By Sonni Waknin
Sonni Waknin is a General Research Intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a sophomore at Rutgers University.
Our incredible student staff at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling has been hard at work analyzing some data that we have not yet had the chance to report on from some of our most recent polls. We will be rolling out these additional analytical pieces over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
With the 2014 midterms now over, many Americans look forward to the end of election season. But election season never really ends for politicians. Every day, our country is inching closer toward the 2016 presidential race, and many politicians are gearing up to throw their hats in the ring for the nomination on both sides of the aisle. While Hillary Clinton has not yet formally announced her candidacy, many believe that she will become the Democratic front-runner for the nomination. If Clinton does announce her intent to run, it will most likely not be an uphill battle for her – at least not in New Jersey. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that Clinton’s favorability is high among New Jersey voters, at 58 percent – higher than any other politician in the state; another 29 percent of voters find Clinton unfavorable, while 14 percent have no opinion or did not know of former Secretary of State Clinton.
As of just a few months ago, Clinton’s overall favorability was on a downward trend starting from March (at 59 percent) through to August (at 54 percent) after a 65 percent high in January 2014. But once again, it seems Clinton’s numbers are making a comeback with these latest results.
While Clinton’s rating is high, there is – unsurprisingly – a very large partisan divide. Democrats are extremely favorable towards their party’s potential future candidate: 83 percent have a favorable impression, versus just 6 percent who do not; 10 percent are unsure or do not know Clinton, the lowest of any party. Republicans, in contrast, have an overwhelmingly unfavorable opinion of Clinton – 68 percent, compared to just 20 percent of Republicans who feel favorably toward her; 13 percent either say they do not know her or are unsure. Independents are somewhere in between: over half have a favorable impression of Clinton. Likewise, about two-thirds of those who identify as ideologically moderate are favorable of Clinton – another “plus” for the former Secretary of State if she decides to run since about a third of Americans identify as moderate (see here for more details).
Although Clinton’s favorability in New Jersey is starkly divided among party lines and ideology, Clinton is seen mostly favorably across many other groups. Both men and women are favorable towards Clinton, although the percentage is higher among women – 63 percent to 52 percent of men. Over half of both whites and non-whites have a favorable impression of Clinton. The same goes across all age groups, with some differences in degree; Clinton’s favorability is highest among those 50-64 years old (at 61 percent) and lowest among those 30-49 years old (53 percent).
In terms of region, shore and exurban residents give Clinton the lowest favorability ratings of all residents: 49 percent among the former, and 47 percent among the latter.
Within New Jersey, Hillary Clinton is held in high esteem. Clinton has higher favorability ratings among New Jerseyans than Governor Chris Christie, Senator Cory Booker, and even President Barack Obama. With 2016 in the near future, it will be interesting to see what happens – particularly if Clinton decides to run. If so, it seems many New Jerseyans would support Clinton – particularly her Democratic base and independents. In an age where approval and favorability ratings among politicians continue to be abysmal, it is an anomaly to find Clinton polling so highly across almost all demographics.
Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, 2014. This release reports on a subsample of 734 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.