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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