 20 most frequently used words, the top three – bully, arrogant and selfish – are all negative, with about 20 percent of voters using them to describe Christie,” said Redlawsk. “Good and honest follow those three, but total only 6 percent combined.”

Bully comes to mind for a sizable share of Democrats (15 percent) and independents (9 percent). Arrogant is second with both, and selfish is not far behind. But not all their top adjectives are bad news for the governor: “good” actually ranks third among Democrats.

Republicans are more varied in their responses. Honest is first (4 percent) while other positives (excellent, fair, good, strong) and some negatives (aggressive, arrogant, selfish) are each named by 3 percent. Overall, Republicans are less consistent than Democrats in the words they use.

Christie’s presidential prospects fall far short of Clinton’s

As with Christie’s gubernatorial ratings, views on a potential “President Christie” are much more positive among his base than they are among Democrats or even independents. But Christie support among the New Jersey GOP does not match the intensity with which independents and Democrats rally around Hillary Clinton.

The 72 percent of Republicans who say Christie would make a good president falls well short of the 89 percent of Democrats who say the same about Clinton. Also, only 19 percent of Democrats see Christie as a good president, but 27 percent of Republicans think this about Clinton. More importantly, just 28 percent of independents say Christie would be a good president, far from the 60 percent of this group who back Clinton in the same scenario.

Voters give Christie lukewarm scores in terms of a potential presidency, with the majority holding a negative outlook, as opposed to the exceedingly positive one they give Clinton. Even GOP intensity for their governor is not as strong as Democrats’ for Clinton. Fifty-eight percent of Republican voters say Christie has the right “look” to be president, just eight points higher than their percentage for Clinton. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats and 36 percent of independents feel the same about Christie – much lower than their thoughts on his potential Democratic opponent.

Sixty-two percent of Republican voters, 20 percent of Democrats, and 36 percent of independents say Christie has the right demeanor and personality for the top job. While GOP views are much higher in this area than they are for Clinton, independents and especially Democrats are far less positive here for Christie.

As for experience, Republican views on Christie (at 62 percent) are virtually the same as on Clinton. Three in 10 Democrats feel Christie has enough experience, while independents are more split on his credentials.

“New Jersey is more Democratic than Republican, which accounts for some of Clinton’s apparent advantage,” said Redlawsk. “But when GOP voters give Christie marks on presidential characteristics that are only marginally higher than hers, Christie has serious fence-mending to do with New Jersey voters.”

GOP grows divided over Christie’s presidential preparations

Voters have grown increasingly negative about Christie’s views, actions, and time spent out of state the last several months, believing ulterior presidential motives are behind his decisions.

Christie’s national focus has not gone unnoticed, even among his base. Republicans are now split over whether Christie’s recent words and deeds been about what is best for the Garden State or for his own presidential run. Forty-five percent of Republicans say his decision are about New Jersey, down 12 points since December. Nearly as many, 43 percent, think Christie is making decisions with his eyes on the White House, up 16 points.

Just 12 percent of Democrats believe Christie is doing what is best for New Jersey; 82 percent do not. Independents’ views of Christie’s motivations are also negative: 20 percent think he’s acting for the state versus 68 percent who say decisions are about a presidential run.

Opinions are similarly divided over how Christie’s travel schedule affects his ability to govern: 67 percent of Republicans say his frequent trips have no effect (down seven points), but 52 percent of independents – up 10 points, reaching a majority for the first time – and 60 percent of Democrats (up eight points) say it has hurt his ability to govern effectively.

 

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