As we gear up for our next Rutgers-Eagleton Poll – the big 200th in 44 years of polling New Jersey! – our student staff takes a closer look at some of the data from our October survey that we have not yet had a chance to fully explore. This one addresses Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno’s (lack of) name recognition.
While Gov. Christie is a National Name, Lt. Gov. Guadagno Fails to Make Waves at Home
By Sonni Waknin
Sonni Waknin is a junior at Rutgers University. Sonni is the lead poll historian and a research associate with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
Some local and state politicians are not very well known by their citizens. For example, while most New Jersey voters know of Gov. Chris Christie, very few recognize or have an opinion on other high-level politicians in the state – such as Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno. Guadagno has served with Christie for over five years, yet has not cultivated any name recognition with New Jersey voters despite acting as governor almost as much as Christie has in the past year alone.
An October 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found that 67 percent of New Jersey voters either do not know who the Lieutenant Governor is or have no opinion of her. When New Jerseyans do have an opinion on Guadagno, 19 percent are favorable and 14 percent are unfavorable toward the Lieutenant Governor.
Unsurprisingly, there is a partisan divide when it comes to Guadagno’s favorability, with more Republicans than Democrats holding a favorable view of the Lieutenant Governor. About one third of Republicans are favorable toward her, as opposed to only 9 percent of Democrats; independents are much more favorable than Democrats, at 19 percent. About one in ten Republicans are unfavorable, compared to about one fifth of Democrats. But Guadagno is overwhelmingly unknown by at least half of Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike. The number of those who do not know or have an opinion of Guadagno is especially high for independents and Democrats, at around 70 percent.
When viewing Guadagno’s favorability by gender, women are 4 percent less likely to have a favorable view of the Lieutenant Governor than men, 17 to 21 percent. Also, slightly fewer men find Guadagno unfavorable at 13 percent, compared to 14 percent of women. Again, most do not know or have an opinion of Guadagno regardless of their gender.
Looking at Guadagno’s favorability by age, the Lieutenant Governor appears to become more favorable and more well-known with older voters. Only 12 percent of those 18-34 find Guadagno favorable. This number practically doubles among residents 35-49 and 50-64 years old – to 20 percent and 24 percent favorable, respectively. However, Guadagno’s favorability dips for New Jerseyans 65 and older to 17 percent favorable.
In every category, a majority New Jersey voters, regardless of party, age, gender, or even race, do not know who Lt. Gov. Guadagno is. It is hard for New Jerseyans to have an opinion of Guadagno because she has not had a very public presence in the state. Guadagno’s low numbers may also be because Christie himself is such a large personality that it is hard for Guadagno to become a name on her own. Christie’s own favorability rating moreover may have something to do with how the Lt. Governor is perceived by voters. It should be important to New Jersey voters who their Lt. Governor is, because when Christie is out of state – which is often these days – the Lt. Governor is the acting governor. Guadagno should try to make herself more well known in the state, given that she has taken a very active role in the administration while Christie has been campaigning for president. And of course, the 2017 gubernatorial race is only two years away; if Guadagno hopes to be a contender, she does not have long to build her name recognition.