About that YouGov Survey on NJ Being the Most Disliked … A Look at NJ Pride and What Makes the Garden State Great

We end this round of press releases from our latest poll with a little bit of a tribute to the great Garden State as we approach the end of summer.  Back around this past Fourth of July, YouGov released a “State of the States” survey, which found New Jersey to be the least liked state in the nation; Americans were more likely to have an unfavorable opinion of New Jersey (at 40 percent) than a favorable one (at 30 percent) – the only state in the nation about which Americans had net negative views.

So we wanted to give New Jerseyans the chance to “respond,” tell us what life in the Garden State is really like, and say just how much Jersey pride they have and why.  New Jerseyans across the board definitely have Jersey pride, and they love all the things that make the Garden State unique – it’s location, proximity to the city, and its shoreline.

See you back in the fall!

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

NEW JERSEY TO REST OF U.S.: WE’RE PROUD OF OUR STATE; LOCATION, BEACHES, QUALITY OF LIFE MAKE JERSEY GREAT

Residents concerned with state’s “bum rap” but say New Jersey is a good place to live

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – From the Skylands to the tip of Cape May, residents of the Garden State are proud to live in New Jersey, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. More than three-quarters of New Jerseyans say they take pride in living here, including 56 percent who exhibit “a lot” of pride. Conversely, only 18 percent say they feel little or no pride about living in New Jersey.

This pride abounds despite concern about how New Jersey is viewed by outsiders. Fifty-seven percent of residents believe New Jersey has a negative image outside of the state, while 35 percent think the state has a positive image; 5 percent say it has a little of both.

Asked in particular about a recent YouGov survey that called New Jersey the most disliked state in the nation, residents are mixed about how much it matters: 26 percent think it matters a lot, 27 percent say some, 14 percent a little, and 33 percent not at all.

Nevertheless, six in 10 New Jerseyans see the Garden State as an excellent or good place to live while three in 10 say it is only fair, and just one in 10 say poor. Moreover, most residents believe the state is as good a place to live as any other: just 23 percent say New Jersey is a worse place to live compared to other states, while 39 percent say it is the same, and 33 percent say it is better.

“In July’s national YouGov survey, New Jersey was the only state about which the rest of America was more negative than positive,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “So we wanted to get New Jerseyans’ take on their own state and to find out how much ‘Jersey pride’ residents have and the reasons they might find New Jersey a great place to live.”

Allegiance to the Garden State stems from the features residents love most. Most important is the state’s location, convenience, and proximity to places like New York and Philadelphia, at 17 percent of New Jerseyans. Following close behind, at 16 percent, is access to the shore, beach, and ocean. Eleven percent of New Jerseyans reference the general quality of life.

“Where else can you be an hour away from two of the biggest cities in the country, as well as the shore – not to mention the variety of scenery, seasons, and culture in between?” said Koning.

Results are from a statewide poll of 867 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from July 25 to August 1. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Plenty of Jersey pride, praise for Jersey living

Jersey pride is widespread, though some residents show more than others. Women (60 percent), nonwhites (62 percent), senior citizens (64 percent), and those in the lowest income range (63 percent) are more likely than their counterparts to express a lot of pride. Those living in urban areas are much prouder than residents in any other region: 70 percent say they take a lot of pride in being a New Jersey resident. Those in the south near Philadelphia have the least pride by comparison, at 47 percent.

Almost all New Jerseyans who rate the state as an excellent place to live also have lots of pride. Even those concerned about the state’s image and what outsiders think are proud. Pride grows with time spent in the state: 60 percent of those who have lived here virtually their entire lives say they take a lot of pride in being a New Jerseyan, and another 26 percent take some pride.

Contentment with New Jersey as a place to live is likewise prevalent across most groups. Exurbanites, living in northwest New Jersey, are most likely to say the Garden State is an excellent place to live, at 30 percent; southern dwellers are again least likely, at 10 percent. Jersey pride also has a positive effect on rating New Jersey’s livability. Relative newcomers to the state are a bit less likely to rate New Jersey as highly as those who have lived here for a while, yet when it comes to comparing New Jersey to other states, this same group is most likely to say New Jersey is better than or about the same as other states.

Greater concern about state’s image among some groups

Despite their accolades for New Jersey, many residents are nonetheless concerned about how outsiders view the Garden State. White residents (65 percent), those 50 to 64 years old (66 percent), those in higher income brackets (70 percent) and those who have done graduate work (68 percent) are more likely to believe New Jersey is viewed negatively by outsiders.

Perception of New Jersey’s negative image also increases with years spent in state: 62 percent of those who have remained in New Jersey their entire lives believe the state is viewed negatively, while a majority of those who have been state residents the shortest feel the opposite.

Belief that New Jersey has a negative image is more common among those who take less pride in the state, as well as among those who are more negative about New Jersey as a place to live.

In general, New Jersey residents are mixed on the extent to which the views of other Americans matter. Exurbanites appear to be more concerned than those in any other area about the state’s outward appearance, with 61 percent saying it matters at least somewhat what others think. Concern grows among those with negative views on living in New Jersey. It is also concentrated most among relative newcomers to the state – interestingly enough, the group most hopeful about New Jersey’s image.

“The overall positive feelings New Jerseyans have about their home is in direct contrast with the negativity they perceive from outsiders,” noted Koning. “And this concern about what other Americans think comes from New Jerseyans of all stripes, not just those who are more negative about New Jersey themselves.”

What makes the Garden State great

New Jersey is all about “location, location, location”: residents cite the unique ability to be near the city, countryside, and shoreline all at the same time as their most favorite thing about the state. The beach and general quality of life are second and third most named.

Beyond the top three, 8 percent of all New Jerseyans mention something about the state’s diversity and variety as a reason for their positive feelings. Six percent love New Jersey for its outdoors – including its parks, farmland, open spaces and Garden State reputation. The same number say family is their favorite thing about New Jersey, as well as the weather and changing seasons. Five percent mention something about the people in the state, while another 3 percent cite their community and something positive about the state economy and job opportunities. Even a few mention not having to pump their own gas.

White residents, those with higher incomes or more education and those living in northern New Jersey are more likely than others to say something about proximity and easy access to cities than are others. Not surprisingly, shore county residents are far more likely to name the beach as why they love the state (at 40 percent) compared to elsewhere.

Nonwhite, urban and lower-income residents are more likely than others to mention the general quality of life in the Garden State. Those who rate New Jersey as better than or the same as other states are also more likely to mention this than those who say the state is comparatively worse. State pride and perceived image show similar patterns.

“Residents certainly know all that New Jersey has to offer, which is most likely a lot more than casual passersby realize when they fly over the smokestacks and congested highways,” said Koning. “New Jerseyans love all the things – including living up to its nickname – that make the Garden State wonderfully unique.”

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