We turn today to beleaguered Atlantic City today. We asked a few questions about the appointment of an emergency manager announced by Gov. Christie last month. While some political players have criticized the move, it turns out that the New Jersey public is in sync with the governor on this one. Nearly 60 percent favor the move, while 35 percent oppose it.
The full text of the release follows. Click here or a PDF of the release, with text, questions, and tables.
ATLANTIC CITY FUTURE LOOKS DIM ALTHOUGH NEW JERSEYANS AGREE
STATE NEEDS TO SUPPLY HELP
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Despite backlash from state and city officials, and credit rating agencies, 57 percent of New Jerseyans – a solid majority – agree with last month’s appointment of an emergency management team to assist in solving Atlantic City’s financial issues. Thirty-five percent think Atlantic City should be left to handle these issues on its own, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Seven percent remain unsure.
Support for the decision remains high, regardless if the decision was said to have been made by “Gov. Chris Christie,” the main target of criticism for doing so, or by the “New Jersey government,” the poll finds.
Even with the appointment of the emergency manager, respondents believe Atlantic City’s future remains bleak. Sixty-three percent say the resort town’s best days are behind it, while just 25 percent believe they are yet to come – virtually unchanged since an October 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Moreover, just 38 percent of New Jerseyans report having visited the resort town in the past 12 months, down slightly from the 43 percent who had done so in the October poll.
“Despite supporting the appointment of the emergency manager, New Jerseyans remain skeptical about Atlantic City’s future,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “This is one recent decision by Gov. Christie that has a solid majority of residents behind it.”
Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, with a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in both English and, when requested, Spanish.
Interest highest among those with Atlantic City connections
While Atlantic City’s financial crisis has been widely reported in the state, residents do not appear to be paying much attention. Just 11 percent say they have heard a lot about the emergency management team put in place, 27 percent say they have heard some, 28 percent say a little, and 34 percent say nothing at all.
Attention paid seems to influence responses. New Jerseyans most familiar with the story are least likely to support Christie’s action: 56 percent agree, while 43 percent say Atlantic City should handle things on its own. Those who have heard little about the issue are most likely to agree with the state sending in an emergency management team (at 62 percent).
Shore residents are slightly more likely than others to have heard a lot (15 percent). Urbanites are the least likely to have heard anything; 47 percent say they have heard nothing at all. Visitors to the resort city within the past year are also more likely to be paying attention compared to those who have not.
Broad support for Christie order
Christie’s executive order temporarily implementing an emergency manager in Atlantic City receives high support across most demographic groups, even those who otherwise are negative about the governor. The decision cuts across political partisanship: 61 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents and 59 percent of Republicans agree with Christie’s course of action.
Millennials – residents under 30 – tend to be stronger supporters than those 65 or older, 67 percent to 53 percent. Similarly, residents with household incomes under $100,000 are stronger backers than wealthier respondents, 63 percent to 52 percent.
Support for Christie’s action does not raise a significant gender gap. Fifty-five percent of men and 60 percent of women favor the move. Also, while still majorities, fewer suburbanites (51 percent) and exurbanites (54 percent) support the appointment of an emergency management team. More than 60 percent of New Jerseyans from all other regions approve of the action.
Those who are more optimistic about Atlantic City’s future are more likely to support the state stepping in to help. Three-quarters of those who believe the resort town’s best days are yet to come support the state’s decision to help compared to about half of those who think the city’s best days are behind it. Both Christie supporters and detractors approve the action, at 60 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
Recent Atlantic City visitors are also more likely to support the emergency management team than those who have not visited within a year, 68 percent to 51 percent.
“Two schools of thought seem to be developing about Atlantic City,” said Redlawsk. “Those who have recently visited and those who see a brighter future want to see the state help make things better. But those who already have written off the city are much less likely to see state action as worthwhile.”
Atlantic City’s future looks dim to most
With few exceptions, New Jerseyans across the board believe Atlantic City’s best days are behind it. Those who have heard little or nothing about the emergency management team hired to help fix Atlantic City’s financial crisis look slightly more favorably upon the destination’s future. But residents who are better informed of the move see the city’s best days in the past (at 69 percent).
By a 33 percent to 13 percent margin, supporters of Christie’s decision are more likely than detractors to see a brighter future for the resort. A majority from both groups still sees the town’s best days mostly in the past. Even recent visitors share similarly bleak opinions with their counterparts; 29 percent say bright days are ahead, compared to 22 percent of those who have not visited in the last year.