Category Archives: Education

Revisiting Garden State Quality of Life in the 200th Rutgers-Eagleton Poll

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

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

One-third think state will be a better place to live in next decade, but most say N.J. still on wrong track, taxes top concern

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Almost six in 10 New Jersey residents call their state a good or excellent place to live, but those who call the Garden State home clearly recognize its strengths and weaknesses, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

While 58 percent believe New Jersey is a good or excellent place to raise a family and about 70 percent rate it good or excellent for education and recreation, 63 percent say job prospects are fair or poor, 55 percent say the same about running a business, and 79 percent rate it fair or poor when it comes to retirement.

Overall, New Jerseyans believe that the state has either become a worse place to live (41 percent) or has not changed at all (37 percent) in the last five or ten years. Only 17 percent say it has gotten better during this period. This pattern was first seen in December 2010, departing from rosier views in previous decades.

Yet residents remain somewhat optimistic about the future, just as they have in previous decades. Thirty-two percent say New Jersey will become a better place to live in the next five or 10 years, while another 38 percent say it will stay the same. Twenty percent say life here will become worse.

Although finding both good and bad in their state, New Jerseyans remain mostly negative about the state’s current direction: 33 percent now say New Jersey is headed in the right direction, while 58 percent say the state is off on the wrong track.

“For our 200th poll, we revisited some of the most important questions we have asked over the past four decades, questions that helped us trace the trajectory of the Garden State,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “Residents nowadays have very mixed feelings about their home – socially and culturally, New Jerseyans give the state solid ratings, but they take a much dimmer view of the state on employment, the economy and finances.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 843 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, 2015. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Rating New Jersey’s past, present, and future

In four decades of asking this question, a majority has consistently rated New Jersey as a good or excellent place to live. The 1980s were the most positive period; 84 percent rated the state as an excellent or good place to live in February 1987. Higher ratings held mostly constant until the current decade, during which a comparatively less positive trend emerged beginning in March 2010.

While majorities across the board are positive today, differences in magnitude emerge among certain demographics. Republicans, Gov. Christie supporters, white residents, exurbanites, and married residents are more likely to give better ratings than their counterparts. Residents relatively new to the state are more positive than those who have lived here longer: 70 percent rate New Jersey as good or excellent, compared to 56 percent of residents who have lived here their entire lives.

Views on New Jersey’s past and future are strongly linked to views on its present. Residents more positive about the last several years and more optimistic about the next several are more likely to rate New Jersey as an excellent or good place to live now. Likewise, those currently more positive about the state have correspondingly positive takes on the state’s past and future. Right direction-wrong track views relate to these ratings as might be expected.

Reflecting on New Jersey’s past, Republicans, less educated residents, exurbanites, urbanites, and Christie supporters are all more likely to say the state has gotten better. Residents who have lived in New Jersey their entire lives are slightly more likely to say the state has improved as a place to live (19 percent), but almost half of this group also say it has become worse. Residents who have lived in the state about a decade or less are the least negative and much more likely to say there has been no change or to say they are unsure.

Certain groups are more likely to believe in New Jersey’s future than others. The optimists include Democrats, non-white residents, millennials, urbanites, those who say the state is going in the right direction, and those who have lived in New Jersey for about a decade or less.

The good and the bad of living in New Jersey

When it comes to education, family life, and entertainment, New Jerseyans like the Garden State. New Jerseyans across the board recognize the state’s superiority in educational offerings. Twenty-two percent say the state is an excellent place for education, and another 47 percent say good – little changed since the question was first asked in October 1984. The state’s oldest residents, as well as youngest residents, are most likely to rate New Jersey highly on education, as are the most educated residents.

Although more than half still believes New Jersey is a good (43 percent) or excellent (15 percent) place to raise a family, this number has experienced a double-digit drop since 1984, when over three-quarters felt the same. Nevertheless, family life in New Jersey is still rated highly across all groups – especially among younger residents, those in more affluent households, those living in exurban and suburban areas, married residents, and residents who are newer to the state.

As for entertainment and recreation, little has changed here over the last few decades as well. Residents continue to rate their state highly in this area (22 percent excellent, 48 percent good). Ratings are particularly high among residents who are older, white, living in exurban or shore counties, married, and long-time or lifetime residents.

But the state does not fare so well when it comes to retirement. Almost half of New Jerseyans once gave positive ratings to the state on this score, but just 18 percent do today; negative ratings, on the other hand, have gone up almost 30 points since 1984. Nowadays, middle-aged residents and those approaching retirement are especially apt to rate the state low here.

As a place to find a job, ratings are now much more negative than positive – a far cry from the 65 percent good or excellent rating of 1984. Just 29 percent overall say job prospects in the state are good; only 5 percent say excellent. Middle-aged residents and men are particularly negative in their current ratings, while Republicans, residents in more affluent households, and residents newer to the state are slightly more positive.

Still moving in the wrong direction

Assessments of the state’s direction have been more negative than positive since March 2014, with the gap between right direction and wrong track widening within the last several months. This is a complete reversal from two years ago, with this kind of negativity not felt since October 2009.

“Residents give New Jersey positive ratings as a place to live and have some hope for the future, but they also continue to think the state is on the wrong track,” noted Koning. “While the two indicators are connected, one measures personal experience while the other reflects more economic and political concerns facing the state. Just because New Jerseyans enjoy aspects of the lifestyle here does not mean they think everything is great in the Garden State.”

Length of residency in New Jersey also has an effect. Relative newcomers to the state are more positive (half say right direction), but the longer one has lived in New Jersey, the less positive the rating.

Typical partisan patterns are evident: while a majority of Republicans (53 percent) believe New Jersey is headed in the right direction, most independents and especially Democrats feel the state is off on the wrong track (55 percent and 73 percent, respectively).

Taxes: the bane of New Jerseyans’ existence

As always, taxes remain the top concern in the state, at 23 percent. Disdain for taxes in New Jersey is clear: 80 percent of residents say they pay too much in state and local taxes for what they get in return, while just 14 percent feel they get their money’s worth. While “pay too much” is at a peak, a large majority of New Jerseyans has felt disgruntled about taxes in every survey since the question was first asked in February 1972.

New Jerseyans also believe they are at a disadvantage on taxes compared to other states: 67 percent think they get less for their money compared to taxpayers elsewhere, 23 percent say they get about the same, and just 5 percent say they get more. Views on this question have changed markedly since initially asked on our second-ever poll, when almost half thought we got about the same for our money as taxpayers did in other states.

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Leading Up to our 200th Poll Ever … A Look back at the 1970s


Celebrating the 200th

A Look Back at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: The 1970s

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.

Here at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, we are about to approach our 200th poll ever – quite a milestone and a marker of just how long we have been polling New Jersey politics. The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was the nation’s first university-based state survey when it was established with funding from the Wallace-Eljabar Fund in October 1971. It has been called many different names and has had many different directors over the past 44 years, but what has remained constant is its dedication to contributing to the public dialogue in the state; to access our over four decades of data, you can visit our extensive data archive. For more information on the poll’s history, check out our website: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-poll/

This is our first decade-by-decade analysis as we gear up for our 200th poll. We have an amazing team of interns who have been working very hard on researching our past and analyzing old questionnaires, press releases, and data. Special thanks to Sonni Waknin, Natalie DeAngelo, and Abigail Orr on this project.  

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In American history, the 1970s is marked as a tumultuous decade. Filled with war, protests, and reform, the 1970s culture and counterculture was a driving force in changing the political atmosphere. Founded in 1971, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll cataloged the shift in public perception and opinion throughout the decade. Recurring themes in poll questions during this decade included education local government knowledge, reform, taxes, and drug use.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was founded as the nation’s first university based public opinion poll. One of the first major releases for the poll pertained to New Jersey state elections. The center’s major finding was that, with elections for State Senate and General Assembly only two weeks off, 85 percent of adults did not know which members of the two bodies were even up for election. The poll also asked a variety of questions on the public’s perception of New Jersey politics. Questions centered around government’s place in protecting the citizen from corruption and abuse by corporations.

Education appears to be a major theme throughout the ‘70s. Questions primarily asked during this decade focused on how states should fund school districts. One question asked respondents, “Local schools must be supported by some sort of tax money. If you had to choose, would you prefer paying for schools through the income tax or through property taxes?” 55 percent of respondents answered that they thought schools should be supported through income tax, while 33 percent of respondents believed that property taxes were the best method. In New Jersey, schools are funded through local property taxes, as well as funding from the state.

Another question asked was, “There are a number of ways to tell how well a student is doing in school. The student can be compared to other students, or the student can be evaluated on how much individual progress has been made during the course of the year. Finally, the student could be compared with some objective standards measuring the learning of important skills. Which one of these–comparison with others, individual progress, or objective standards–do you feel is the best way to tell how much a student has learned?” Sixty-five percent of respondents believed that students should be measured against their own individual achievement, and 20 percent supported objective standards. Only 10 percent of New Jerseyans supported other measures, such as being compared with others. Questions of how to measure schools’ effectiveness or how much children are achieving are questions still being asked today. The common core curriculum was recently put in place as a remedy and a standard to measure student performance; much debate has occurred over its implementation and impact, however.

Many of the questions asked in the 1970s are questions that are very applicable today. Education and taxes are two issues that have not lessened in importance by the public’s perception. Also, questions of how active one is in government or knowing about local elections are important to how political entities interact with citizens; in fact, in our latest poll over four decades later, we see very similar results. Today, many people do not know when state elections are held or even who their state representatives are. I guess we can say that even though a lot has changed since the 1970s, other things have certainly stayed the same.

Word Cloud of All Press Release Topics: 1971-1979

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Understanding the Future of New Jersey’s Most Important Problem

By Brandon Diaz-Abreu

Brandon Diaz-Abreu is a data visualization and graphic representation intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) and a sophomore at Rutgers University.

In our most recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, New Jerseyans continue to say that taxes, followed closely by the economy and jobs, are the most important problems facing the Garden State – a combined 53 percent. Our previous polls show that these two issues have consistently been mentioned as the top problems since February 2013. But while there is a lot of focus on how the prolonged reign of these issues impacts politics in the Garden State, a closer inspection reveals some possible new trends in the years to come.

Approximately 10-13 percent of New Jersey residents have said education is the top problem in the state in the same time period as stated above, consistently ranked third or fourth as the most important issue. But when we look closer at this question by age and region, we see that each month, education is the first or second most important problem for people 18-39 years old (21 percent this past February) and is usually a close second for people who live in urban areas (12 percent this past February) – arguably two of the groups most impacted by this issue.

For young adults, the rising costs of higher education is one part of the issue that looms large: young college students are worried about how to pay tuition rates that are on the rise, and recent college graduates may be struggling to pay off their accumulated student loans. As for urban residents, their heightened interest in this issue may stem from concerns for quality of education and child safety in urban school systems.

As we can see in the table below, the issue of education has become an increasingly important problem to these particular groups, as well as to the New Jersey population overall, between 2009 and now. Though taxes and the economy have perennially been top concerns, it is possible that education could take the number one spot in New Jersey in the next few decades if little continues to be done for the state’s educational system.

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GOV. CHRISTIE RATINGS FALL TO LOWEST POINT IN RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL

Today we have the first of three releases focused in some way on Gov. Chris Christie: his ratings; New Jerseyan’s attitudes toward his presidential campaign; and a third release on perceptions of Hillary Clinton as a presidential opponent. The latter two will come out next week.

In the meantime we focus today on Christie’s ratings with NJ voters. And the story is not a good one for the governor. He has reached the lowest approval point we have recorded across his entire term, breaking through the 50% negative impressions and job approval barrier. The drop seems to be driven by a huge negative shift among independents.

We also, for the first time ever, asked voters to tell us int heir own words why they think Christie’s ratings had taken a downward trend over the last couple months.   The keys? His personality appears perhaps to be wearing thin on voters, the Bridgegate scandal which remains on their minds, and his focus on national ambitions, rather than on his job as governor. Sometimes it is really interesting to simply record what people say in their own terms. It certainly is here.

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release text, questions, and tables.

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

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As Chris Christie attempts to build a following among national Republicans in preparation for an expected 2016 presidential bid, New Jersey voters have soured on the governor, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Following a recent spate of damaging headlines, Christie’s support has collapsed to just 37 percent of registered voters reporting a favorable impression, down seven points in just two months.

For the first time, a clear majority (53 percent) feels unfavorable towards the governor. His overall job approval is also clearly negative: 52 percent disapprove while 42 percent approve, a drop of six points since December.

ChristieFavFeb2015

Voters have definite opinions about reasons behind the slide. Twenty percent mention his attitude, personality, and behavior; 15 percent refer specifically to “Bridgegate” and 10 percent say something about shunning his current duties to pursue presidential ambitions.

“As one respondent said, ‘Christie visiting different states for the presidential race made New Jerseyans not like him,’” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Others used words like ‘arrogance,’ ‘rudeness’ and ‘abrasive’ to explain the turnaround from his high flying post-Sandy days. And of course, all manner of mentions of Bridgegate and other scandals were offered.”

Christie’s slump is reflected in specific issues as well. His job approval on taxes (the top concern for 29 percent of voters) is down three points to 28 percent since the December 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. On the economy – the most important issue for 24 percent – Christie is down four points to 31 percent approval.

And what was already a strikingly low approval rating on handling the pension situation has fallen an additional five points to 19 percent. The largest decline, seven points to 35 percent, has been in respondents’ perception of how he has been handling education. Only approval levels on Sandy recovery (55 percent, the highest of any issue), crime and drugs (48 percent), and the budget (31 percent) have remained steady since the last poll.

Despite Christie’s increasingly negative ratings, voters split on whether he has been a good or bad governor: 38 percent of voters are positive, 33 percent negative, and 29 percent neutral. But voters are increasingly negative on the direction of the state: 35 percent say New Jersey is going in the right direction, while 54 percent say it is on the wrong track.

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, including 694 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Christie loses independents in overall ratings

A key to keeping Christie’s ratings in positive territory through most of tenure has been ongoing support provided by independent voters. But that has changed. Independent voters now are squarely against a governor they long supported, with favorable impressions falling a record-breaking 16 points since December to 31 percent. Meanwhile, the share of independent voters with an unfavorable impression grew by double digits to 55 percent.

“Christie’s loss of independent support undercuts his efforts to be seen as appealing across the political spectrum,” noted Redlawsk. “This 16-point drop is even larger than we found in the aftermath of Bridgegate, when the decline was 14 points over two-and-a-half months. This would seem to be nothing but bad news as the governor ramps up his national profile. For the first time, independents look more like Democrats than they do Republicans in their assessments of Christie.”

While New Jersey independents show a steep drop, Democrats and Republicans hold steady in their assessments. Democrats are at 24 percent favorable to 70 percent unfavorable, while Republicans are just the opposite, at 73 percent favorable to 20 percent favorable.

Christie’s overall job approval reflects more of the same. Independents’ approval of his performance has completely flipped; just 39 percent now approve (down 13 points), versus 55 percent who disapprove (up 13 points). Just 25 percent of Democrats approve and 68 percent disapprove, while Republicans remain at 79 percent approval to 16 percent disapproval.

Christie slips among Republican on key issues

Republicans retain their overall positive assessments of Christie, but the story varies on some key issues. While GOP approval of Christie’s performance on taxes remains steady at 47 percent, the same is not true of the economy and jobs, where his 46 percent approval rating among Republicans represents an 11-point decline. More Republicans now disapprove – 48 percent – a huge increase of 19 points since December. Christie also suffers from declines within his base on the state budget, with 55 percent now approving (down nine points), crime and drugs (down six points to 64 percent), and the state pension fund (down six points to 37 percent).

“In December, independents remained more positive than negative overall, despite significant drops on some key issues,” said Redlawsk. “The decline on issues, however, was clearly a leading indicator, as overall support among independents has now plummeted. The question is whether we will see the same dynamic with Republicans, who continue strongly positive overall, but are now trending negative on two major issues: the economy and the state pension fund.”

Voters’ key reasons for Christie’s decline span his past, present, and future

ChristieReasonsWordcloud

Christie’s perennial “Jersey guy” personality, attitude, and behavior – a blessing in the best of times and a curse to him in the worst – is seen by voters as the top reason for his ratings decline, as 20 percent cite this when asked to explain what polls have been showing. The George Washington Bridge scandal is also high on voters’ minds, coming in a close second at 15 percent, along with an additional 4 percent who mention scandals generally.

Christie’s 2016 aspirations have not been lost on voters either. His lack of attention to New Jersey as he focuses on presidential preparations is named by 10 percent, with another 4 percent specifically mentioning Christie’s “excessive” out of state travel.

Some, however, believe Christie’s fall may not be entirely his fault; 6 percent of voters cite news coverage and his portrayal by the media. Others look to specific issues – 5 percent name his handling of the economy and jobs; another 5 percent reference state employees, unions and pensions. Four percent bring up general poor governing, lack of leadership, and not doing enough for the state.

Democrats and independents are much more likely to reference Christie’s personality, attitude and behavior than Republicans (23 percent and 20 percent, respectively, to 12 percent). At 19 percent, Bridgegate is the top reason given among Republican voters. They are also much more likely than Democrats to blame Christie’s downfall on his portrayal in the media (11 percent versus just 2 percent of Democrats).

Mixed views on Christie’s legacy

For the most part, voters are split on how good or bad a governor Christie has been over the past five years. Independents are the most split: 35 percent say Christie has been a good governor, 34 percent say bad, and 31 percent say neither. But 69 percent of Republicans look positively on the governor’s time in office, while 24 percent are neutral; just 7 percent say Christie has been bad.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats differ: 22 percent say Christie has been good, 46 percent say he has been bad, while 31 percent are ambivalent about his performance.

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CHRISTIE FAVORABILITY NEGATIVE FOR FIRST TIME IN OVER THREE YEARS

Today we release the first of two analyses of assessments of NJ Gov. Chris Christie we carried out as part of our new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. In today’s release we focus on Christie’s favorability ratings and job performance. The former has dropped to lowest point we have yet recorded for the governor; 42 percent of NJ voters have a favorable impression while 45 percent feel unfavorable. Christie’s overall job performance rating is also down, but remains slightly positive at 50 percent approval to 46 percent disapproval. Perhaps more critically, approval of Christie’s performance on a range of top issues is quite negative and declining. On taxes, just 33 percent approve the governor’s job performance, with 38 percent approving his work on the economy and 39 percent on education. The numbers are simply not good for a governor who a year ago was riding high toward an overwhelming re-election.

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with questions and tables.

CHRISTIE RATINGS NEGATIVE FOR FIRST TIME IN OVER THREE YEARS

Governor’s favorability among registered voters drops seven points in two months

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – For the first time since August 2011, more New Jersey voters have an unfavorable impression of Gov. Chris Christie than a favorable one, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Following a seven-point decline during the past two months, just 42 percent of registered voters now feel favorable toward the governor, while 45 percent feel unfavorable.

“This is the lowest favorability rating we have ever recorded for Christie, below the 44 percent of August 2011,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “What had seemed like a small rebound following Christie’s Bridgegate ratings collapse now looks more like a temporary blip.”

While remaining slightly positive, Christie’s overall job approval rating is also dropping, falling three more points to 49 percent, with 46 percent disapproving, up five points.
Voters say taxes (24 percent), and the economy and jobs (21 percent) are the top two concerns, followed by corruption and abuse of power (16 percent) and education (12 percent). Underlying Christie’s decline is a roughly eight-month drop on three of these top issues: taxes (down 10 points to 33 percent approval), the economy (down three points to 38 percent) and education (down 10 points to 39 percent).

In addition, voters remain negative about Christie’s handling of the budget (down six points from a January 2014 poll, to 37 percent approval) and the pension crisis (24 percent approval, unchanged since first asked in August 2014.)

Only approval of Christie’s performance on Sandy recovery has shown significant improvement, rebounding to 60 percent from 54 percent last February. Approval of his handling of crime and drugs is up an insignificant two points to 52 percent over nearly the same period.

“The last time New Jerseyans were more negative than positive toward Christie the pension reform bill had just been signed, Christie had begun pushing a voter-supported teacher-tenure package and, there had been no Superstorm Sandy,” noted Redlawsk. “But the good will he piled up after acting on those voter supported issues, and his handling of Sandy, has vanished. By nearly every measure we have, Christie is losing support.”

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.

Top problems: taxes and the economy

Analysis of voters’ two top concerns shed some light on Christie’s ratings decline. While Republicans remain about 20 points more positive than negative on the governor’s performance on taxes and the economy, Democrats and independents have a different perspective. On taxes, 20 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of independents approve of Christie’s performance; 74 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents disapprove. On the economy and jobs, 27 percent of Democrats approve and 68 percent disapprove. Thirty-seven percent of independents approve, 53 percent do not.

Among the 24 percent who call taxes the most important problem, Christie does quite well: a 60-29 percent favorability rating, and a 63-33 percent overall job approval rating. Yet these same voters are very negative on Christie’s actual performance on taxes: 35 percent approve of his work while 57 percent disapprove.

A similar pattern emerges on the economy; the 21 percent who care the most give a 50-46 percent overall job approval rating and split 44 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable on impressions of Christie. But like voters focused on taxes, these respondents hit Christie hard on their key issue: 29 percent approve Christie’s work on the economy while 65 percent disapprove.

Redlawsk identified GOP voters’ strong overall support for Christie as a cause of this odd pattern. “For Republicans, partisan preference overrides specific job performance,” he said. “We see a huge 25-point-plus gap between Republicans’ overall ratings of Christie and their evaluations on taxes and the economy. They may be much less supportive of the governor’s actions on these issues, but this does not interfere with supporting their fellow Republican.”
Democrats, and to a lesser extent independents, have become more consistent in connecting their general ratings of the governor with disapproval of his specific performance on issues, Redlawsk added. “The much smaller gap between job approval and assessments on top issues for these voters leads to the very negative ratings we find when we look at all voters who care most about taxes and the economy.”

Partisanship and ratings

The share of Democrats with a positive impression of Christie has fallen seven points to 21 percent since last August and 37 percent since a high point in February 2013. Since August, favorability among independents has dropped eight points to 44 percent, and among Republicans five points to 74 percent. At Christie’s high point 20 months ago, 71 percent of independents and 88 percent of Republicans, respectively, felt favorably.

“The partisan favorability gap has skyrocketed to 53 points, as Democratic negativity has greatly increased since Bridgegate,” said Redlawsk. “But Christie is also losing independents at a growing rate, which threatens to undermine his image as a leader with broad support.”

Because some voters who dislike Christie still give him positive job ratings, his general job approval remains more positive than negative. But this partisan gap has also grown to 53 points: 80 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of Democrats and just over half of independent voters approve.

Where support weakens

Christie’s favorability and job support ratings among men have each fallen nine points the past two months; approval and disapproval of his overall job performance each stand at 47 percent, while 41 percent of men feel favorable about him. His favorability among women has declined four points to 44 percent, while they still approve of his job performance, 50 percent to 46 percent, virtually unchanged since August. Among urban voters, Christie’s job approval now stands at 31 percent, an 11-point tumble since August; 65 percent disapprove. Over the same period, suburban voters’ approval of Christie’s job performance fell seven points to 44 percent. Half of suburban voters now disapprove of how the governor does his job.

Christie’s report card: New lows

Since a pre-Bridgegate poll in November 2013, Christie’s job performance grades have plunged: only 10 percent now award him A, his smallest-ever share of the top grade and an 11-point drop. One-quarter of registered voters grade him B, also among the lowest total ever. C grades now dominate at 28 percent. The percentage of voters assigning D (16 percent) and F (19 percent) grades has climbed since last November, when only 8 percent of respondents failed the governor.

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Results of a Joint Poll with Siena and Roanoke Released Today

Over the last week we carried out our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of New Jersey with an interesting twist. In conjunction with two other statewide academic polling centers we fielded a large set of the same questions to respondents in our respective states. Today we release the results in a lengthy report that summarizes the interesting differences and similarities between the three states of New York (Siena Research Institute), Virginia (Roanoke Institute for Policy and Opinion Research) and Rutgers-Eagleton. The report speaks pretty much for itself, but if you want to see the full set of questions and crosstabs for all three institutions, you can find them here.

For a PDF of this release with the New Jersey tables and crosstabs, click here.

Full text of the release follows.

Roanoke/Rutgers-Eagleton/Siena College Study:  Simultaneous Polls – Virginia, New Jersey, New York
Majority in 3 States Favorable on Hillary Clinton; Give Former Sec of State 2016 Lead over Christie, Paul & Ryan

Voters in NJ, NY & Virginia in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage, National Gun Registry, Keystone Pipeline, Minimum Wage Hike, Med Marijuana; States Mixed on Obamacare, Unemployment Extension

Cuomo Stronger in NY than Christie in Jersey or McAuliffe in Virginia

NY & NJ Voters see Global Climate Change; Virginians Mixed

Loudonville, NY; New Brunswick, NJ; Roanoke, VA. – A majority of voters in New York (64 percent), New Jersey (59 percent) and Virginia (56 percent) have a favorable view of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and name her most often in each state as the one eligible person that they would most like to see as the next President according to simultaneous identical polls conducted by Roanoke College in Virginia, Rutgers-Eagleton in New Jersey and Siena College in New York.  In early 2016 Presidential horseraces in each state, Clinton tops New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Paul Ryan by over 35 points in New York, 8 (Christie) to 14 (Paul) points in Virginia and even leads Christie by 10 in New Jersey while up there by 25 to 29 over Ryan and Paul.

“It’s early, very early, but in these three states worth 56 of 270 electoral votes needed to win, Hillary Clinton is well-liked, the top choice by margins of 4 or 5 to one in New York and Virginia and named more than twice as often in Governor Christie’s home state.  Head to head, she is untouchable in New York, has majorities in New Jersey and a lead in the potential battleground state of Virginia over not only two lesser known Republican hopefuls, Paul and Ryan, but over Christie who can no longer muster 50 percent favorable in any of the three states,” according to Don Levy, Director of the Siena College Research Institute.

Asked to vote in favor of or opposed to 12 national initiatives, a majority of voters in all three states support seven and oppose one.  Overwhelming majorities are in favor of raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour; legalizing the use of marijuana in all 50 states for medical purposes; approving a path to citizenship for people who are in the U.S. illegally, but are working, have no criminal record and pay taxes; approving the Keystone Pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the U.S.; using federal funds to make free Pre-Kindergarten education available to all children; and establishing a national gun registry.

Legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states is strongly supported in New Jersey and New York while Virginians are in favor by 53 to 40 percent.  Large majorities, greatest in Virginia, oppose allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to tap domestic phone lines in the interest of national security.

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“We tend to spend more time focusing on how voters differ across states, but here we find that despite differences in geography, racial and religious makeup, and partisanship, there is more agreement than not in these three states on seven current issues. Apparently voters share more opinions than the media leads us to believe with their focus on a hyper partisan world,” according to David Redlawsk, Director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

“Given a huge disparity in gun ownership rates – half in Virginia compared to one in seven in the two northern states – the much smaller differences on support for a national gun registry are surprising.  Virginians are less supportive of stricter gun laws, but those differences are relatively small. New York and New Jersey have much tougher restrictions on guns and gun owners; perhaps those differences are a factor in shaping opinion,” according to Harry Wilson, Director of Roanoke’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research.

On four current issues – the Affordable Care Act, abortion, standardized testing and an extension for unemployment benefits – the voters of New Jersey, New York and Virginia do not speak with the same decisiveness nor the same mind.  Given the opportunity to vote in these polls on repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a majority of Virginians are in favor, a small majority of New Jerseyans agree, but a similarly small majority of New Yorkers oppose repeal.  On two other current hot button issues, both New York and New Jersey support both reinstituting unemployment benefits beyond the initial 26 weeks of coverage and to a lesser degree, using nationally standardized tests to assess the quality of public schools, while in Virginia, both issues find voters split.

The one issue on which voters of each state are closely divided is making abortion illegal 20 weeks after conception, a proposal currently being advanced by some in Congress.  Voters in all three states lean towards opposing this measure, but only in Virginia does opposition reach beyond the margin of error and in no instant does opposition reach 50 percent.

“While voters in these three states agree on and endorse initiatives covering a wide range of issues – same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, the Keystone Pipeline and the minimum wage – voters both within these three states and across borders cannot come to any consensus on some of the key issues that are drawing the political battle lines today including abortion, Obamacare and unemployment benefits.  In fact, asked whether the greatest problem we face today is too much government or income inequality, New Yorkers say ‘it’s inequality,’ Virginians say ‘too much government’ and New Jersey is split,” Levy notes.

“Another line in the sand is climate change.  New Jersey and New York emphatically say that they think that the major storms that have hit the East Coast over the last two years are the result of global climate change while Virginians are not convinced,” Wilson adds.

Rating the Governors, States and Country

Of the three Governors, Andrew Cuomo in New York, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, Cuomo has the strongest favorability ranking in his own state at 59 to 34 percent followed by McAuliffe’s 47 to 33 percent and Christie’s 48 to 40 percent.  Away from their home state, Christie is best known but gets breakeven favorable/unfavorable scores in both New York and Virginia.  McAuliffe, the Governor with the shortest tenure, is little known outside of Virginia while Cuomo is seen favorably in New Jersey, 47 to 19 percent but is neither well known nor popular in Virginia at 27 to 33 percent.

Another point of agreement across these three states is that voters say that the country is headed in the wrong direction rather than being on the right track by nearly identical scores – NJ 56/32, NY 54/36, Virginia 59/32.  And when asked to assess the direction of their own state, voters are more positive about their home than the nation but no state makes it to 50 percent saying ‘right track.’  While Virginians are guardedly optimistic at 47 percent right track to 40 percent wrong direction, New Yorkers and New Jerseyans lean negatively.

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“Still, given a chance to vote with their feet when asked across all three states to choose where they would most like to live, a large majority – ninety percent in Virginia, two-thirds in New York and almost six in ten in New Jersey, say, despite any warts, home is sweet home.  Among those with a wandering eye, Virginia calls most loudly as a quarter of both New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are ready to head south,” Redlawsk added.

“Whether we describe our politics as hyper-partisan, divided or gridlocked, this three-state study shows that large majorities of voters from New Jersey, New York and Virginia agree on many issues.  Still, given their sobering agreement on the country currently moving in the wrong direction, they appear more frustrated than optimistic.  At the same time, on some issues including Obamacare, the role of government and abortion, deep divides are evident.  The 2016 Presidential election is a political eternity away.  While some of the issues in this study may be decided by then, it is more likely that Hillary Clinton and the other candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, will need to address both the areas of agreement as well as those on which Americans disagree when the campaign heats up.”

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Filed under Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Education, Gay Marriage, Gun Control, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Immigration, Obama NJ Rating, President Obama

A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Attitudes on Gov. Christie’s State of the State Proposal for a Longer School Day and School Year

By John Masusock and Steven Galante

John Masusock is a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a sophomore at Rutgers University. Steven Galante is a Graduate Eagleton Fellow through the Eagleton Institute of Politics, a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, and a Masters student at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information.

Despite escalating scandals, Gov. Chris Christie put forth some new proposals in his State of the State address a few weeks ago – perhaps the most noteworthy of which was a call for a longer school day and school year.  But support for Christie’s proposal is mixed among New Jerseyans.  In a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll January 14-19, 2014, respondents were asked whether they support both a longer day and year, support a longer year but not longer day, support a longer day but not longer year, or oppose both options.

A plurality of New Jerseyans – 41 percent – opposed both lengthening the school day and the school year, while 31 percent side with the governor and support extending both.  Another 15 percent agree with a longer year but not longer days, while 9 percent favor longer days but not more of them.

Unusually for issues in New Jersey, partisanship does not have any effect on opinions towards Christie’s proposal. Instead, opinions of Christie himself and how he is handling the issue of education do.  More than half of those who are unfavorable toward Christie oppose both a longer school day and year, compared to just 31 percent of those who feel favorably toward him.  Conversely, those with a favorable impression of the governor are 15 points more likely than those who are not to support Christie’s call for a longer school day and year (38 percent to 23 percent).

Even bigger disparities are evident between those who approve and disapprove of Christie’s job performance on education.  While 41 percent of those who approve of Christie’s handling of ”education and schools” support both a longer day and year, only 19 percent who disapprove Christie’s education performance feel the same.  The sentiment is switched for opposition to the plan: 29 percent of those who approve oppose both extensions, versus 57 percent of those who disapprove.  While disapprovers are split on whether there should just be longer days or just longer years, approvers are more than twice as likely to support a longer year than day.

Age additionally plays a big role.  The oldest respondents (65+) are almost twice as likely as the youngest respondents to say they support the plan for both a longer day and year; almost half of 18-29 year olds oppose both, compared to 32 percent of those 65 and over.  With the exception of the youngest age group, those New Jerseyans in the middle on the issue are slightly more likely to support extending the school year but not the school day.

Level of education also seems to have some influence.  Those New Jerseyans with a high school degree or less are least likely to support the proposal – only a quarter supports both a longer day and year versus half who support neither. Those with some college or more are more likely than high school graduates to at least support either a longer day (with the exception of those with graduate work) or longer year, as well as to support both.

America is always competing for the best test scores and education ranking against the rest of the world, and there is competition on the local level, too, with districts constantly ranked in official school quality reports. A longer time in school could have many positive effects on students and their well-being.  But there are many details that have not yet been divulged about Christie’s new proposal that will surely be an issue: building maintenance, meal schedules, busing, teacher compensation, and the additional costs to taxpayers – just to name a few.  Whatever the outcomes here, the majority of opinion does not seem to be on Christie’s side for enacting both options together, but there is some support for some variation of an extended school year or school day.  Just in case, students should try to enjoy those long summers while they still can …

Christie Education Proposal Tables February 2014

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