Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … New Jerseyans and Global Climate Change

Recent Storms Seen as Result of Climate Change, Not Isolated Events

By Caitie Sullivan and Mihir Dixit

Caitlin Sullivan is the head data visualization and graphic representation intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) and a senior at Rutgers University. Mihir Dixit is a data visualization intern at ECPIP and a freshman at Rutgers University.

These data come from a three-state study done in February by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in conjunction with two other statewide academic polling centers – Siena Research Institute in New York and Roanoke’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research in Virginia. We fielded a large set of the same questions to respondents in our respective states and have previously released the state-by-state results. This blog post takes a closer look at the New Jersey-specific data and the differences that emerge within New Jersey itself for some of the questions we asked in this study.

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After events like Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy the past few years, New Jersey residents tend to believe that the violent weather patterns impacting the East Coast are more than just coincidental occurrences. While 31 percent of New Jerseyans believe that recent major storms on the East Coast are simply isolated weather events, 62 percent believe that global climate change is instead the culprit.

These views on climate change are divided across partisan lines, of course. As expected, more than three-quarters of Democrats display the belief that these weather patterns are a result of climate change; only 16 percent believe the storms are isolated events. Republicans, on the other hand, feel the opposite – though not to the same extent as Democrats. While 35 percent of Republicans believe that climate change is responsible for major storms on the East Coast, 55 percent consider the storms to be coincidental. Independents are somewhere in between. Climate change is the more popular explanation for recent inclement weather, with 61 percent of independents agreeing with this sentiment, versus 31 percent of independents who say these storms are isolated happenings.

Majorities of both men and women also believe that the recent extreme weather throughout the East Coast has been due to climate change. Men are less inclined to believe that the storms are the result of climate change than women, however – 57 percent versus 67 percent, respectively. Over a third of men and just a quarter of women believe that these major storms are just coincidental.

There also seems to be some significant difference in opinion among age groups. Seventy-two percent of millennials (between 18 and 29 years old) believe that these recent storms are due to climate change, while only 25 percent in that age bracket believe they are isolated events. But this gap between those who believe recent major weather events are the result of climate change and those who believe they are isolated gets smaller as age increases. Almost two-thirds of New Jerseyans ages 30 to 49 feel that the storms are the product of climate change, but three in ten say they are solitary events. More than half of those over 50 believe that the recent storms have been caused by climate change, but about a third still believe these events are unrelated to one another.

New Jersey residents living in urban, suburban, and south Jersey areas are more likely to believe that these storms are the result of climate change than those living in exurban or shore regions. While surprising at first since the shore has been devastated by these recent storms, much of these differences boil down to partisan ties within the regions. Seven in ten urbanites, over six in ten suburbanites and those who live near Philadelphia and in South Jersey believe climate change is to blame for the recent major storms on the East Coast, compared to just over half of exurbanites and shore dwellers who feel the same. Those in the exurban and shore regions are a little more split in their opinions than others; over a third says that the recent storms are just isolated occurrences.

Regardless of opinions on climate change, one thing New Jerseyans can certainly agree on is the need for warmer weather and for spring to arrive soon …

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Analysis of Rutgers-Eagleton 2013 Pre-election Polls Released

Following inaccurate results for final pre-election polls in October 2013 (NJ Special Senate) and November 2013 (NJ Governor), the Eagleton Institute of Politics commissioned an outside study by Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates of New York to identify reasons for the outcomes of these polls. Today, The Eagleton Institute of Politics and Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling are releasing this analysis to the public as part of a commitment to transparency and education.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll reported a final pre-election poll for the special Senate election between then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Republican former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in which Booker held a 22-point lead. Booker ultimately won by 11 points. In the final November gubernatorial pre-election poll, Rutgers-Eagleton had Republican Governor Chris Christie ahead of his Democratic challenger state Senator Barbara Buono by 36 points: Christie won by 22.

The Langer report identifies the primary reason for the inaccurate results as the failure to put the “head-to-head” questions, which asked respondents for their vote intention, at or near the beginning of the questionnaire. Because these questions were asked after a series of other questions, it appears that respondents were “primed” to think positively about Governor Chris Christie in the November survey, which then may have led Democrats and independents in particular to over-report their likelihood of voting for the Governor. A similar process occurred with the October Senate poll, where voters were first reminded of how little they knew about Lonegan and how much they liked Booker before being asked the vote question.

Ruth B. Mandel, director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics stated that, “In response to these results, Eagleton chose to contract with an independent, highly respected, outside survey research firm to review its recent work and offer suggestions for improvement.” She added, “The Institute is committed to contributing to political knowledge in New Jersey and nationally with credible, impartial data. When we saw we had a problem, we knew we had to learn why and what to do about it.”

“Gary Langer and his colleagues spent many hours examining multiple aspects of our polling to understand what went wrong,” said David Redlawsk, director of Eagleton’s Center on Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) and professor of political science at Rutgers. “We are grateful for the efforts they put in and the advice they have provided, both in terms of this specific issue and general operations of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. The results of this report will make what we do even better.”

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has been a valued source of information about the views of New Jersey residents for over 40 years. As an academic-based survey research organization, ECPIP strives to be transparent and accessible. “We have a special obligation to take our educational mission seriously, which includes informing the public as well as learning from our own errors.” Redlawsk notes that survey research results released by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, for example, aim to meet the transparency standards set by the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Further, in recent years, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has been providing open informal insights and perspectives about survey research from Redlawsk and members of his staff through its blog at https://eagletonpollblog.wordpress.com. And for many years full data from the Poll has been freely available, generally after a one-year period, at http://eagleton.libraries.rutgers.edu/.

Langer’s major finding is that the order in which the head-to-head ballot test questions were asked most likely added inadvertent bias to the results in both the October and November Polls, although the results came out in opposite partisan directions in the two polls. Decisions made by ECPIP to maintain the standard set of questions about political figures including Cory Booker and ratings of Chris Christie at the beginning of the questionnaire worked to particularly prime Democrats in the November poll and Republicans in the October poll to support the candidate from the other party – Christie or Booker.

Redlawsk noted that the cause was a decision to maintain an ongoing four-year series of questions about Governor Christie that have been asked at the very beginning of a Rutgers-Eagleton NJ Poll since the governor’s inauguration. “We made this decision purposefully to maintain the integrity of our time series,” said Redlawsk. “This long-term research has greatly informed our understanding of public opinion about Governor Christie, and we had concerns that moving these questions after a head-to-head vote question would bias those results for the same reason we ended up biasing the vote questions.”

Most pre-election head-to-head polls focus only on the election and do not include long batteries of additional questions. The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was unable to field separate pre-election surveys and thus combined the head-to-head polls with the regular surveys of New Jersey public opinion. “In retrospect, this was the wrong choice when one goal was to be as accurate as possible with pre-election numbers,” noted Redlawsk. “We should have either fielded a separate poll or just focused on our long-term work, rather than trying to do both at the same time.”

The Langer report on the cause of the pre-election poll mis-estimates is available to the public now on the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll website at http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu (PDF).

 

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Filed under 2013 NJ Election, Buono, Chris Christie, Cory Booker, NJ Senate 2013 Special Election, Steve Lonegan

Are America’s Best Days in the Past: New Jerseyans Weigh In

Today’s release for the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll is NOT about NJ Gov. Chris Christie. But it IS about something at least as important: How do New Jerseyans view the country’s economic future? The answer is they are quite split. A bare majority thinks things will get better, but nearly as many believe America’s best economic times are behind it and the next generation will be worse off.

Such findings are depressing if not surprising, given how the economic recovery has not been particularly robust over the past five years.

We also asked respondents to choose which is the greater problem facing the country: income inequality or too much government. This forced choice question does NOT ask if people think both are significant problems, but instead requires respondents to choose one or the other. In doing so we find the expected partisan differences, but also a small gender gap, with women slightly more likely than men to focus on income inequality.

What’s maybe more interesting is despite the fact that women lean more Democratic, and thus would be expected to be relatively positive about the country’s economic future since a Democrat is in the White House, and people tend support their party leaders, the opposite is true. Women are significantly more likely to say the country’s best economic days are behind it, even as they contradict the other partisan findings that Democrats are generally much more optimistic than Republicans. We speculate that this may be because women have born more of the brunt of the economic downturn or are more connected to the family finances.

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

ARE AMERICA’S BEST ECONOMIC DAYS IN THE PAST?
NEW JERSEYANS SPLIT ON INCOME INEQUALITY VS. TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – While New Jersey has a reputation as a liberal-leaning state, residents are split over whether America’s greater problem is income inequality or too much government, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Asked to choose between the typically liberal belief that income inequality is a bigger problem and conservatives’ regular assertion that the real problem is too much government, New Jersey residents evenly divide at 48 percent for each.

New Jerseyans also divide over the country’s economic future. A bare majority (51 percent) optimistically asserts that the country’s current economic problems are just temporary, while 45 percent pessimistically thinks America’s best days are in the past and the next generation will have to accept a lower standard of living.

“We recently reported large majorities of Garden Staters support a wide range of liberal social positions, but it’s different when it comes to economic well-being,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “While New Jersey is one of the most affluent states, residents appear quite unsettled about the country’s economic future. Moreover, the liberal focus on income inequality is less prevalent than might be expected, when placed against a desire for smaller government.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 22 to 28, part of a  three-state study carried out by Eagleton (NJ), the Siena Research Institute (NY), and Roanoke College’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (VA). New Jerseyans fall between New Yorkers, a majority of whom (54 percent) say income inequality is the bigger problem and Virginia, where 52 percent say the problem is too much government.

Partisan divide: Income inequality vs. too much government

Unsurprisingly, Garden State Republicans argue that too much government is the greater problem, while Democrats think it is income inequality. Among GOP backers, 79 percent say the former is the greater problem, versus 18 percent who see income inequality as a bigger issue.

But more than two-thirds of Democrats endorse the liberal argument that income inequality is the larger problem, with 31 percent citing bigger government. The even split across the full population comes because independents – the largest political segment in the state – are split, with 45 percent focused on income inequality and 48 percent on bigger government.

“These two problems define current classic partisan divide in America so the big picture is a bit misleading,” said Redlawsk. “Looked at overall, opinions look muddled since New Jerseyans appear evenly divided. But partisans definitely hew their party lines, and it is these same partisans who care most about these questions.”

Reflecting the same partisan divide, supporters of President Barack Obama are highly likely to say income inequality is the greater of the two problems, while a majority of those unfavorable toward the president think the problem is too much government.

There appears to be a weak link between a pessimistic view of the country’s future and believing that too much government is a bigger problem than income inequality. A slight majority of those who think America’s best economic days are in the past side with the conservative view that too much government is the problem, while a slight majority of those optimistic about the economic future thinks income inequality is a more critical issue.

A small gender gap exists as well. Just over half of women side with income inequality, while just over half of men side with too much government. Age also shows some divisions: 56 percent of residents under 30 year old see the problem as income inequality, while older groups are more likely to feel government is too big. While there is no clear trend by income bracket, a focus on income inequality increases with increased levels of education.

Democrats, Obama supporters more optimistic about economic future

While New Jerseyans overall are split between whether the nation’s current economic problems are temporary or reflect a long-term decline, some groups are much more divided.

Sixty-two percent of Democrats say the current economic situation is temporary, with 35 percent see the country’s best days in the past. Independents lean pessimistic: half say the country’s best days are in the past, while 46 percent expect the economy to rebound. Republicans feel similarly: 51 percent are pessimistic, but 44 percent say economic problems are temporary.

Obama supporters and detractors show similar patterns. Almost two-thirds of supporters say problems are temporary, while 60 percent of detractors believe America will never regain its economic strength. Likewise, 58 percent of those for whom income inequality is the greater problem think that the economy will regain its strength. However, respondents who say too much government is the problem express a pessimistic view of the economic future, 53 percent to 45 percent.

Almost three-quarters of New Jerseyans who see the U.S. as on the right track call the current economic situation temporary. Those who say the country is going in the wrong direction are less positive, with 57 percent view current economic problems as permanent, versus 40 percent who are more optimistic. Fifty-four percent of residents who think the Garden State is on the right track say the current economic situation is temporary. Those who feel the opposite are equally split, 48 percent optimistic to 50 percent saying the best days are behind us.

Men are much more optimistic about the future than women; 58 percent call the current economic malaise temporary and 38 percent says America’s best days are behind it. While 45 percent of women think conditions will improve, just over half say the country’s best days are past.

“These differences in opinion are not what we necessarily expected,” noted Redlawsk. “Obama’s supporters probably transfer their good feelings about Obama to their perceptions of his work on the economy, and thus see the future as bright. What’s interesting is that the president’s detractors are not unrelentingly negative about the future – more pessimistic than optimistic, perhaps, but not completely on one side or the other.”

Redlawsk added that the gender gap on this question seems to operate in an unexpected direction. “Women, who typically lean more Democratic and more liberal, are nonetheless more pessimistic about the economic future. This may be due to experiencing a gender pay gap that has proven especially painful in this economy. Or, being typically more likely to handle everyday household finances, women may have a better grasp on how difficult things are today compared to before the recession, and thus are less likely to see light at the end of the economic tunnel.”

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TRUST IN CHRISTIE REMAINS AT ALL-TIME LOW; MORE THAN HALF STILL SEE A “STRONG LEADER”

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

TRUST IN CHRISTIE REMAINS AT ALL-TIME LOW
BUT MORE THAN HALF OF VOTERS STILL SEE GOVERNOR AS STRONG LEADER

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Despite a reboot of his town hall meetings, and even with no significant new revelations in the Bridgegate scandal, perceptions of Gov. Chris Christie’s personal traits remain at a low point in New Jersey, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Following a sharp, negative turn in opinions of key Christie traits in January, New Jersey registered voters now rate his “trustworthiness” at an all-time low with just 23 percent saying “trustworthy” applies very well to Christie, down 20 points from October 2013. Another 38 percent say trustworthy fits Christie just somewhat well, while 35 percent say it does not fit him well at all.

While more than half of voters still say “strong leader” describes Christie “very well”, even that trait which has been key for Christie since Superstorm Sandy, is at a low point. Voters are more divided on the extent to which “sincere” describes the governor: 31 percent say it fits him very well, 35 percent say somewhat well, and 30 percent say Christie is not sincere at all.

“The Bridgegate and Sandy allegations continue to take their toll on perceptions of the governor’s positive personality traits,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “In particular, trustworthy was one of Christie’s hallmarks, especially given voters’ normal cynicism about politicians. Losing the trust of voters puts Christie into the category of an ordinary politician. At the same time, his overall New Jersey ratings remain pretty good for a Republican in this blue state.”

The number of respondents who see Christie as a bully – 37 percent – has fallen since January’s all-time high of 43 percent. And just under half say “arrogant” fits Christie very well.

Emotional responses toward Christie show little change from January. Pride in and enthusiasm about the governor remain nearly steady at 36 percent after double-digit declines in January. But 40 percent of voters are angry, and 45 percent are worried when they think about the governor.

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 22 to 28. Within this sample are 729 registered voters reported upon in this release, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Bridgegate believers most likely to distrust Christie

The decline in assessments of Christie’s trustworthiness is significantly driven by partisan differences and views on the George Washington Bridge (GWB) scandal. Fewer than 10 percent of Democrats say trustworthy describes Christie very well, while 52 percent of Republicans are still in this camp. While partisan perceptions have stayed fairly steady, independents are even less trusting than they were in January: just 20 percent say trustworthy fits Christie very well, down 10 points in the last five weeks and 24 points lower than in October.

Voters’ beliefs about whether Christie knew of his staff’s alleged involvement in closing bridge access lanes from Fort Lee last September influence whether they still trust the governor. Thirty-seven percent find it very unlikely Christie was unaware ahead of time of what his staff allegedly planned, and an additional 15 percent think it is somewhat unlikely, while 44 percent say it is at least somewhat likely he did not know.

Among those who think it is very likely Christie did not know ahead of time of his staff’s actions, more than half (52 percent) see Christie as trustworthy. In contrast, just 7 percent of voters who say it is very unlikely the governor was unaware of the plan agree with this assessment.

Assessments of Christie’s January 9 press conference about the traffic tie-up also affect how trustworthy Christie appears. The one in six voters who fully believe Christie’s explanation of what happened in Fort Lee are three times as likely to say trustworthy fits him very well (76 percent), compared to the third who somewhat believe him, where only 22 percent ascribes trust to Christie. And a mere 4 percent of the 44 percent who completely disbelieve Christie’s explanation see him as trustworthy; 69 percent of this group says the term does not apply to Christie whatsoever.

As for the Sandy-related allegations thrown at the governor, 41 percent think they are false, but 45 percent believe the claims. Those who think the allegations are false are more trusting of Christie than others: 44 percent say trustworthy describes Christie very well, 44 percent say somewhat well, and only 10 percent say not well at all. Just 6 percent of those whole believe the allegations think trustworthy describes the governor very well; 61 percent says it does not fit at all.

The term “sincere,” asked here for the second time, shows similar partisan divisions as in January: 16 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans say this word describes Christie very well, little changed. But there has been an 11 point drop to 28 percent of independents who now think that adjective describes Christie very well. Voters who believe Christie was aware of the lane closures and those who think his administration purposely withheld Sandy funds, are significantly less likely to call him sincere.

While just over half of all voters still see Christie as a strong leader, the numbers have taken a slight dip among Democrats (five points to 35 percent) and independents (six points to 54 percent). Eight in 10 Republicans, however, continue to say that the trait describes their governor very well.

As Bridgegate quiets, negative labels stabilize

With the absence of major new allegations in recent weeks, opinions on some of the most negative descriptors applied to Christie have stabilized. Opinions on “bully” are steady or improved among partisans of all stripes. Half of Democrats now say bully fits Christie very well, a nine-point drop from January. Independents are now at 35 percent, while only 17 percent of Republicans still feel the same. More than half of Republicans say the governor is not a bully, a feeling shared by 17 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents. Those skeptical of Christie’s claims Bridgegate and who think Sandy aid decisions were political are much more likely to label him as a bully. And voters using the GWB at least weekly are 11 to 13 points more likely to say bully fits Christie very well, compared to voters who never cross it.

Democrats particularly find Christie “arrogant,” with 62 percent saying the term describes Christie very well, although this is a nine-point drop over the last five weeks. Forty-six percent of independents feel the same, as do 25 percent of Republicans. Seven in ten voters who think it is very likely Christie knew about his staff’s alleged actions believe arrogant fits him very well, compared to just over a third of other voters. Likewise, three-quarters of those who completely disbelieve Christie’s explanation say arrogant fits very well, compared to 30 percent who somewhat believe him and just 18 percent who fully believe him. As with bully, voters who think the Sandy-related allegations are true are about three times more likely to say arrogant describes him very well than those who disbelieve the claims.

Anger and worry over Christie continue

Voters continue to experience more negative emotions toward Christie than they did pre-Bridgegate. Anger and worry remain up, and pride and enthusiasm are still down, all back to pre-Sandy levels. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans and 35 percent of independents say Christie makes them feel enthusiastic, while 61 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of independents say he makes them feel proud. Democrats have rebounded from large dips in January, up nine points to 23 percent for pride and up five points to 22 percent for enthusiasm.

Positive emotions are significantly lower among those less likely to believe Christie had no knowledge of his staff’s involvement with the GWB lane closures, those less likely to believe his explanation and those who believe allegations over Sandy funds are true.

Partisans have remained relatively steady in their feelings of anger and worry toward the governor since January. Fifty-four percent of Democrats, 38 percent of independents and 24 percent of Republicans feel angry. Similarly, 59 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of independents, and 24 percent of Republicans are worried about Christie. About half of frequent GWB users are worried and angry, compared to about 40 percent of those who use it less frequently or not at all. Sixty percent of those who say it is very unlikely Christie was unaware of the lane closures, those who do not believe his explanation, and those who believe in the Sandy-related allegations say they feel anger and worry toward the governor.

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NEW JERSEYANS EXPRESS LIMITED SUPPORT FOR GAS TAX HIKE

For a PDF of the Text, Questions, and Tables for this release, click here.

NEW JERSEYANS EXPRESS LIMITED SUPPORT FOR GAS TAX HIKE
Support varies depending on how tax is explained  

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – New Jerseyans roundly oppose the idea of a gas tax increase that was floated last month by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.  Nearly two-thirds of New Jersey adults oppose any hike, while just a third supports paying more. Views are virtually the same among the registered voters surveyed as part of the sample – 34 percent support, to 62 percent oppose.

Levels of support for a higher gas tax, however, depend on how the question is worded.  Respondents told only that an increase would help finance road maintenance and improvements were far less supportive than those also told New Jersey has the third lowest tax nationally and has not raised it in over 20 years. Without this extra information, 68 percent oppose the increase, while 27 percent support it and six percent are uncertain. But 38 percent of those told the state tax is low and has been stable support an increase, while 60 percent oppose, and just two percent have no opinion.

“New Jerseyans don’t want to pay higher taxes, period,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “But in this case,  the details matter. Knowing the context – that our tax is relatively low and stable – people are somewhat more willing to consider an increase to address road maintenance and improvement. But it’s still not enough to overcome an intense dislike of more taxes.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 22 to 28. Within this sample are 729 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Gas tax opposition less among Democrats, older residents, top income brackets

Averaging across both versions of the question, there is no demographic group giving majority support for a gas tax increase. Democrats are marginally more likely than independents and Republicans to support a hike: 36 percent, versus 32 percent and 29 percent, respectively. More than six in ten independents and seven in ten Republicans oppose it, compared to 57 percent of Democrats.

Income shows the largest differences. Those in households making $100,000 or over are most likely to support the tax increase – 42 percent in favor and 54 percent opposed. But among the lowest earning households – those under $50,000 –only 24 percent support the proposed increase, versus 72 percent opposed.  Support increases steadily with income level.

“Those making the most are more willing to pay this tax than those with lower incomes,” said Redlawsk. “Given the highly regressive nature of the tax where its effect is not based on ability to pay, that makes some sense. Those with the money to spend are likely to see the increase as a minor hit and to trade it off against the benefit of infrastructure maintenance.”

Older residents are slightly more likely to support the tax increase than younger New Jerseyans, while women are slightly less likely to support it than men.

Question Wording has double-digit impact, including on some of those most skeptical

The framing of the question makes a large difference within some demographic groups, even as support increases across the board when respondents are informed the tax has not been raised in 20 years and is relatively low compared to gas taxes in the rest of the country.

In particular, question wording has significant effect on the highest earning households. Those with incomes over $100,000 show a 17-point increase in support when given the additional information. Without it, only 34 percent are supportive, but once told that the tax is among the lowest and has not increased in 20+ years, support increases to 51 percent – the only case in which any group shows majority support. While Garden Staters making $50,000-$100,000 show a similar double-digit increase, they still do not reach a majority with the elaborated frame; those in other income brackets are not affected by the additional information and show little change.

Additional information causes both Democrats and Republicans to increase support: Democrats jump from 29 percent to 44 percent support, while Republicans increase 18 points from 19 percent to 37 percent.  Independents are less influenced by the wording with just a 7-point increase in support.

While men are overall more likely than women to support an increase, question wording has an additional effect on them, while having little influence on women. Support for the gas tax increase increases by 18 points for men provided additional context, to 46 percent, while women show only a 6-point increase, with less than one-third supporting the increase even in this case.

While those in the youngest age group were among the most skeptical, 18-34 year olds are actually more affected by the additional information than any other age bracket.  Support among this group jumps 18 points to 38 percent. Fifty to 64 year olds also show a double-digit increase, to 44 percent, but 35-49 year olds and those in the oldest cohorts show little change between the two versions.

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More results coming next week

We had two releases this week on our most recent poll; one in which we focused on questions we asked in conjunction with two other survey centers in other states, and one on how voters are feeling about Gov Christie, Bridgegate, and Sandy. We hope you found those interesting. This is just a heads up that there is more to come next week.

Monday will bring a short report on voter’s response to the idea of an increase in New Jersey’s gas tax.

On Tuesday, we expect to release results on questions about perceptions of Christie’s personality traits and emotional responses to the governor following up on our January release on this.

Finally, toward the end of the week we expect to have more to say on national  issues that New Jerseyans care about.

Stay tuned!

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The Latest Numbers on Bridgegate, Sandy, and Gov. Christie

Today we release the latest numbers on how Bridgegate and to some extent Sandy recovery issues are effecting the standing of Gov. Chris Christie. As the release below details, the governor’s overall ratings have stayed essentially stable since our last poll after Bridgegate broke in January. Both his favorability and overall job performance ratings are slightly higher than they were in January (though the difference is NOT statistically significant) while remaining far below his peaks in 2013. But from our perspective the more interesting story here is the collapse in job approval ratings for Christie’s Sandy recovery efforts. Throughout 2013, NJ votes gave the governor extremely high approval for post-Sandy efforts; at times more than 80% approved his job performance on Sandy even as a plurality or more disapproved other areas, like taxes and the economy.

We find approval of Gov. Christie on Sandy recovery has now dropped to 54%. Yes, it is still a majority, but the difference is quite dramatic. We see this driven in part by a nearly even split in whether voters believe allegations that the administration withheld Sandy aid from towns where Democratic Mayors did not endorse Christie’s re-election. Those who believe this have reversed course on Sandy, while those who do not remain as positive about the governor’s Sandy work as ever.  In the end, this may actually be more of a problem for Christie than Bridgegate, and we may well have settled back to the pre-Sandy status quo – about half the state approving and half not approving how the governor is doing.

One quick note. Starting this this poll, we are adjusting our reported margin of error to include what are called “design effects” related to weighting the data to better match the population. All public telephone polls report weighted results – the raw sample is rarely an exact fit for the population. So we use statistical processes to adjust to known factors in the population – in our case generally age, race, ethnicity, and gender. In making this adjustment we add more uncertainty to the results, which increases the margin of error of our estimates. However, few polls seem to clearly report this effect (the design effect). If you read the disclosure statement at the end of the PDF of the poll, you will see where we made this adjustment, increasing our reported margin of error for the registered voter sample from +/-3.7 percentage points for the raw sample to +/-3.8 percentage points for the weighted sample. It isn’t much, but it does make the margin of error more accurate.

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

N.J. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE TAKES BIG HIT ON SANDY RECOVERY RATINGS
Overall favorability – steady since January – remains much lower than 2013 highs

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Bridgegate continues to dominate Gov. Chris Christie’s second term, and with new questions about how Superstorm Sandy funds have been managed, New Jersey voters have dramatically changed their perception of Christie’s job performance on Sandy recovery, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Only 54 percent now approve Christie’s efforts on Sandy, down 15 points since the mid-January poll and a 26-point drop from November 2013. Thirty-six percent disapprove, up 10 points from January, while 10 percent are unsure.

“These new numbers are a far cry from the nearly unanimous praise the governor had received for post-Sandy leadership,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “We’re seeing a real impact from recent claims involving withheld Sandy aid as political payback, as well as accusations of uneven and inappropriate distribution of recovery funds. This could have a more significant long-term impact than the Fort Lee lane closing scandal that opened Christie’s second term.”

While Sandy job approval has taken a big hit, Christie’s favorability rating (49 percent favorable to 40 percent unfavorable) is statistically unchanged from January’s 46 to 43 percent rating. Overall job approval is also stable at 55 percent; 39 percent disapprove, versus 53-41 six weeks ago.

“Positive views of Christie’s Sandy performance kept his overall ratings high throughout 2013,” noted Redlawsk. “The decline in Sandy approval has returned Christie to the pre-Sandy status quo, when about half of voters supported him and the other half did not or was unsure.”

The double-digit descent in Christie’s Sandy rating is heavily influenced by the 45 percent of voters who believe the administration withheld Sandy aid from some mayors in retaliation for not receiving their re-election support. Just 41 percent of voters think the allegations are false, while another 13 percent are uncertain.

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 22 to 28. Within this sample are 729 registered voters reported upon in this release, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Christie’s Sandy support erodes

Where Christie once enjoyed across-the-board approval for his post-Sandy leadership, divisions have opened. A majority of Democrats no longer praises the governor: just 46 percent now approve his efforts, down 15 points during the past six weeks. Disapproval has jumped to 47 percent of Democrats. But support is also eroding among independents and Republicans. Fifty-four percent of independents continue to approve of Christie’s Sandy work, down 17 points from January. Republican approval dropped a surprising 13 points, to 69 percent.

Approval of Christie’s Sandy performance was once so strong that even those with an overall unfavorable impression were supportive. That is no longer true. One-third of voters unfavorable toward Christie now approve of how he has handled Sandy recovery, down 18 points from 51 percent approval in January. Nearly two-thirds of this group now disapproves.
Christie still does well among voters with a favorable overall impression, with almost three-quarters approving his work on Sandy, but this too is down, by 15 points in the last six weeks.

“When even Republicans show eroding support of a key Christie selling point – his management of the largest natural disaster to hit the state – things are not going well, even if overall favorability ratings look stable for now,” said Redlawsk.

Among the recent Sandy-related allegations against the administration have been claims that benefits were withheld from towns where Democratic mayors failed to endorse Christie’s re-election; 45 percent of voters believe these to be true. Among those voters, only 38 percent approve the governor’s performance on Sandy, while 54 percent disapprove. Those who do not believe the claims strongly support Christie’s Sandy work: 73 percent approve, while 17 percent disapprove.

All this may boil down to partisan preferences since beliefs about the allegations themselves are heavily divided by partisanship: two-thirds of Democrats say Christie’s administration withheld the funds purposely, versus seven in 10 Republicans who say the opposite. Independents are evenly split on the question – 43 percent (true) and 42 percent (false).

Bridgegate continues to roil New Jersey voters

The division over Sandy performance parallels views on the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal. Just over half of voters suspect Christie had knowledge of his advisers’ actions in the closures, while 44 percent do not. Only 16 percent fully believe the governor’s Jan. 9 press conference explanation regarding Bridgegate, down from the 22 percent who said this in January.

Another 35 percent say they somewhat believe Christie; 44 percent do not believe him at all. In January, 32 percent somewhat believed the governor, and 42 percent did not.

Democrats are most apt to say it is very unlikely Christie did not know of his staff’s actions (51 percent), as well as to disbelieve Christie’s explanation at all (64 percent). Republicans are more supportive: 31 percent say it is somewhat likely and 32 percent say it is very likely Christie was unaware. Just over a third of Republicans fully believe his explanation, while another 41 percent somewhat believes it.

Voters who cross the George Washington Bridge at least once a week are more likely than less frequent bridge users to think Christie was unaware: 47 percent think it is very unlikely Christie did not know about the plan, and 52 percent do not believe at all the governor’s explanation.

Asked about the investigation, 38 percent say the state Legislature should continue its effort, but another 30 percent say it should defer to the U.S. Attorney. Almost a quarter says no investigation is needed.

More than half of Democrats want the Democratically-controlled Legislature to continue its efforts while 27 percent say the U.S. Attorney should take over. Twelve percent say no investigation is needed. Forty percent of Republicans say all investigations should be ended, while 31 percent say the U.S. Attorney should take the lead. Twenty percent support the Legislature continuing its probe. Independents are more split, with just over a quarter preferring no investigation at all and a third siding with each of the other options. Surprisingly, 37 percent of those who cross the George Washington Bridge at least once a week say no further investigation is necessary, although a plurality (40 percent) would prefer the state to continue.

Despite challenges, most Christie voters would stick by him

Even with the developing scandals, New Jerseyans are nowhere near ready to trade in their governor. Just one in five voters think Christie should resign in the face of the investigations, but nearly three-quarters says he should stay in office. Even Democrats are not calling for the governor’s head; just a third says he should resign. Just over three-quarters of independents and 92 percent of Republicans say Christie should remain in office.

Almost 90 percent of Christie voters say they would still vote for the governor if they had the chance to vote again. But this does not mean most would vote for him for president. Christie still trails former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 41 percent to 51 percent, in a 2016 New Jersey head-to-head matchup, although this is a significant improvement from his 34 to 55 percent deficit in January. Asked to name the one person they most want to see as the next president, Christie comes in a distant second to Clinton, drawing fewer than half of the mentions she does.

On issues other than Sandy, Christie’s ratings have remained divided. Just over four in 10 approve his work on the economy and taxes and almost half approve his performance on education.

“In the end, Governor Christie still has a solid base of support among New Jersey voters, even if it is no longer at the record levels we once saw,” said Redlawsk. “In retrospect, it was always unreasonable to expect his post-Sandy ratings would last forever, though we never anticipated how they would fall. Christie’s future may now depend on how well he can pivot to issues that have helped him in the past, including his recent focus on public worker pensions and health care costs. Many New Jerseyans remain happy to stay in his corner, at least for now.”

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Note:  On Monday we reported results in conjunction with polls done by Siena and Roanoke where we all ran a group of the same questions across three states. In that release, Christie is shown with a 48%-40% favorability rating in NJ. Today’s release reports a 49%-40% rating. Why the difference? It is because the other two centers combine “refusals” into the “don’t know” category, where we routinely drop them out. There were 3 respondents in this poll who refused to answer the Christie favorability question. Taking them out as we normally do rounds the favorable number up to 49% instead of down to 48%. But the joint report on Monday included the approach used by Siena and Roanoke. Today’s report reverts to our normal approach so we can compare to the past. These numbers are estimates, of course, with a margin of error, and the difference is meaningless in terms of substance.

 

 

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Filed under 2016 President, Bridgegate, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Superstorm Sandy

Results of a Joint Poll with Siena and Roanoke Released Today

Over the last week we carried out our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of New Jersey with an interesting twist. In conjunction with two other statewide academic polling centers we fielded a large set of the same questions to respondents in our respective states. Today we release the results in a lengthy report that summarizes the interesting differences and similarities between the three states of New York (Siena Research Institute), Virginia (Roanoke Institute for Policy and Opinion Research) and Rutgers-Eagleton. The report speaks pretty much for itself, but if you want to see the full set of questions and crosstabs for all three institutions, you can find them here.

For a PDF of this release with the New Jersey tables and crosstabs, click here.

Full text of the release follows.

Roanoke/Rutgers-Eagleton/Siena College Study:  Simultaneous Polls – Virginia, New Jersey, New York
Majority in 3 States Favorable on Hillary Clinton; Give Former Sec of State 2016 Lead over Christie, Paul & Ryan

Voters in NJ, NY & Virginia in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage, National Gun Registry, Keystone Pipeline, Minimum Wage Hike, Med Marijuana; States Mixed on Obamacare, Unemployment Extension

Cuomo Stronger in NY than Christie in Jersey or McAuliffe in Virginia

NY & NJ Voters see Global Climate Change; Virginians Mixed

Loudonville, NY; New Brunswick, NJ; Roanoke, VA. – A majority of voters in New York (64 percent), New Jersey (59 percent) and Virginia (56 percent) have a favorable view of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and name her most often in each state as the one eligible person that they would most like to see as the next President according to simultaneous identical polls conducted by Roanoke College in Virginia, Rutgers-Eagleton in New Jersey and Siena College in New York.  In early 2016 Presidential horseraces in each state, Clinton tops New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Paul Ryan by over 35 points in New York, 8 (Christie) to 14 (Paul) points in Virginia and even leads Christie by 10 in New Jersey while up there by 25 to 29 over Ryan and Paul.

“It’s early, very early, but in these three states worth 56 of 270 electoral votes needed to win, Hillary Clinton is well-liked, the top choice by margins of 4 or 5 to one in New York and Virginia and named more than twice as often in Governor Christie’s home state.  Head to head, she is untouchable in New York, has majorities in New Jersey and a lead in the potential battleground state of Virginia over not only two lesser known Republican hopefuls, Paul and Ryan, but over Christie who can no longer muster 50 percent favorable in any of the three states,” according to Don Levy, Director of the Siena College Research Institute.

Asked to vote in favor of or opposed to 12 national initiatives, a majority of voters in all three states support seven and oppose one.  Overwhelming majorities are in favor of raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour; legalizing the use of marijuana in all 50 states for medical purposes; approving a path to citizenship for people who are in the U.S. illegally, but are working, have no criminal record and pay taxes; approving the Keystone Pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the U.S.; using federal funds to make free Pre-Kindergarten education available to all children; and establishing a national gun registry.

Legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states is strongly supported in New Jersey and New York while Virginians are in favor by 53 to 40 percent.  Large majorities, greatest in Virginia, oppose allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to tap domestic phone lines in the interest of national security.

SNAG-002

“We tend to spend more time focusing on how voters differ across states, but here we find that despite differences in geography, racial and religious makeup, and partisanship, there is more agreement than not in these three states on seven current issues. Apparently voters share more opinions than the media leads us to believe with their focus on a hyper partisan world,” according to David Redlawsk, Director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

“Given a huge disparity in gun ownership rates – half in Virginia compared to one in seven in the two northern states – the much smaller differences on support for a national gun registry are surprising.  Virginians are less supportive of stricter gun laws, but those differences are relatively small. New York and New Jersey have much tougher restrictions on guns and gun owners; perhaps those differences are a factor in shaping opinion,” according to Harry Wilson, Director of Roanoke’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research.

On four current issues – the Affordable Care Act, abortion, standardized testing and an extension for unemployment benefits – the voters of New Jersey, New York and Virginia do not speak with the same decisiveness nor the same mind.  Given the opportunity to vote in these polls on repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a majority of Virginians are in favor, a small majority of New Jerseyans agree, but a similarly small majority of New Yorkers oppose repeal.  On two other current hot button issues, both New York and New Jersey support both reinstituting unemployment benefits beyond the initial 26 weeks of coverage and to a lesser degree, using nationally standardized tests to assess the quality of public schools, while in Virginia, both issues find voters split.

The one issue on which voters of each state are closely divided is making abortion illegal 20 weeks after conception, a proposal currently being advanced by some in Congress.  Voters in all three states lean towards opposing this measure, but only in Virginia does opposition reach beyond the margin of error and in no instant does opposition reach 50 percent.

“While voters in these three states agree on and endorse initiatives covering a wide range of issues – same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, the Keystone Pipeline and the minimum wage – voters both within these three states and across borders cannot come to any consensus on some of the key issues that are drawing the political battle lines today including abortion, Obamacare and unemployment benefits.  In fact, asked whether the greatest problem we face today is too much government or income inequality, New Yorkers say ‘it’s inequality,’ Virginians say ‘too much government’ and New Jersey is split,” Levy notes.

“Another line in the sand is climate change.  New Jersey and New York emphatically say that they think that the major storms that have hit the East Coast over the last two years are the result of global climate change while Virginians are not convinced,” Wilson adds.

Rating the Governors, States and Country

Of the three Governors, Andrew Cuomo in New York, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, Cuomo has the strongest favorability ranking in his own state at 59 to 34 percent followed by McAuliffe’s 47 to 33 percent and Christie’s 48 to 40 percent.  Away from their home state, Christie is best known but gets breakeven favorable/unfavorable scores in both New York and Virginia.  McAuliffe, the Governor with the shortest tenure, is little known outside of Virginia while Cuomo is seen favorably in New Jersey, 47 to 19 percent but is neither well known nor popular in Virginia at 27 to 33 percent.

Another point of agreement across these three states is that voters say that the country is headed in the wrong direction rather than being on the right track by nearly identical scores – NJ 56/32, NY 54/36, Virginia 59/32.  And when asked to assess the direction of their own state, voters are more positive about their home than the nation but no state makes it to 50 percent saying ‘right track.’  While Virginians are guardedly optimistic at 47 percent right track to 40 percent wrong direction, New Yorkers and New Jerseyans lean negatively.

SNAG-001

“Still, given a chance to vote with their feet when asked across all three states to choose where they would most like to live, a large majority – ninety percent in Virginia, two-thirds in New York and almost six in ten in New Jersey, say, despite any warts, home is sweet home.  Among those with a wandering eye, Virginia calls most loudly as a quarter of both New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are ready to head south,” Redlawsk added.

“Whether we describe our politics as hyper-partisan, divided or gridlocked, this three-state study shows that large majorities of voters from New Jersey, New York and Virginia agree on many issues.  Still, given their sobering agreement on the country currently moving in the wrong direction, they appear more frustrated than optimistic.  At the same time, on some issues including Obamacare, the role of government and abortion, deep divides are evident.  The 2016 Presidential election is a political eternity away.  While some of the issues in this study may be decided by then, it is more likely that Hillary Clinton and the other candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, will need to address both the areas of agreement as well as those on which Americans disagree when the campaign heats up.”

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Filed under Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Education, Gay Marriage, Gun Control, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Immigration, Obama NJ Rating, President Obama