OK, so it’s nearly the end of January, and everyone else has already done their greatest hits of 2012. Even so, we thought we’d take a quick look back at some of the more interesting findings. Aaron Hyndman, the undergraduate student who has been leading our social networking team, and Ashley Koning, graduate student and Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Manager, put together this retrospective.
So here is a look back at the top five Rutgers-Eagleton Poll moments of 2012 at ECPIP:
5) Wider support for same-sex marriage and immigration a reflection of greater social change.
As the New Jersey legislature once again addressed same-sex marriage in early 2012, with a subsequent controversy ensuing, more than half of New Jersey voters (54 percent) were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. But they wanted to vote on it. And around the time of President Obama’s executive order regarding the DREAM Act, June 2012 findings show mass bipartisan appeal for the measure providing opportunities for children of undocumented immigrants. Eighty percent of New Jersey residents voiced support, mirroring national trends.
4) “Predicting” the 2012 Election.
From President Obama’s strong win in New Jersey by the same 17-point margin as shown in a late September Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, to the higher education bond passing with nearly the exact same percentage as our results showed more than a month prior, our late September polling was surprisingly accurate, reinforcing the idea that most NJ voters had made up their minds long before election day. And in partnership with WNYC and The Brian Lehrer Show, we went even further into major issues by investigating New Jersey opinions on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid (http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2012/oct/10/wnycrutgers-eagleton-poll-results/).
3) A growing concern about gun violence and gun control in the wake of nationwide tragedies.
First polled in August after the Colorado, Wisconsin Sikh Temple, and Empire State Building Shootings, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found two-thirds of NJ voters very concerned with gun violence in America, 65 percent believing gun ownership was more important than gun owners’ rights, and nearly half agreeing that New Jersey gun laws should be made stricter. Asked less than four months later in the wake of the unspeakable shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll saw a dramatic shift in favor of gun control from August (up to 72 percent across all New Jerseyans and up to 57 percent specifically within gun-owning households). More than three quarters of New Jerseyans were worried about gun violence – including six in ten gun owners – and virtually all believed it to be an important issue for the national agenda.
Press Release: September 12, 2012
2.) Jersey Strong in the face of the Superstorm – bipartisanship and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Superstorm Sandy was probably the most unprecedented, dramatic weather event in New Jersey’s history. In the days before a national election, the Superstorm forced politics to be set aside so that leaders on both sides of the aisle could do everything in their power to provide aid to those suffering and help rebuild our region (and canceled our pre-election polling as well). With two thirds of New Jerseyans affected by the storm, they praised this spirit of bipartisan cooperation by giving both President Obama and Governor Christie extraordinarily high marks in our November poll that chronicled Sandy’s aftermath.
1.) The Untouchable Chris Christie and his soaring reelection and approval numbers heading into the 2013 race for governor.
Prior to Sandy, New Jersey voters were split on whether the governor should receive a second term or if it was time for someone new. But Sandy changed all of that, and Governor Christie took a commanding lead in our November poll – both in general and by double-digit margins when put head-to-head against likely Democrat opponents (including Booker) for the 2013 election. His undeniable leadership in a time of crisis and post-Sandy popularity has catapulted him to his highest favorability ratings ever as governor. Christie now enters the 2013 race as a formidable opponent with strong job performance grades, greater support from his citizens, and a reputation that is less reminiscent of his pre-Sandy numbers and more reflective of his leadership and strong character in rebuilding the Garden State. But a lot can happen over the course of an election year, and we will be there to document it.