Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … New Jersey’s Most Important Problem Right Now is Not What You May Think

Taxes and Jobs/Unemployment Still Take Top Spots for New Jersey’s Most Important Problem

By Steven Galante

Steven Galante is a Graduate Eagleton Fellow through the Eagleton Institute of Politics, a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, and a Masters student at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information.

Despite the barrage of media coverage surrounding the Christie administration’s entanglement in the Bridgegate scandal, residents seek to consider the issue much less significant compared to issues affecting their wallet. A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll last month asked residents to name what they thought was the most pressing issue facing New Jersey.  Their answer? New Jerseyans continue to say taxes and jobs/unemployment are the most important problems facing the Garden State.

“Taxes” (including property taxes) occupies the top spot on the list with almost a quarter of New Jerseyans labeling this the most important problem. “Jobs and unemployment” ranked second highest with 17 percent mentioning this issue. Coming in third was crime and drugs, at 12 percent, and the economy, at 11 percent. Corruption (including mentions of “Bridgegate” and the “George Washington Bridge scandal”) received a measly 3 percent. Rounding out the rest, 9 percent say “education and schools” take the top spot, 4 percent say “Christie and government” in general, 3 percent mention something about traffic or transportation, 2 percent say government spending, and less than 1percent say Hurricane Sandy aid.

There is some predictable division by partisanship on the top two problems.  34 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of independents, and 17 percent of Democrats believe “taxes” are the most important issue to address. Jobs and unemployment are most important to Democrats (at 26 percent); 18 percent of independents and 14 percent of Republicans feel the same. Only 5 percent of Republicans, 3 percent of independents, and 3 percent of Democrats mention anything to do with recent scandals and corruption in general.

Word Cloud for "In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today." NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for “In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today.” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014. Credit: Ashley Koning.

Word Cloud for Democrats who answered, "In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today." NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for Democrats who answered, “In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today.” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014. Credit: Ashley Koning.

Word Cloud for independents who answered, "In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today." NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for independents who answered, “In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today.” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014. Credit: Ashley Koning.

Word Cloud for Republicans who answered, "In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today." NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014.

Word Cloud for Republicans who answered, “In just a couple of words, please tell me what the most important problem is in New Jersey today.” NJ Adults, Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Jan. 14-19, 2014. Credit: Ashley Koning.

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Christie for President?

Most Say Christie Will Still Run, But No Match for “Favorite” Hillary Clinton

By Caitlin Sullivan, Gabriela Perez, and Jingying Zeng

Caitlin Sullivan is the head data visualization intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a senior at Rutgers University. Gabriela Perez, a senior, and Jingying Zeng, a junior, are also data visualization interns at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

 In the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge scandal, Gov. Christie has not only taken a hit in his personal ratings but also in his presidential chances for 2016, at least with New Jersey voters. In a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll January 14-19, 2014, NJ registered voters give a clear lead to Hillary Clinton over Christie, while making it close between Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, when asked about potential 2016 matchups.

Clinton is a clear favorite in the “blue” state of New Jersey. Only 34 percent of NJ registered voters say that they would vote for Christie if the election were today, while 55 percent support Clinton. The potential Christie-Cuomo race, on the other hand, is neck-and-neck: 41 percent favor Christie while 42 percent would vote for Cuomo.

Christie’s second place position to Clinton and virtual tie with Cuomo stems from the governor’s significant favorability ratings drop. Once more supportive of Christie, only 46 percent of voters have a favorable impression of the governor, compared to 47 percent who have a favorable impression of Cuomo. But Clinton really shines with NJ voters right now: 65 percent have a favorable impression of her, a level Christie enjoyed before Bridgegate. While Republicans and Democrats stick by their respective partisan candidates, independents give a slight edge to Christie in favorability: 55 percent are favorable of the governor, versus 54 percent for Clinton and 45 percent for Cuomo.

Despite his problems, Christie does not lose his GOP base in the head-to-head tests; he still retains the support of 77 percent of Republican voters versus Clinton and 82 percent of Republicans versus Cuomo.

But Democrats and independents portray different stories. Independents are split in the Christie-Clinton race, 41 percent for Christie to 46 percent for Clinton. But Christie is the clear choice for independents against NY Gov. Cuomo, 46 percent to 30 percent.

Not surprisingly, overwhelming majorities of Democrats side with the Democratic candidates: 85 percent would support Clinton against Christie, and 70 percent would support Cuomo.

Women voters give the edge to the Democratic candidate in both matchups, especially when it comes to the one who could potentially be the first woman president. Clinton takes 60 percent of women, versus 30 percent for Christie, a 30-point gap. Cuomo also wins women, but by a narrower margin: 46 percent to 34 percent for Christie. A large gender gap emerges, where men support Clinton by only eight points, 48 percent to 40 percent for Christie. And men prefer Christie over Cuomo by 12 points, 49 percent to 37 percent.

Asked about whether Christie is focused more on his potential presidential campaign or more on doing what’s best for the state, just over half of voters believe Christie’s main concern is his potential presidential campaign, while a little more than a third say the governor puts the state first and foremost in his decisions. Opinions are divided across partisan lines, of course: two-thirds of Republican voters believe Christie makes decisions that are best for the state, versus 39 percent of independents, and 22 percent of Democrats.

Voters have mixed feelings on whether Christie running for president will be good or bad for New Jersey, with a plurality (45 percent) saying it will make no difference. The rest of voters are split between whether it would affect the state positively or negatively, 28 percent to 21 percent. Forty-two percent of Republicans say a Christie presidential run would benefit the state – which is more than double the share of Democrats and 13 points more than independents who say the same.

In spite of this negative outlook for Christie in his home state – which, after all, is much more Democratic than Republican overall – most still say they expect Christie to run for president in 2016. Sixty percent of all voters think he will run, including a majority of partisans of all stripes (57 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of independents, and 67 percent of Republicans).

Christie for President Tables February 2014

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Attitudes on Gov. Christie’s State of the State Proposal for a Longer School Day and School Year

By John Masusock and Steven Galante

John Masusock is a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a sophomore at Rutgers University. Steven Galante is a Graduate Eagleton Fellow through the Eagleton Institute of Politics, a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, and a Masters student at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information.

Despite escalating scandals, Gov. Chris Christie put forth some new proposals in his State of the State address a few weeks ago – perhaps the most noteworthy of which was a call for a longer school day and school year.  But support for Christie’s proposal is mixed among New Jerseyans.  In a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll January 14-19, 2014, respondents were asked whether they support both a longer day and year, support a longer year but not longer day, support a longer day but not longer year, or oppose both options.

A plurality of New Jerseyans – 41 percent – opposed both lengthening the school day and the school year, while 31 percent side with the governor and support extending both.  Another 15 percent agree with a longer year but not longer days, while 9 percent favor longer days but not more of them.

Unusually for issues in New Jersey, partisanship does not have any effect on opinions towards Christie’s proposal. Instead, opinions of Christie himself and how he is handling the issue of education do.  More than half of those who are unfavorable toward Christie oppose both a longer school day and year, compared to just 31 percent of those who feel favorably toward him.  Conversely, those with a favorable impression of the governor are 15 points more likely than those who are not to support Christie’s call for a longer school day and year (38 percent to 23 percent).

Even bigger disparities are evident between those who approve and disapprove of Christie’s job performance on education.  While 41 percent of those who approve of Christie’s handling of ”education and schools” support both a longer day and year, only 19 percent who disapprove Christie’s education performance feel the same.  The sentiment is switched for opposition to the plan: 29 percent of those who approve oppose both extensions, versus 57 percent of those who disapprove.  While disapprovers are split on whether there should just be longer days or just longer years, approvers are more than twice as likely to support a longer year than day.

Age additionally plays a big role.  The oldest respondents (65+) are almost twice as likely as the youngest respondents to say they support the plan for both a longer day and year; almost half of 18-29 year olds oppose both, compared to 32 percent of those 65 and over.  With the exception of the youngest age group, those New Jerseyans in the middle on the issue are slightly more likely to support extending the school year but not the school day.

Level of education also seems to have some influence.  Those New Jerseyans with a high school degree or less are least likely to support the proposal – only a quarter supports both a longer day and year versus half who support neither. Those with some college or more are more likely than high school graduates to at least support either a longer day (with the exception of those with graduate work) or longer year, as well as to support both.

America is always competing for the best test scores and education ranking against the rest of the world, and there is competition on the local level, too, with districts constantly ranked in official school quality reports. A longer time in school could have many positive effects on students and their well-being.  But there are many details that have not yet been divulged about Christie’s new proposal that will surely be an issue: building maintenance, meal schedules, busing, teacher compensation, and the additional costs to taxpayers – just to name a few.  Whatever the outcomes here, the majority of opinion does not seem to be on Christie’s side for enacting both options together, but there is some support for some variation of an extended school year or school day.  Just in case, students should try to enjoy those long summers while they still can …

Christie Education Proposal Tables February 2014

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … The Initial Rollout of the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey

Mixed Views on Affordable Care Act; Numbers on Healthcare.gov Sign Up

By Max Mescall, Ian McGeown, and Liz Kantor

Max Mescall is a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a junior at Rutgers University. Ian McGeown is an Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and is a sophomore at Rutgers University. Liz Kantor is an Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program sophomore at Rutgers University. 

 It would be hard to find someone living in the United States that has not heard the term “Obamacare” thrown around in the media in the past few years. After much debate and discussion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is finally starting to take effect as Americans can now make decisions about what kind of healthcare coverage to select, either through HealthCare.gov or their own state-based marketplace where applicable.

Our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that New Jerseyans have somewhat mixed views on the Affordable Care Act.  A majority at least somewhat supports the ACA, pretty evenly split between 26 percent somewhat supporting and 28 percent strongly supporting the law.  But those who do not like the ACA are more likely to express strong than middling opposition: 28 percent strongly oppose, while 12 percent are somewhat opposed.

Unsurprisingly there is a clear partisan divide: 44 percent of Democrats give strong support, compared to just 20 percent of independents and 5 percent of Republicans. While an overwhelming majority of Democrats support the law at some level, just under half of independents feel the same while 8 in 10 Republicans are at least somewhat opposed.

Since most NJ residents have health insurance already either through their work (47 percent) or through Medicare (13 percent) or Medicaid (3 percent), as of mid-January relatively few had actually used Healthcare.gov to try to purchase a new health insurance policy. Just 14 percent reported attempts to use the site, not surprising since the vast majority of New Jerseyans already had insurance through other sources.

Among those who attempted to use the site, about two-thirds say they actually obtained insurance from it. Among this small number of respondents (less than 10 percent of the full sample), 25 percent find that it was less expensive than their prior insurance, just slightly fewer (22 percent) say it was more expensive, and around the same number (23 percent) say it was about the same cost. Nine percent are not sure. Another 21 percent who successfully signed up could not compare to previous insurance rates because they did not have insurance before purchasing through the exchange.

Overall, a large majority says the ACA has had little effect on them and their families so far.  Just over two-thirds (67 percent) of New Jerseyans say the ACA has had little effect, while 11 percent say it has helped their families, and 17 percent say it has done more harm than good.  But this sentiment is again divided across partisan lines: Republicans are approximately five times more likely than Democrats to say the law has hurt them (34 percent versus 7 percent), though the majority within each party sees little effect yet.

In the end, of course, most New Jerseyans, as with most people nationwide, are already covered by insurance before Obamacare, so for most, the insurance exchanges don’t really make any difference. At the same time, it seems clear that New Jerseyans are not focused on benefits of the program beyond the exchanges – including keeping children on parent’s policies to age 26, elimination of lifetime caps, and removal of pre-existing limitations. That seems to be the only way to explain why few New Jersey respondents say they have seen any benefits in the new law.

In general, Obama’s job grade is still high in the “blue” state of New Jersey, with 60 percent feeling favorably toward the president – though this positivity is driven mostly by the 88 percent of Democrats who feel this way.  About half of independents and only 14 percent of Republicans feel the same.  Predictably, Obama’s favorability has a strong relationship to opinions on the Affordable Care Act.  Favorable impressions steadily increase and negative impressions correspondingly decrease with each successive level of support for the health care law.  In turn, those more favorable toward Obama are more likely to support the law, and those who are more unfavorable are more likely to oppose it.  Obama’s job grade follows similar patterns.

Results are from a statewide poll of 826 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Jan 14 – 19.

Jan 2014 Health Care Questions and Tables

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

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

By Ashley Koning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE BY THE NUMBERS POST-“BRIDGEGATE”: A COMPARISON OF STATE AND NATIONWIDE POLLING IN THE WAKE OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE SCANDAL

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Staff has been hard at work compiling and comparing all of Gov. Christie’s numbers post-“Bridgegate” both state and nationwide in important areas like favorability, job performance, the scandal itself, and perceptions of the governor’s bully-like nature, leadership, and trustworthiness.

Had a nice shoutout from Huffington Post Pollster. (Scroll down to “Tuesday’s Outliers” or just click the link below for the tables referred to there.)

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Post-Bridgegate Christie Comparison Tables.

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