Monthly Archives: January 2016

Eagleton in Iowa: The Countdown to the Caucus is On!!

Since last August, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling Director David Redlawsk has been in Iowa, studying the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses, following up on work he and colleagues did in 2007-08 for the book Why Iowa?. The Iowa Caucuses, which will kick off the actual voting in the presidential nominating campaign will be held February 1, at 7pm CST. The New Hampshire primary follows 8 days later. Historically these two events have been played an outsized role in the success and failure of candidates seeking the nomination

What follows is another in our occasional series of posts from him about his experiences and about the campaigns for president. Some of these posts were originally published on the Drake University Caucus Blog; Dave is in residence as a Fellow at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. In addition to these posts, he is tweeting @DavidRedlawsk as he attends events and watches the process unfold. Dave’s time in Iowa is coming to a close; he’ll return to Rutgers after February 2.

Trump, Sanders could be changing Iowa

This post was first published January 27, 2016 in USA Today. In it, Dave ponders how the Iowa caucus may have evolved from the “quaint” process of election cycles past to something more mainstream as Iowans focus on national issues and candidates like Trump and Sanders.

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Political junkies from Beijing to Buenos Aires will be turning their attention Monday night to places like Keokuk and Maquoketa. That’s when the lightly populated Midwestern state of Iowa will kick off the 2016 presidential election campaign at neighborhood caucuses.

As in 2008, both parties have wide open contests and intensely competitive campaigns. Iowa voters — who despite their political image are highly unlikely to be farmers — will be the first to start sorting the candidates …

Read the rest of the column here.

 

 

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … The NJ State Legislature

It’s a new semester at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, and as we gear up for our next Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, our student staff continues to take a closer look at some of the data from last semester’s surveys that we have not yet had a chance to fully explore. This time, one of our staff takes a deeper dive into numbers on the state Legislature.

Who Knows? Examining Favorability of the NJ State Legislature

By Robert Cartmell

Robert Cartmell is a senior at Rutgers University. Robert leads the data visualization and graphic representation team for the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

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According to an October 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, the New Jersey state Legislature appears to have a problem – a recognition problem. The Legislature is viewed favorably by only 27 percent of registered voters in the Garden State, but this low rating does not mean the rest of voters are necessarily unfavorable (36 percent express a negative view). Instead, the real issue is that 37 percent of voters either have “no opinion” or “don’t know” enough about the Legislature to form one. Therefore, while voters are more unfavorable than favorable toward the Legislature, a significant portion of the New Jersey electorate simply does not have a clue about the legislative body … or cares.

Certain demographics are less likely to know or have an opinion about the Legislature than others. Breaking down the population into different age groups is particularly illustrative. Most age groups are pretty much just as likely to be favorable toward the Legislature as they are unfavorable. For millennials, 24 percent are favorable versus 24 percent who are unfavorable; among those 30 to 49 years old, 30 percent are favorable versus 32 percent who are unfavorable; and for those 65 and older, 35 percent are favorable versus 32 percent who are unfavorable. But voters 50 to 64 years old tend to feel significantly more negative – 48 percent are unfavorable, compared to 20 percent who are favorable.

Most interesting is the percentage of voters in each age group who say “no opinion” or “don’t know.” There is almost a linear relationship between this response and age, with younger respondents being more likely than older respondents to say that they have no opinion or don’t know: 52 percent of 18 to 29 year olds, 38 percent of 30 to 49 year olds, 32 percent of 50 to 64 year olds, and 33 percent of those 65 or older give this ambivalent response. It appears that younger generations do not pay as much attention to local or state politics as compared to older age groups. Even among older voters, however, the percentage of those who have no opinion is the most frequent response, with the exception of those ages 50 to 64. This suggests that the Legislature should be concerned about its lack of recognition with most voters, but especially those who are the newest to the electorate – and will be sticking around the longest.

Partisanship also reveals some differences in opinions about the New Jersey state Legislature. Among Democrats, 29 percent are favorable toward the Legislature, while 26 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of independents are favorable. Thirty-three percent of Democrats, 38 percent of independents, and 42 percent of Republicans are unfavorable. Thus, we see – unsurprisingly – that New Jersey Republicans feel much less favorably toward the state Legislature than Democrats, while independents fall somewhere in the middle.

Partisans of all stripes, however, are roughly equally likely to respond that they have no opinion or don’t know about the state Legislature: 38 percent of Democrats, 33 percent of Republicans, and 42 percent of independents say this. Again, we see that Democrats and independents are more likely to have no opinion or not know, while Republicans are only slightly more likely to say they are unfavorable than express uncertainty. The Legislature’s recognition problem therefore reaches across party lines. While Republicans are the most negative and independents are the most unaware, lack of opinion on the Legislature does not completely boil down to a simple matter of partisan identification. Instead, the issue is much more widespread.

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Eagleton in Iowa: Presidential Candidate 1st Day Promises Doom Voters to Disappointment

Since last August, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling Director David Redlawsk has been in Iowa, studying the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses, following up on work he and colleagues did in 2007-08 for the book Why Iowa?. The Iowa Caucuses, which will kick off the actual voting in the presidential nominating campaign will be held February 1, at 7pm CST. The New Hampshire primary follows 8 days later. Historically these two events have been played an outsized role in the success and failure of candidates seeking the nomination

What follows is another in our occasional series of posts from him about his experiences and about the campaigns for president. Some of these posts were originally published on the Drake University Caucus Blog; Dave is in residence as a Fellow at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. In addition to these posts, he is tweeting @DavidRedlawsk as he attends events and watches the process unfold. Dave’s time in Iowa is coming to a close; he’ll return to Rutgers after February 2.


Candidate’s first-day promises? Doomed to disappoint

This post was first published January 13, 2016 in the Des Moines Register newspaper. In it, Dave writes about the claims candidates make about what they are going to do – apparently all by themselves – once they win.

The story goes that, as delegates were leaving the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government its members had designed. Franklin is reported to have said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

And so they had. The Constitution did not create a system where one ruler can govern by fiat. Nor did it create a pure democracy, where the masses decide everything. Instead, we got a republic designed to ensure the passions of the people at any given time do not override either good policy or minority rights. We got a government designed to work slowly and incrementally, responsive to the results of elections, but not so responsive as to be whipsawed any time “the people” changed their minds…

Read the rest of the column here.

 

A few weeks ago Dave also wrote a column on the nature of the Iowa caucuses as more broad based than most think, they are not creatures of the extremes as one candidate has claimed.

 

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Happy New Year from the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll!

It’s been another whirlwind year here at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, which culminated in our 200th Rutgers-Eagleton Poll this past month. In the spirit of tradition as we near the end of this holiday season, we are continuing our own tradition of reflecting on our top results of the past twelve months.

2015 proved to be an unprecedented year for politics in New Jersey and nationwide, but conversation was not necessarily focused on politics in the present; instead, the 2016 presidential election took center stage, as Donald Trump soared to the top as the GOP frontrunner. The 2016 election has hit especially close to home for Garden Staters as our own Gov. Chris Christie officially took to the campaign trail this past summer and has battled his way to become a top tier contender in New Hampshire.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll explored several topics about 2016, Gov. Christie, and more this past year, so with another year coming to a close, and as we raise a toast to 2016, here is a look back at five of what we consider to be our top New Jersey polling stories of 2015 …

 

5.) Life in the great Garden State: a lot of pride, but a lot of room for improvement

New Jerseyans had mixed feelings about their home state in 2015: when bullied, residents stood up for New Jersey and took a lot of pride in living here (56 percent said “a lot” of pride back in August), citing the state’s location, proximity, and convenience to major cities, and of course the famous Jersey shore, as the features they love most. About six in ten New Jerseyans called the state a good or excellent place to live, in general. But residents were far more negative about other aspects of the state than they had been in a long time. Assessments of the state’s direction have been more negative than positive since March 2014: about six in 10 have consistently said the Garden State has been off on the wrong track this past year, with the gap between right direction and wrong track widening within the last months of 2015. This is a complete reversal from two years ago, with this kind of negativity on state direction not felt since October 2009. And while majorities believed New Jersey was a good or excellent place to raise a family, get an education, or enjoy entertainment and recreation, 63 percent said job prospects were fair or poor, 55 percent said the same about running a business, and 79 percent rated the state fair or poor when it came to retirement. Overall, New Jerseyans believed that the state had either become a worse place to live (41 percent) or had not changed at all (37 percent) in the last five or ten years; only 17 percent said it had gotten better. Nevertheless, residents were somewhat optimistic when asked about New Jersey’s future: 32 percent thought the state would become a better place to live in the next five or 10 years, while another 38 percent said it would stay the same, and 20 percent said life here would become worse.

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

NEW JERSEYANS REMAIN MIXED ABOUT GARDEN STATE’S QUALITY OF LIFE; IT’S A GOOD PLACE TO LIVE, BUT NOT TO LOOK FOR WORK OR RETIRE

 

4.) At a crossroads with transportation: the gas tax, a depleted Transportation Trust Fund, and crumbling bridges and tunnels

The Transportation Trust Fund in New Jersey is about to go broke, and a gas tax increase seems all but inevitable as the primary funding solution. But a gas tax hike continued to be a “non-starter” with New Jerseyans throughout 2015, despite being aware of how badly road repairs and maintenance are needed. As of October 2015, 37 percent of New Jerseyans supported a gas tax increase, compared with 57 percent who did not, a slightly more negative turn since the issue was previously polled in February. There was virtually no change when residents were told the revenue would be dedicated entirely to paying for road maintenance and improvement and other transportation costs: 36 percent supported an increase, while 58 percent did not. When respondents were told a gas tax hike would cost the average driver about 50 cents more per day – or $180 annually – their opposition grew even stronger. Not even a proposed corresponding cut in estate and inheritance taxes made the gas tax hike any more appealing. Yet 54 percent believed not enough money has been spent on road, highway, and bridge maintenance. Similar feelings existed regarding spending on mass transit and the existing (poor) state of the Hudson River rail tunnels, though New Jerseyans did not want to immediately act on these repairs due to cost concerns.

GAS TAX HIKE STILL OPPOSED BY NEW JERSEYANS

GAS TAX HIKE A NONSTARTER FOR NEW JERSEYANS; PROPOSED ESTATE TAX TRADE-OFF FAILS TO BOOST SUPPORT

ARC PROJECT CANCELLATION BY CHRISTIE RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT FUTURE OF TRANS-HUDSON RAIL TUNNELS FOR NEW JERSEYANS

 

3.) What 2015 election? New Jerseyans unaware of 2015 state legislative elections and legislators

With our 200th ever poll approaching this past semester, we decided to do a throwback in October by re-asking some of the very first poll questions the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll (then known as the New Jersey Poll) ever asked back in 1971. Forty-four years after the first press release from the Eagleton Institute of Politics’ inaugural poll reported little awareness of the then upcoming 1971 state legislative elections, New Jerseyans remained just as uninformed about the state Legislature in our October 2015 pre-election poll. Three-quarters of Garden State residents were completely unaware that any elections would be held this past November, just slightly better than the 85 percent who were ignorant in 1971. Residents actually did worse than four decades ago when taking into account whether those who named a specific office(s) on the ballot were correct: just 6 percent rightly said that the state Assembly was on the ballot, and 3 percent mentioned the Legislature in general. Even fewer residents correctly named their own state senators. Among all Garden Staters, 8 percent gave some name, but only 5 percent actually got it right. Forty-four years and many state legislative elections later, it appears the more things change, sometimes the more they stay the same.

WHAT ELECTION? JUST AS IN 1971, NEARLY ALL NEW JERSEYANS UNAWARE OF STATE ASSEMBLY RACES THIS NOVEMBER; FEW CAN NAME THEIR OWN STATE SENATOR

 

2.) New Jerseyans say “no” to President Christie

A presidential bid for Gov. Christie went from a probability to a reality this past summer, but the governor has had little support for his run back home in the Garden State. A month after Christie’s official 2016 announcement, seven in 10 New Jersey registered voters said he would not make a good president, and 55 percent thought Christie’s best chances for getting the GOP nomination had already come and gone. Only about one-third of New Jersey voters said he still had a shot at that point, while 6 percent said he never had one in the first place. Fifty-four percent said “presidential” did not describe Christie at all, versus 29 percent who thought it described the governor somewhat well and just 14 percent who said “very well.” In October, 67 percent wanted him to end his campaign. This post-announcement sentiment was nothing new: New Jerseyans never thought Christie was a good fit for president, even before he officially threw his hat into the ring. Even support for a Christie presidency from his own party base has waned in recent months, as Republican and Republican-leaning voters in the Garden State have consistently picked businessman Donald Trump as their top choice ever since he officially entered the race.

A ‘BULLY’ FOR PRESIDENT? NEW JERSEY VOTERS QUESTION IF CHRISTIE HAS WHAT IT TAKES FOR 2016

OVAL OFFICE, CHRISTIE PERFECT TOGETHER? NEW JERSEY VOTERS DON’T SEE GOVERNOR AS GOOD FIT FOR PRESIDENT

‘PRESIDENT’ CHRISTIE? 2016 ANNOUNCEMENT FOLLOWS YEAR OF INCREASINGLY NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS AND FALLING RATINGS FOR GOVERNOR

NJ VOTERS EXPECT CHRISTIE TO MAKE DEBATE, BUT SAY HIS BEST CHANCE FOR GOP NOMINATION IS BEHIND HIM

CHRISTIE NOT PRESIDENTIAL, ACCORDING TO HALF OF NJ VOTERS; GOV INCREASINGLY SEEN AS SELF-CENTERED, ARROGANT, A BULLY

TRUMP STILL LEADS GOP FIELD IN NEW JERSEY, CHRISTIE FALLS WELL BEHIND; VOTERS TO CHRISTIE: END CAMPAIGN

CHRISTIE’S JOB APPROVAL HITS NEW LOW, RATINGS ACROSS THE BOARD CONTINUE TO SLIP; TRUMP STILL LEADS 2016 GOP FIELD IN NEW JERSEY, CHRISTIE RECLAIMS SECOND

 

1.) Gov. Christie hits rock bottom in the Garden State

After riding a post-Sandy high throughout the entirety of 2013, Gov. Christie’s numbers in the Garden State began to drop precipitously in January 2014 in the wake of Bridgegate and other scandal-related allegations. But it was not until one year later, in 2015, when Christie’s ratings completely turned upside down. In our February poll, a clear majority of New Jersey voters (53 percent) felt unfavorable toward the governor for the first time ever. A majority also disapproved of his job as governor overall for the first time – 52 percent disapprove to 42 percent approve. His numbers continued to spiral throughout the year, as New Jerseyans cited his character, attitude, and untrustworthiness, as well as his 2016 aspirations and lingering Bridgegate accusations, as top reasons for their dislike and his declining ratings. By December, just 33 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Christie, the second lowest rating he has ever received. Christie’s unfavorable rating jumped back to its all-time high of 59 percent after a small improvement in October. Christie’s overall job approval likewise slipped to its lowest point yet in December: 33 percent of New Jersey voters approved of his performance, and 62 percent disapproved, representing voters’ strongest disapproval of Christie’s job performance to date. Christie has fared no better regarding his job approval on individual issues. His rating on the perennial top issue in the state – taxes – hit an all-time low in December, 23 percent approve to 71 percent disapprove. He also reached new lows on the economy and jobs (30 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove), the state budget (25 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove), the state pension fund situation (21 percent approve, 66 percent disapprove) and education (33 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove) to close out 2015. As Gov. Christie continues his campaign for president, and as the primary season officially gets underway, there is no telling what kind of ratings 2016 may bring for the governor back home.

CHRISTIE’S RATINGS DROP TO ALL-TIME LOWS AS VOTERS CITE GOVERNOR’S ATTITUDE, PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS, BRIDGEGATE AS REASONS

CHRISTIE’S NEGATIVE RATINGS CONTINUE; NEW LOWS FOR OVERALL JOB APPROVAL, SANDY, AND TAXES

CHRISTIE CHARACTER TRAITS LEAVE NEW JERSEY VOTERS DUBIOUS; GOVERNOR SEEN AS LESS TRUSTWORTHY, MORE ARROGANT

CHRISTIE’S NJ RATINGS DROP TO NEW ALL-TIME LOWS; VOTERS CITE GOV’S ATTITUDE, BULLYING, AND UNTRUSTWORTHINESS

NEW JERSEY VOTERS SAY GOV. CHRISTIE SHOULD RESIGN, BUT NOT IF LEGISLATURE FORCES THE ISSUE: RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL

CHRISTIE’S LOW RATINGS IN NEW JERSEY CONTINUE; APPROVAL ON TAXES HITS LOWEST POINT EVER

CHRISTIE’S JOB APPROVAL HITS NEW LOW, RATINGS ACROSS THE BOARD CONTINUE TO SLIP; TRUMP STILL LEADS 2016 GOP FIELD IN NEW JERSEY, CHRISTIE RECLAIMS SECOND

 

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