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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Is New Jersey “Ready for Hillary”?

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.

Clinton Trend

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Celebrating the First Day of Summer with a Look at New Jerseyans’ Summer Shore Plans

Summer is now officially upon us, and to round out this batch of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll’s latest press releases, we wanted to pay tribute to the first day of summer with a look at NJ residents’ upcoming summer shore plans.  We find that a large majority of Garden Staters will be going down the shore this summer, including virtually all who typically visit each year as well as a quarter of those who typically have not gone to the beach in the past.  Most typical shore-goers will be spending either the same amount or more time at the shore.  More than half of visitors in general plan  to go down the shore for the day or a few days, while 4 in 10 visitors will stay longer.  Despite any remnants of Sandy, NJ residents are living up to the “stronger than the storm” motto – which incidentally seems to be having a positive effect with beach goers – and are ready to once again enjoy one of the Garden State’s favorite traditions and most beloved treasures.

Full text of the release follows. For a PDF of the release with questions and tables, click here.


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As the first day of summer arrives and vacations get into full swing, just over two-thirds of New Jersey residents say they will spend time at the Jersey shore this summer, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Despite the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, 96 percent of those who typically visit the Jersey Shore plan to do so again this season. A quarter of those who don’t go every year will be joining them this year.

Sandy does not seem to have shortened planned visits for most of those who usually vacation at the Jersey Shore: 63 percent will spend about as much time as in summers past, while 14 percent will stay even longer. Only 19 percent are planning shorter than normal visits, and just a few (2 percent) will not visit at all. For the 21 percent spending less time, just under six in ten say Sandy is the reason for their truncated plans.

In general, most New Jerseyans plan to go down the shore for at least a few days this summer. Among all who are planning a shore vacation, 39 percent expect to do day trips only, while 20 percent plan to do short two- to three-day stays. About 40 percent will stay longer: 15 percent will stay from four days to a week, while 17 percent plan to visit for more than a week. A very lucky seven percent will spend the whole summer at the shore.

“Summer is here, and New Jersey beachgoers are acting on the view that ‘we are stronger than the storm,’ as the ad goes,” said Ashley Koning, manager of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. “The outlook for the summer tourism season appears pretty stable, and while some are cutting back on their shore time this summer, most are planning to spend as much or more time catching some rays and waves and strolling the boardwalks.”

Results are from a poll of 888 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from June 3-9 with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.

The typical shore crowd

Across the state, 62 percent say they “typically” spend at least some vacation at the shore, while another 6 percent live at the beach. Unsurprising to anyone who has spent time there or watched MTV’s Jersey Shore, the summer crowd is younger and relatively urban: 71 percent of residents under 30 are regular shore-goers, compared to 41 percent of senior citizens. Shore county residents are most likely to visit the beach (85 percent visit or live there), but they are closely followed by 69 percent of Philadelphia area/South Jersey residents and 64 percent of suburban residents.

Younger visitors are more likely to take shorter trips, while older vacationers and those who are well-to-do are more likely to stay longer. Day trips are most popular for those who typically visit the shore. While more than half take shorter trips, 21 percent go for more than a week, and another 10 percent hang out for the entire summer.

While Jersey Shore regulars are still planning beach trips this season, some visits may be shorter than usual. About a quarter of typical shore-goers who usually stay four days to a week or more than a week are planning to cut back this summer, as are 22 percent of those who typically stay two to three days. But visitors who take day trips or spend the entire summer are more likely to say they plan to spend more time there this season than to say they are cutting back their visits. Fifty-eight percent who will be spending less time at the beach this summer cite Sandy as the reason, and those personally affected by Sandy are more likely to say they will spend less time at the shore this summer as well. Those aware of the “stronger than the storm” ads are 11 points more likely than those who are not to say they will stay for about the same amount of time this summer as in summers past.

“Typical shore-goers do not seem all that deterred by any remnants of Sandy,” said Koning. “While the storm has some effect on their plans and some will visit for a shorter time, most plan to come back for their usual stay, and the promotional campaign seems to be reinforcing this notion among those who are aware of it.”

Most able to rent or return to summer homes despite Sandy damage

As for where they stay, 45 percent of the typical shore crowd rents down the shore, 22 percent own a summer home, and 30 percent say they do not stay overnight. Twenty-four percent of summer homeowners say their houses suffered significant damage from Hurricane Sandy, but 9 out of 10 homeowners are still able to stay in their homes this summer. One in ten either relocated to another place or are still looking for one. Among those who typically rent, nearly three-quarters say they have had no problems renting this year, compared to only 8 percent who say they have had a problem; eighteen percent are unsure of their rental status for this summer.

Older visitors are more likely to own a home down the shore than younger visitors. More affluent households are also more likely to own a summer home than those in lower income brackets. Over a third of those living in shore areas own a home at the shore, as do 32 percent of those who live in south Jersey and a quarter of those from exurban counties.

The longer the typical shore stay, the more likely it is that the visitor is a homeowner. Those who stay the longest are by far the most likely to be home owners: 81 percent of those who stay the entire summer own homes there, compared to just 6 percent who make day trips and more than twice the number of summer home owners who go to the shore for more than a week. Those who make day trips are most likely neither to rent nor own a place, while more than 6 in 10 of those who stay for 2-3 days or more than a week, and more than 7 in 10 of those who stay for 4 days to a week, are more likely to rent.

Who’s going this summer and for how long

While 62 percent of residents typically visit the shore, they will be joined this year by many less-regular visitors, who do not seem deterred by worries about Sandy damage. Fully two-thirds of Garden Staters plan to vacation at the Jersey Shore.

New Jerseyans from all over the state are getting ready to go down the shore this summer. Those residents who have seen or heard the “stronger than the storm” ad campaign promoting Jersey Shore tourism are also 9 points more likely to say they plan to head down the shore this summer – 70 percent, compared to 61 percent who are not aware of the ads.

Day trips continue to be most popular this summer among all visitors – especially with those who live in urban (51 percent) and exurban (41 percent) areas, and are in the lowest income bracket (44 percent). Summer homeowners are more likely to stay down the shore longer as well, while renters are more likely to stay for shorter periods of time.

Residents who have seen or heard the “stronger than the storm” ads are also more likely to spend a longer time at the shore than those who have not seen them – 5 points more likely to spend 4 days to a week, 8 points more likely to spend more than a week, and 1 point more likely to spend the entire summer there.

New Jerseyans new to the shore scene will be taking shorter trips this year than seasoned beach goers. Almost twice as many casual visitors as regulars will be taking day trips only, while those who typically spend time at the shore are much more likely to go for the week or entire summer – 27 percent versus just 1% of newcomers.

“Nothing says summer like going down the Jersey Shore,” said Koning. “And for both seasoned and first-time shore-goers, this summer seems to be no exception. Newcomers may not be staying as long, but they are still planning to put in a good number of days down the shore this summer.”

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