Looking Back; and Forward

David Redlawsk was Director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling for 7 years. As of August 1, 2016, he is James R. Soles Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

As was announced last month, I am leaving Rutgers to head to the University of Delaware. This means I am also leaving the Directorship of ECPIP, home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. While ECPIP is much more than the poll, that’s what has defined us since it started in 1971. This is not surprising, since the Poll is the most public part of what we do. As one of the (if not THE) oldest academic-based state-focused survey research centers in the country, ECPIP has provided a wealth of information to the public about just what’s going on in the Garden State. As you can see on the ECPIP website, there is even an archive of Rutgers-Eagleton Polls, available to anyone interested, and going back to the very first one. Granted, the archive interface reminds one of the early 1990s web, but the data behind it are incredibly useful.

So this is my last post on our blog. We started the blog a few months after I arrived in 2009 as a way to communicate our findings to the broader public. Since that time ECPIP, under the direct efforts of first Mona Kleinberg (now at UMass Lowell) and then Ashley Koning (now ECPIP’s Interim Director) ECPIP has branched out into social media on Twitter and Facebook, and this blog has become mostly a place where press releases are posted.  But I think it has served a useful purpose.

As I sign off from ECPIP, I have to thank Mona and Ashley and so many other graduate and undergraduate students who have been the backbone of the poll, and of whom we’ve all been so proud as they played a key role in keeping us going. While there are too many to name here, the current staff can be seen at the ECPIP website. I also have to thanks Bill Valocchi, who served as our Field Manager for several years and organized the call center, and Debbie Borie-Holtz, who continues as ECPIP’s special projects manager. Both were critical to whatever success we have had. And a special mention to now Rutgers graduate, and NORC staff member, Liz Kantor, who as an undergraduate became our statistician, among many other roles.

I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to lead ECPIP and the support from Ruth Mandel, the Eagleton Institute’s Director, and John Weingart, Associate Director for the Institute. Coming to Eagleton was a special privilege since it also was a return to the University and Department where I had completed my Ph.D.

We had our ups and downs over the past seven years, but who hasn’t? I like to think that our team revived the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in very challenging times and again positioned it as an important source for New Jersey and the nation in understanding what’s going on in this interesting state. Perhaps I am lucky that my time has overlapped the two terms of Chris Christie, which meant we never ran out of things to study and interest in what we had to say was often very high.

In any case, while I had not anticipated leaving after only 7 years, the possibility of leading an academic department has always interested me. Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware is a vibrant department with a group of scholar/teachers engaged in fascinating research and top-notch teaching. I am looking forward to joining them, though the transition is bittersweet as I leave Rutgers.

To those of you who have read our blog, or our press releases, or anything else we’ve done over the last 7 years, I say thanks. And I also say that in many ways the best is yet to come for ECPIP. I am thrilled that Ashley Koning is taking the helm; she will build the center in new ways that recognize the many changes happening in survey research and public polling. It should be an exciting time for ECPIP even as it is an exciting time for me as I get ready to move to the First State.

Leave a comment

Filed under Rutgers-Eagleton Poll

Exciting News from ECPIP!

Leadership Change at Rutgers-Eagleton Polling Unit: Redlawsk to Head Department at U. of Delaware; Koning Takes Reins

Click here for PDF.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, which produces the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, will be in new—but familiar—hands as of July 1, 2016.

Ashley Koning, currently assistant director of the Center for Public Interest Polling, will take over as interim director of ECPIP when Professor David P. Redlawsk, director for the last seven years, leaves Rutgers to become the James R. Soles Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

A Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers with concentrations in American politics, women and politics, and methodology, Koning served as acting director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll while Redlawsk was on leave in 2015.

Koning is a rising scholar in the field and has co-authored multiple book chapters and papers on public opinion, issue framing, and survey experiments. Book chapters include: an analysis of public opinion during and after Superstorm Sandy and its implications for NJ Gov. Chris Christie in the new Rutgers University Press book, “Taking Chances: The Coast after Hurricane Sandy,” edited by Karen M. O’Neill and Daniel J. Van Abs, as well as a longitudinal study of Gov. Christie’s leadership and legacy in “The American Governor: Power, Constraint, and Leadership in The States,” edited by David P. Redlawsk.

Koning has served for several years on councils for both the New York and Pennsylvania-New Jersey chapters of AAPOR (the American Association for Public Opinion Research) and on the national AAPOR membership and chapter relations committee, as well as both the AAPOR and AASRO communications committees. She was awarded the 2015 John Tarnai Memorial Scholarship by the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (AASRO) and has been the recipient of the AAPOR Student Travel Award, the first-ever AAPOR Student Poster Award, and the 2016 Burns “Bud” Roper Fellow Award. A Martinsville, NJ native, Koning earned her master’s in political science from Columbia University and a BA in government and music from Franklin and Marshall College. She now resides in Morristown.

Cliff Zukin, professor of public policy and political science at the Edward J. Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy and at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, will serve as a senior advisor to the Center. Zukin is a former director of the Center and former president of AAPOR.

Koning said, “I am honored to be at the helm of such a prestigious operation that prides itself on a 45-year history of integrity, quality, and objectivity in survey research, and to follow in the footsteps of past directors, who are among some of the most preeminent experts in the field. I look forward to building the center’s future.”

Redlawsk commented, “I have been privileged to work with my colleagues at Eagleton as we investigated New Jerseyans’ opinions on politics and policy. It has been a fascinating time to be part of Eagleton, and I will miss it.”

The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP), home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, was established in 1971. Now celebrating its 45th anniversary and over 200 public opinion polls on the state of New Jersey, ECPIP is the oldest and one of the most respected university-based state survey research centers in the United States.

ECPIP’s mission is to provide scientifically sound, non-partisan information about public opinion. ECPIP conducts research for all levels of government and nonprofit organizations with a public interest mission, as well as college and university-based researchers and staff. ECPIP makes it a priority to design opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to learn how to read, analyze, design, and administer polls. To read more about ECPIP and view all of our press releases and published research, please visit our website: eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu. You can also visit ECPIP’s extensive data archive, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

1 Comment

Filed under Rutgers-Eagleton Poll

Latest Numbers on Christie, Booker, and Menendez …

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


Menendez and especially Booker garner better ratings than Gov.; six in ten still believe New Jersey is off on the wrong track 

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Gov. Chris Christie’s top pick for president continues to climb in the polls, the governor’s own ratings have dropped to their lowest yet, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 26 percent of New Jersey registered voters now have a favorable opinion of Christie – down three points since February. Sixty-four percent are unfavorable toward the governor, up five points since February and now at its highest point yet since Christie first took office.

Christie’s favorability continues to drop among his own party base: 56 percent of Republicans feel favorable toward the governor, a seven-point decline since last polled two months earlier, while 34 percent say they are unfavorable. Independents and Democrats continue to be mostly unfavorable, at 63 percent and 87 percent, respectively.

Voters are kinder in their ratings to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez than they are to Christie, even in the face of Menendez’s ongoing federal indictment: while only 29 percent are favorable toward the senior senator, just 32 percent are outright unfavorable, and 39 percent have no opinion. Not even Republicans reach a majority in their opposition to Menendez, a stark contrast to the nine in 10 Democrats who feel the same about Christie.

Voters are most positive toward U.S. Sen. Cory Booker: 48 percent are favorable, 23 percent are unfavorable, and another 30 percent have no opinion. Sixty-four percent of Democrats, 47 percent of independents, and even 26 percent of Republicans like Booker.

“Among the New Jersey politicians we poll, Governor Christie continues to generate the most negativity among voters, even more so than the state’s currently indicted senator,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University. “Not even Christie’s backing of Donald Trump has helped him with New Jersey Republicans, who give Trump higher ratings than Christie and are now more likely than ever to vote for Trump come June.”

When voters are asked to justify their ratings on the governor, favorable and unfavorable voters alike point to Christie’s character, his overall job as governor, and his honesty (or lack thereof). Among those favorable, 35 percent like him because of the overall job he is doing, 16 percent mention something about him being honest and trustworthy, 13 percent point to his character and attitude, and 11 percent reference his policy decisions.

Among those unfavorable toward him, 15 percent point to his character, personality, or attitude as the main reason behind their negative rating; another 7 percent specifically say something about his confrontational, bully-like persona. An additional 15 percent cite Christie’s overall job as governor and governing style. Fourteen percent say he is dishonest and untrustworthy. Other negative reasons include his lack of care for New Jersey (9 percent), his handling of education in general and teachers specifically (8 percent), his policy decisions and actions (7 percent), his ineffectiveness (6 percent), and his handling of unions and state workers (4 percent). Just 3 percent mention something about his support for Donald Trump as a reason for their unfavorable rating, as do another 3 percent about Christie’s role in the 2016 presidential election, in general.

“Negativity toward Christie continues to grow, but not entirely because of his support for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump or his own involvement with the 2016 election cycle,” said Koning. “Instead, Christie’s unpopularity stems from the same longstanding reasons that voters have cited in both their praise and condemnation of him throughout his tenure – reasons that disenchanted voters emphasize now more than ever two months after Christie’s return to governing full time.”

Christie’s overall job approval has likewise taken a hit: 31 percent approve (down six points) to 63 percent disapprove (up three points). Christie fares no better on a variety of individual issues. The governor falls to new lows on Superstorm Sandy recovery (43 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove) and education (31 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove). He continues to do worst on fiscal issues like the state pension fund situation (18 percent approve, 62 percent disapprove), the state budget (26 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove), and taxes (26 percent approve, 64 percent disapprove). Christie also fares poorly when it comes to transportation and infrastructure (28 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove) and the economy and jobs (31 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove). Voters are split on how Christie is handling crime and drugs (41 percent approve, 42 percent disapprove).

As with their views of the governor, voters remain mostly negative about the state’s overall direction: 31 percent continue to believe New Jersey is headed in the right direction, while 60 percent say the state has gone off on the wrong track. About six in 10 voters have consistently said the state is off on the wrong track since April 2015.

Taxes persist as the most important problem in New Jersey (now at 26 percent), consistently taking the top spot over the economy and jobs since October 2014.

Results are from a statewide poll of 886 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from April 1 to 8, 2016, including 738 registered voters reported on in this release. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

More on Trump in the Garden State … How Does He Make Voters Feel, and Why?

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


Over half say Trump goes too far with some statements

Note: This Rutgers-Eagleton Poll overlapped the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, April 5.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Donald Trump may be the GOP frontrunner in New Jersey, but the real estate mogul provokes some strong negative reactions from many registered voters in the Garden State, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

In particular, 61 percent of voters say Trump makes them feel angry because of “the kind of person he is or something he has done,” while 57 percent say he makes them feel afraid. Nearly half – 45 percent – feel contemptuous when they think of Trump. On the positive side, just 37 percent say Trump makes them feel hopeful and 34 percent, enthusiastic.

Positive and negative feelings toward Trump are clearly related to overall favorability toward the businessman; 30 percent of voters have a favorable impression, while 62 percent feel unfavorable. Given a chance to explain their assessments, Trump’s supporters and detractors alike make statements about the kind of person Trump is and his beliefs as key reasons.

Among those voters who are favorable toward him, 19 percent like Trump because of his policy positions, 18 percent because he is a political outsider, and 10 percent because they believe he is a good businessman. Among his detractors, 31 percent mention something about his character, personality, or attitude, and 11 percent say their dislike stems from his policy positions and beliefs; another 9 percent are unfavorable because they believe Trump to be racist.

“Politics is very much about emotions,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Even so, the intensity of emotional responses to Donald Trump may be unique for a frontrunner. That nearly half of all voters feel contempt when considering him is astounding, and is no doubt driven by his own contemptuous rhetoric.”

Over half of voters (55 percent) say Trump generally goes too far in some of the things he says; but three in 10 believe he is simply saying out loud what other people are already thinking. Just over one in 10 think it is a little of both.

Results are from a statewide poll of 886 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from April 1 to 8, 2016, including 738 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Trump provokes emotional extremes

Support – or lack thereof – for Trump affects feelings toward the GOP frontrunner. Republicans are by far the most hopeful (72 percent) and enthusiastic (63 percent) about the entrepreneur; but still a third of GOP members feel anger, fear, or contempt when thinking about him. Democrats, of course, show the opposite responses: 81 percent say Trump makes them feel angry, 76 percent afraid, and 59 percent contempt.

Independents, whom many think hold the key to any general election, are more like Democrats than Republicans in their emotional reactions to Trump. While more hopeful (39 percent) and enthusiastic (35 percent) about him than Democrats, the large majority does not express positive emotions; 59 percent feel anger and 56 percent feel fear as a response to the GOP frontrunner. Contempt is felt by 43 percent of independent voters.

While voters of both genders have mostly negative feelings toward Trump, women are more likely than men to feel negative emotions toward him; men are more likely than women to feel positive ones.

“Even as New Jersey GOP voters continue overwhelmingly to choose Trump as their 2016 nominee, he is far from popular statewide,” said Ashley Koning, ECPIP assistant director. “More than any other 2016 candidate, Trump provokes anger and fear for a lot of voters, including many within the GOP and most outside the party. These feelings will act as political motivators that are likely to hurt Trump’s chances in the general election this November, especially among the independents he would need in New Jersey.”

Emotions toward other candidates less intense

The other 2016 candidates pale in comparison to Trump when it comes to igniting strong feelings from voters. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz provokes little emotion in either direction. About a third of NJ voters feel anger, fear, or contempt toward him. Cruz inspires even less hope and enthusiasm than Trump – at 23 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Not even a majority of his own party base feels hopeful or enthusiastic about him, nor are his detractors especially negative toward him.

On the Democratic side, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton receives the most anger from voters, but falls far short of Trump’s numbers: 48 percent say she has made them angry. Thirty-five percent feel afraid about Clinton, and 39 percent feel contempt. Of course, Clinton especially sparks negative feelings among Republicans: 77 percent say Clinton makes them feel angry, 56 percent afraid, and 60 percent contempt. Even 53 percent of independents feel angry thinking about Clinton. Similarly, men, more than women, express anger (56 percent versus 41 percent) and contempt (45 percent versus 34 percent) about Clinton. Democrats are the most positive about Clinton; 70 percent say Clinton makes them feel hopeful, and 60 percent say she makes them enthusiastic.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders provokes much more hope (53 percent) and enthusiasm (43 percent) than Clinton among voters overall (39 percent and 32 percent, respectively) but only slightly more than his competitor among the Democratic Party base (76 percent feel hopeful, 62 percent enthusiastic). Sanders even makes more than half of independents hopeful, while inspiring limited negative feelings among Republicans.

Those angry with or afraid of Trump on the Republican side are much more likely to want Ohio Gov. John Kasich as their nominee, while those on the Democratic side who feel this way are torn between Clinton and Sanders. Republicans who are angry with or afraid of Clinton overwhelmingly want Trump to get the nomination, while angered Democrats choose Sanders.

Why (or why not) Trump?

Love him or hate him, Trump’s policy positions and personality loom large when voters explain their views; his stances and beliefs take the top spot among those favorable toward him and the second spot among those unfavorable. But Trump’s supporters and detractors have distinctive reasons for their feelings toward the candidate.

Those favorable toward Trump are “tired of political correctness” and want to “shake up the system.” “He brings up topics no one else wants to talk about […], issues […] we need to deal with as a nation, like immigration and trade,” voters explained. Others like him because he is “not beholden to anybody in Washington,” he “speaks straight from the heart” “in a way [they] can understand,” and as a “successful businessman,” he “knows how to use a dollar.”

Besides his policies, anti-establishment persona, and business acumen, those who like Trump cite his “tell it like it is” attitude (9 percent), his honesty (8 percent), ability to bring about change (7 percent), overall character (7 percent), and how he will “make America great again” (5 percent). Trump’s policy positions are the number one factor among Republicans who like him, while his outsider status ranks highest among his independent supporters.

Most voters who oppose Trump do so because of his character; as one voter puts it, he is “all ego and no substance.” To a lesser extent, they mention his issue positions and beliefs, including his “lack of consistency” on them and his inability to “defin[e] clear, intelligent policies.” A number call him racist (9 percent) and mention his outspoken nature (7 percent) as reasons for their dislike. “He speaks without thinking,” said one voter.

Voters also say he is unqualified (7 percent), dishonest (6 percent), and an entertainer who is inexperienced in politics (5 percent). Another 3 percent each say their disapproval stems from a belief that he will ruin the county and that he is sexist.

“He is conducting a campaign like it is a reality TV program,” a voter explained. “[It is] difficult to take him seriously. I feel his positions are more for the purpose of gaining votes than anything else,” another stated. Fear of Trump in voters’ reasons is evident: one called Trump “unpredictable and scary,” while another believed Trump would “get us into a war.”

Telling it like it is?

Typical Trump supporters are more likely to believe he is simply saying out loud what others are thinking, while those against the GOP frontrunner believe he goes too far in what he says on the campaign trail. Democrats (at 69 percent) overwhelmingly feel Trump goes too far, as do over half of independents. Republicans are more supportive of their candidate: 46 percent of this group believes Trump is simply saying out loud what others are thinking, while 38 percent feel he goes too far.

While men and women both think Trump goes too far with his rhetoric, women are much more likely to feel this way than men (61 percent versus 48 percent); men are somewhat more divided (38 percent believe he is just saying out loud what others think, compared to 25 percent of women). White and non-white voters also similarly believe Trump goes a step too far (at 56 percent and 54 percent, respectively).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Inaugural Rutgers-Eagleton/New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute “Health Matters” Poll: Recognizing National Health Care Decisions Day in NJ with Some Polling on End of Life Care

The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP), home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, is excited to announce its first collaboration with the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI) – a poll on end-of-life care preparation and awareness prior to National Health Care Decisions Day this Saturday, April 16.

Much like some of NJHCQI’s past polling, we once again see that New Jerseyans are thinking and talking about end-of-life plans, but they continue to take little action on them.  Few have written their preferences down somewhere, and few know about the variety of options available for end-of-life care and treatment. We of course see some important demographic differences in preparation and awareness – age being the biggest factor – but these latest results show us that there is still much educating to be done among the entire public on this issue.

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


 Limited awareness of advance care planning documents, palliative care; more widespread knowledge of hospice

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – In advance of National Health Care Decisions Day on April 16, more than six in 10 New Jerseyans say they are mostly comfortable with getting older and have even thought about and discussed their wishes for medical treatment near the end of their life. What residents are actually doing to prepare for this moment, and how familiar they are with important end-of-life care options, is another story, however.

In the inaugural Rutgers-Eagleton/New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute Health Matters Poll, 61 percent of New Jerseyans say they are comfortable thinking about the idea of getting older; 19 percent are not comfortable with it but still think about it, and 17 percent would rather not think about it at all.

A similarly solid majority has thought about their wishes for end-of-life care (33 percent have given some thought, another 33 percent a great deal), and 62 percent have had a conversation with someone about it in the event they become terminally ill or are suffering from a great deal of pain.

But six in 10 New Jerseyans have not put their wishes in writing. And while most residents (78 percent) are familiar with hospice care and half (50 percent) know of the New Jersey State Advance Directive, far fewer recognize other crucial end-of-life care options like palliative care (45 percent), the living will advance directive “Five Wishes” (24 percent), or the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form known as POLST (27 percent).

“People care and think about end-of-life plans, but they are not taking action and are mostly unaware of what opportunities are available,” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “This issue is critical to New Jersey, a state where people are more likely to die in a health care facility and less likely to use hospice services than residents of almost any other state. New Jersey has among the highest use of medical interventions in the last six months of life.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 886 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from April 1 to 8, 2016. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Age biggest factor in knowledge and action

As expected, age plays the most significant role in knowledge of and behaviors related to end-of-life care. While there are few differences among age groups in their feelings about getting older, actions like thinking about, talking about, and actually writing down plans for medical treatment in the event of terminal illness increase with age.

Those 65 years and older are more likely to have done all three: 78 percent have given it at least some thought, 80 percent have had a conversation about it with someone, and 65 percent have written their wishes down.

Senior residents also know the options available to them. Almost all know about hospice care (56 percent are very familiar, 33 percent somewhat), and a majority of this group is familiar with palliative care (28 percent very, 29 percent somewhat). Likewise, 72 percent are familiar with the New Jersey State Advance Directive. Yet even this group is unaware of Five Wishes or POLST; just three in 10 senior citizens have heard of either advance care planning document.

Large majorities of 50 to 64 year olds have also thought and talked about their own end-of-life care (74 percent and 68 percent, respectively), but just under half have actually put down anything in writing. This group echoes the most senior residents in their awareness of what options are available.

Middle-aged residents are less prepared than their elders, especially when it comes to talking about and writing down their wishes (at 55 percent and 26 percent, respectively). A majority of 30 to 49 year olds know about hospice care, but large numbers are unfamiliar with palliative care or any advance care planning documents.

End-of-life care is far from the minds of millennials. Under half have given it much thought (just 16 percent say they have thought about it a great deal) or have talked with someone about their plans (45 percent). Only 17 percent have actually written something down. Sixty-three percent of 18 to 29 year olds are at least somewhat familiar with hospice, but few know about palliative care or other options.

Race, gender, and other key demographics impact preparation and awareness

There are large racial disparities when it comes to end-of-life care. White residents are more likely than non-white residents to think about (70 percent to 61 percent) and talk about (73 percent to 46 percent) any end-of-life medical treatment plans. White residents are also more than twice as likely as non-white residents to have written something down – 49 percent to 23 percent – and are also more familiar with the various related actions and options.

As for differences by gender, women are more likely than men, by double digits, to have had a conversation with someone about their end–of-life care wishes and to be familiar with hospice and palliative care. Women are also slightly more familiar with POLST, though a majority of both genders is unaware of this document.

Marital status also has an impact: married residents have done more and know more about end-of-life care than those not currently married.

Income disparities arise with regard to talking about and writing down wishes for treatment, as well as familiarity with hospice and palliative care; those in the most affluent households are the most prepared and the most aware. Education plays a similar role.

There are even regional differences in preparation and awareness. Residents in the southern portion of the state near Philadelphia, an area that has a slightly larger portion of older residents than any other region, are more likely to have thought about, talked about, and written down end-of-life care plans, as well as to know about hospice, palliative care, and the state advance directive.

“We find a lot of demographic disparities beyond the obvious factor of age when it comes to end-of-life care preparation and awareness,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “Accumulating this type of knowledge requires experiences and resources that some groups may have better access to than others. Women are typically the caretakers of their elders, those who are married may be sharing plans with their spouse, and residents of higher socioeconomic status may have better access to information and care – all of which can lead to the differences we see here.”

Those more prepared are more familiar with options

Planning, action, and knowledge regarding end-of-life care go hand in hand. Those who say they are comfortable with getting older are more likely to have discussed and written down plans and also more likely to be familiar with advance care planning documents.

Residents who have either thought about, talked about, or written down medical treatment preferences are all more likely to have also done the remaining two – as well as more likely to be aware of hospice care, palliative care, the state advance directive, Five Wishes, and POLST.

In turn, those who have greater awareness of end-of-life care options and actions that should be taken are more likely to have already started preparing their own end-of-life care plans.

Having a “Conversation of a Lifetime”

The release of these results is in conjunction with a broader program established by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute called “Conversation of a Lifetime,” part of the Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. The program, funded by The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, aims to change the culture around end-of-life conversations and advance care planning.

As part of the program, community members in Tenafly, Princeton, and Gloucester Township have gathered in libraries, community centers, parks and places of worship to engage with one another and to listen to speakers explain how they can make sure that their wishes are followed in their final days.

“People do not have to wait for their doctors to initiate these conversations,” said Janan Dave, Director of Community Health for the Quality Institute. “‘Conversation of a Lifetime’ wants to encourage communities to promote discussion of end-of-life issues in town halls and dinner tables. Most people say they want to die at home, surrounded by loved ones, yet so many people in New Jersey actually die in a hospital. We want people to express their wishes and for those wishes to be followed – whatever those wishes may be.”


About the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is the only independent, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder advocate for health care quality in New Jersey. The Quality Institute’s mission is to undertake projects and promote system changes that ensure that quality, safety, accountability and cost-containment are closely linked to the delivery of health care services in New Jersey.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


We have been polling for quite a while now – since the 1980s, in fact – on whether or not residents would support a gas tax hike.  The times have changed, but opposition on a hike remains the same.  New Jerseyans continue to say no to a gas tax increase, and any estate tax trade-off in the name of tax fairness is not persuading residents to say otherwise.

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


Over half favor dedicating all gas tax revenue to the Transportation Trust Fund 

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The Transportation Trust Fund is running on fumes, but replenishing it through a gas tax increase remains a non-starter with New Jerseyans, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Fifty-six percent oppose a gas tax hike, virtually unchanged in the last 18 months; 42 percent support it.

This belies the fact that half of New Jerseyans feel the state is not spending enough money on road, highway and bridge maintenance.

A corresponding cut in estate and inheritance taxes, which is the aim of a bill advancing in the state Senate, does not make a gas tax hike much more appealing to residents. Thirty-seven percent (up six points since last October) would be more likely to support an increase if it were linked to a cut in estate taxes, but 49 percent (up five points) say this compromise would make them less supportive of a higher gas tax. Nine percent say it would make no difference, and 5 percent remain unsure.

“New Jerseyans have not budged in their opposition to a gas tax hike, no surprise given how unpopular the proposal has been since we first asked about it in the 1980s,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “While there is less opposition than decades ago, residents nevertheless do not want to pay more at the pump.”

Despite opposition to a hike, New Jerseyans support dedicating all gas tax revenue to the Transportation Trust Fund – a question that will be on the ballot in November. Fifty-four percent are in favor of using the revenue for this purpose, versus 34 percent who are against it.

Results are from a statewide poll of 801 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 18 to Feb. 23, 2016. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Few exceptions to majority opposition on hike

A majority of almost every demographic opposes a gas tax increase, with a few exceptions: Democrats (48 percent support to 50 percent oppose), senior citizens (49 percent support to 50 percent oppose), and those in households making between $100,000 and $150,000 (48 percent support to 50 percent oppose) are split down the middle on the issue.

In contrast, Republicans (at 63 percent), millennials (at 62 percent), shore residents (at 62 percent), and those in the lowest income bracket (at 61 percent) are most likely to oppose a hike.

Views differ little by driving habits: those who drive a car almost every day are slightly more likely to oppose an increase than those who drive less often.

But support for a hike is greatly influenced by one’s perception of how much is being spent on road repairs. Residents who believe the state is spending either too much (29 percent support, 71 percent oppose) or just the right amount (30 percent support, 68 percent oppose) are much less likely to support an increase in the gas tax than those who say the state is not spending enough (52 percent support, 46 percent oppose).

Every demographic is more likely to support than oppose giving all gas tax revenue to the Transportation Trust Fund, though to varying degrees. Those who support a hike (72 percent), drive almost daily (56 percent), and believe the state is not spending enough on roads (62 percent) are all especially likely to favor investing gas tax revenue into the Fund.

Minor support for estate tax compromise

The idea of cutting estate and inheritance taxes to balance a gas tax hike is not very popular with any demographic; only residents in the most affluent households are slightly more likely to say an estate tax trade-off would make them more rather than less (46 percent to 44 percent) inclined to support a hike.

Republicans (40 percent more likely), moderates (40 percent), millennials (41 percent), and shore residents (41 percent) are more prone than others to support a gas tax increase with the trade-off, but none reaches a majority.

A bare majority of residents who support a gas tax increase (53 percent) is swayed by a corresponding estate tax decrease, while six in 10 (62 percent) of those who oppose a hike feel just the opposite about the compromise.

“An estate tax compromise is not the kind of ‘tax fairness’ that persuades most New Jerseyans to support a gas tax hike,” said Koning. “Even among the estate tax’s usual opponents, like Republicans and affluent residents, support for a trade-off is lackluster.”

State transportation spending

New Jerseyans across the board feel the state does not spend enough money on roadway repairs, though there is some variation. Republicans are the least likely to feel this way, at 37 percent. Belief that spending is insufficient increases with age yet is lowest among those making under $50,000 compared to more affluent households.

Sixty-four percent of residents who support a gas tax increase feel New Jersey does not spend enough on road and bridge repairs. Even a plurality of gas tax hike opponents (42 percent) says the same.

Gas Tax Increase

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Water Quality in New Jersey

Since news first broke of water problems in Flint, Michigan, drinking water quality – and inequality of access to clean water – has been in the national spotlight. Reports have surfaced of problems here at home, too, with some cities in NJ allegedly having more lead-affected children than in Flint, as well as lead issues at Morristown Medical Center and most recently in Newark schools.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has actually been asking about water quality for a few decades now, along with other questions dealing with the environment, pollution, and health. We wanted to take a look back at a few of our past questions on water to see where things stand now given recent events.

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


But two-thirds are satisfied with their home tap water, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Like much of the nation in the wake of the Flint, Mich. water crisis, New Jerseyans are concerned about the quality of their drinking water, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Amid reports of similar lead problems here at home, 52 percent of New Jersey residents are concerned about the water they drink: 33 percent are very concerned, and 19 percent are somewhat concerned. Twenty-two percent are not very concerned, and 24 percent are not concerned at all.

In general, most New Jerseyans say that water pollution is at least a somewhat serious problem. Twenty-five percent believe it is a very serious problem, and another 37 percent say it is somewhat serious; 28 percent feel it is not too serious. Yet the number of those who see it as very serious is currently at an all-time low after several decades above the 50-percent mark.

Despite strong general concern, New Jerseyans are mostly satisfied with the quality of the water coming into their homes. Nineteen percent rate their tap water as excellent, 45 percent rate it as good, 20 percent rate it only fair, and 14 percent rate it as poor. These ratings have changed little over the past two decades.

“Decades of polling show us that water quality and pollution have long been concerns in New Jersey, given the state’s history of polluted waterways,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “Residents as a whole are more positive now than in the past, but a heightened sense of concern persists among those who still suffer from substandard water access and quality, a consequence of racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities.”

While residents are generally pleased with tap water quality, they prefer bottled or filtered water for drinking. Thirty-seven percent mostly use bottled water, 32 percent use filtered water, and 21 percent drink right from the tap. Ten percent use some combination of these methods. Tap water usage is down slightly since the Poll last asked about it more than a decade ago.

Results are from a statewide poll of 801 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 18 to 23, 2016. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Heightened concerns among those most impacted

Concern over drinking water quality is pervasive: about half or more of every demographic is at least somewhat concerned.

Concern is especially high among those who give their tap water quality negative ratings. Thirty-eight percent of residents who rate their tap water as only fair are very concerned, and another 30 percent are somewhat concerned. Among those who say their water is poor, 64 percent are very concerned; another 8 percent, somewhat. Those who rate their water as good or excellent, on the other hand, are much less worried. Half of residents who rate their water as good are concerned at some level, as are a third of those who rate it as excellent.

The type of water in one’s home also has a significant impact. Residents who use city water are more concerned than those with access to well water – 55 percent (35 percent very, 20 percent somewhat) versus 36 percent (20 percent very, 16 percent somewhat).

Likewise, users of filtered water (53 percent) and especially bottled water (62 percent) are more likely to express concern than those who drink water right from the tap (40 percent). The relationship goes both ways: those who express the most concern are least likely to drink tap water and more likely to use an alternative method.

Views on the severity of water pollution, in general, follow similar patterns. Thirty-two percent of residents who rate their own water as fair and 66 percent who rate it as poor believe water pollution is very serious; about one in ten say the same among those who rate their water as good or excellent. Residents who use bottled or filtered water are also more likely than those who drink tap water to believe the problem is very serious. Those who say the problem is very serious are least likely to use tap water.

Opinions on the severity of water pollution and concern over drinking water go hand in hand: the more one is concerned, the more likely he or she is to believe water pollution is a serious problem, and the more likely one is to believe water pollution is serious, the more concerned he or she is about tap water quality.

The water quality divide

Almost two-thirds of New Jerseyans say the quality of their tap water is good or excellent, but a closer look reveals disparities in access, usage, and ratings among certain demographic groups.

Non-white residents are more likely than white residents to have city water where they live (84 percent versus 79 percent), as well as more likely to use bottled water for drinking (44 percent to 32 percent). They are, in turn, less likely than white residents to rate the quality of their drinking water as good (42 percent to 47 percent) or excellent (15 percent versus 22 percent).

Those living in the state’s southern region near Philadelphia, or in shore or especially exurban counties, are most likely to have access to well water and thus more likely than urban or suburban residents to use their tap water for drinking. Almost three quarters of urban and suburban residents use bottled or filtered water as their main drinking source. Urban and especially suburban residents are also most likely to give their home tap water negative ratings.

Those in the highest income bracket are almost twice as likely as those in less affluent households to have well water (at 21 percent). Almost half of low-income residents use bottled water for drinking, more than any other income bracket. Water ratings increase with income: 61 percent say their water is excellent or good among those in households making $50,000 or less annually, compared to 69 percent among those making $150,000 or more.

While ratings vary little between those with city and well water, residents using city water are much less likely to drink straight from the tap than those with well water.

Residents who predominantly use tap water instead of bottle or filtered water give much higher ratings to the quality of water in their home.

“Race, income, and location drive disparities in tap water access and usage and, in turn, shape ratings on home tap water quality,” said Koning. “Non-white, urban, and lower income residents tend to perceive their water as lower quality, and the situation in Flint as well as recent reports of lead problems here in New Jersey suggest they may have reason for that concern.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized