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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shore recovery ratings vary by region

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

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

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

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

‘Stronger than the storm’ widely viewed

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

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

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

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

Statewide recovery

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

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

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

Obama’s visit and ‘bipartisan bromance’

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Chris Christie, Superstorm Sandy

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