Category Archives: President Obama

NEW JERSEYANS SEE NEW CONGRESS CHANGING COUNTRY’S DIRECTION

Today we look back at the midterm elections. While little changed in New Jersey, the election of course resulted in Democrats losing control of the U.S. Senate.  That word got out pretty far and wide – 8 in 10 New Jerseyans know Republicans are taking over (far more than the 30-something percent that actually voted in November).  There is some expectation that the new Republican-led Congress will change the country’s direction and limit Obama’s ability to get things done (although, since the poll was done we have seen Obama flex his muscles in areas he can direct). New Jerseyans, however, do not expect a rise of bipartisan compromise, as much as they would like to see it.

We also asked people to tell us in a word or two the most important issue they would like the new Congress to “fix” and whether they expect a fix to happen. At the top is the economy (22%) and people are surprisingly optimistic something will get done. Many other topics came up, but for the most part those raising them do not expect much to happen on their most important issue.

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

NEW JERSEYANS SEE NEW CONGRESS CHANGING COUNTRY’S DIRECTION

Rutgers Poll: Nearly half of Garden Staters say GOP majority will limit Obama agenda

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As 2014 winds down, New Jerseyans see both change and continuity for Congress, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. More than half of the state’s residents believe Republican control of the Senate will change the country’s direction, with 19 percent saying things will change a lot, and 38 percent seeing some change coming. About a quarter think GOP control will not make much difference and 16 percent think nothing will change.

The poll, completed before the president’s announcement on normalizing relations with Cuba, also shows limited expectations for the Obama administration’s final two years. Nearly half think Obama will not be able to accomplish much of his agenda in the remainder of his term, while 16 percent expect him to get nothing done at all. Some are more optimistic: 32 percent see Obama getting some things done over the next two years, and 5 percent say he will get a lot done.

“The vast majority of New Jerseyans know control of the Senate is flipping to the Republicans next year, so their expectations are informed by that,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Despite the president’s recent flexing of his executive muscles, it is not unreasonable to think he will have a hard time accomplishing his goals.”

Asked to name their top priority for the new Congress, respondents say the economy and jobs. The 22 percent who want Congress to fix the economy first are somewhat hopeful it might happen. Only two percent say a fix for the economy is “very likely” and another 62 percent say it is somewhat likely Congress will make progress here.
However, 32 percent are dubious, and think action on the economy is not at all likely. But across a full range of issues named by New Jerseyans they are less hopeful: just three percent think it is very likely their most important issue will be addressed, while 43 percent see it as somewhat likely. A plurality, 48 percent, expects no real action on their key issue.

New Jerseyans strongly endorse the idea that compromise is needed in Congress. Two-thirds think compromise is more important than for lawmakers to stick to their individual beliefs. Having said that, residents simultaneously predict there will be little improvement in relations between the parties. Fifty-seven percent say relations will stay the same, 29 percent think they will get even worse, and just 12 percent believe they will get better.

Slightly more registered voters say they voted for a Democrat over a Republican in November’s congressional elections, but they are negative about both parties. Thirty-five percent of all residents hold a positive view of Democrats compared with 28 percent toward Republicans.

Results are from a statewide poll of 750 adults, including 646 registered voters, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Dec. 3-10, 2014, with a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points. The registered voter subsample has a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points.

Residents give GOP upper hand, question Obama’s effectiveness

After November’s GOP tidal wave, Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree that the Republican takeover of the Senate will “change the way things are going in this country.” Most Republicans predict at least some change, with 23 percent expecting “a lot” of change and 55 percent expecting “some” change.

A quarter of Democrats also expect a lot of change, while 30 percent think there will be some change. Independents are slightly less certain of the impact of GOP control of the Senate: just 12 percent say it will have a lot of impact on the country, while another 38 percent say some impact.

The same pattern occurs regardless of views about Obama, the parties in Congress, respondent ideology or the midterm congressional vote; across all of about half or more New Jerseyans say that GOP Senate control will change things in the country, at least to some extent.

Views on Obama’s effectiveness during his remaining time in office are more directly tied to political preferences. Among Democrats, 40 percent think the president will be able to accomplish some of his agenda, but only 7 percent say he will be able to do a lot. Republicans are far more negative: only a quarter expect Obama to accomplish even some of what he wants in his last two years. Half expect little to happen, and another 20 percent see none of Obama’s preferences being implemented. Independents resemble Republicans: one-third think Obama will get at least something done – four percent say “a lot” – while two-thirds believe he will not get much, if anything, accomplished.

Those favorable towards Obama and Democrats in Congress, as well as those who voted for Democrats this past election, are also more likely to believe the president will get something done in the next two years. Surprisingly, those who say GOP control of the Senate will have an impact are slightly more likely than those who feel the opposite to say Obama will have some impact as well.

Doubt about congressional ability to fix top concerns

New Jerseyans say the most important issues for a GOP-led Congress to fix are a blend of perennial and more recent concerns. The economy and jobs is the most frequently mentioned, at 22 percent. Second – probably due to Obama’s executive order just as the poll was taken – is immigration at 12 percent. Health care and taxes tie for third, at nine percent each. Eight percent mention something about bipartisanship or compromise, but only two percent mention gun and crime-related issues. Another two percent name social issues, including race relations.

The economy is tops for all New Jerseyans, but Democrats (at 28 percent) are more likely to name the issue as the top concern compared to Republicans and independents, by eight and nine points, respectively. On the other hand, Republicans and independents are more likely to mention taxes, immigration and Obamacare as their top concern, compared to Democrats.

Those for whom a congressional fix of the economy is most important are somewhat optimistic that it will actually get done, but New Jerseyans with other top concerns do not agree. While the heavy focus on the economy means relatively small numbers of respondents named other issues, among those who did, the trend is toward much less optimism. One-third of immigration advocates doubt anything will happen, while about six in 10 who care about taxes expect nothing to get done. Similarly, half of those who mention health care anticipate no progress on the issue.

“While the small subsamples focused on issues other than the economy mean that we are much less certain of the results, the trends seem pretty clear,” noted Redlawsk. “There is simply more optimism among those who care most about economic issues than anyone else. This may reflect recent news that the economy is, in fact, improving.”

Little expectation for bipartisanship despite desire for compromise

Though many New Jerseyans see change on the horizon, most do not foresee a new era of bipartisanship being ushered in with GOP control of Congress. This is not for lack of desire for lawmakers to work together. Solid majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents think it is more important for legislators to compromise to get laws passed than to stick to their own beliefs. Democrats, probably mindful of the new political landscape, however, are more likely to want comprise, 74 percent compared with 65 percent of independents and 61 percent of Republicans.

More than half of Democrats, Republicans and independents are pessimistic about improved relations in the coming year. But Republicans and, to some extent, independents are about twice as likely as Democrats to say relations will improve. Democrats, instead, believe relations between the two sides will grow even worse; 38 percent say this, compared to about 25 percent of Republicans and independents.

“Things may be changing in Congress in January, but overall, New Jerseyans are uncertain what to expect,” said Redlawsk. “They believe some things may change, but they also remain uncertain about the basic underlying dynamics of Washington getting any better.”

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NEW JERSEYANS SPLIT ON OBAMACARE: BUT 24 PERCENT OF OPPONENTS THINK ‘LAW DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH’

Today we release our latest polling on the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. We find that a majority of New Jerseyans “supports” the ACA, while 40 percent “oppose” it. Opponents are generally more strongly opposed than supporters are strong in support. More importantly, we drill down to ask about the reason for opposition in terms of government involvement in health care.   Not surprisingly, most (71 percent) opponents say they are against Obamacare because it gets the government too involved in health care.  But 24 percent of opponents say they don’t like it because it does NOT go far enough in ensuring access to health care for all. This is not trivial. We tend to think all of those opposed are upset about government overreach. Instead, a significant portion has a very different view – the law did not do enough. Taken as a whole, this suggests only about one in three New Jersayans actually oppose Obamacare as a government overreach.

One other interesting note. The Monmouth Polling Institute released their polling on Obamacare yesterday and they found only a minority of New Jerseyans had a “favorable” view of Obamacare.  How can that square with our finding that 55 percent support the law? This is a classic case of where question wording can make a difference in how we should interpret results. The Monmouth question is:

Given what you know about the health reform law, do you have a generally favorable or generally unfavorable opinion of it? [PROBE: Is that a very or somewhat (favorable/unfavorable) opinion?]

Our question is:

Now let’s talk about health care. From what you have seen or heard about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, do you strongly support it, somewhat support it, somewhat oppose it, or strongly oppose it?

As we have routinely seen with questions about Gov. Christie’s job performance and favorability, asking about a “favorable or unfavorable” opinion is different from asking about “support”, just as it is different than asking about the governor’s job performance. People bring different ideas into their heads depending on how a question is asked. It is very possible that some of the people who told us they “support” the ACA would also say they have a “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of it. That is, one can think it does not do everything you would like, and feel it could have been better, and still “support” it over some unspecified alternative.

So we should not see our two polls as at odds, but instead should see them a complementary, asking about the same issues, but from different perspectives. That’s how we really get a read on public opinion.

Click here for a PDF of the full text, questions, and tables for this release.

NEW JERSEYANS SPLIT ON OBAMACARE: BUT 24 PERCENT OF OPPONENTS THINK ‘LAW DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH’

 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – More New Jerseyans now support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, than are opposed, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. With the first open enrollment period now ended, 26 percent strongly support the ACA, while another 29 percent somewhat support it. Detractors are more intense in their opposition: 28 percent strongly oppose the law while 12 percent are somewhat opposed.

Opposition is not monolithic; 24 percent of opponents believe the law “does not go far enough” in ensuring health care access for all while 71 percent oppose the ACA because they think it “goes too far” in involving government in health care decisions.

“Polls examining support for Obamacare tend not to ask why opponents feel that way,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “When we do, we find that a substantial share of opponents want more, not less, from a government health care program. Only about 30 percent of all New Jersey residents actually object to the law because it goes too far, suggesting a strong base for the goals of Obamacare, even if for some the current law fails to reach those goals.”

Most New Jerseyans, including half of strong Obamacare opponents, think the March 31 open enrollment deadline should have been extended to allow for more enrollments: 74 percent would have liked more time, while 22 percent say an extension was not needed.

Perhaps reflecting a combination of political opposition and a lack of awareness of its details, most respondents said they have personally seen little to no effect from the new health care law.

At the same time, the number who reported having no health insurance has declined from 14 percent to 6 percent since a January Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Still, only 3 percent of respondents said they have bought their health insurance from the online Health Care Exchange.

Results are from a statewide poll of 816 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points, contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from March 31 to April 6.

Partisanship, race divide support for Affordable Care Act

Mirroring the longstanding, bitter partisan battle in Congress over the ACA, the law generates polar opposite views from Democrats and Republicans. Eighty-four percent of Democrats back Obamacare at some level, with half saying they strongly support it. Fourteen percent of Democrats oppose the law, split between somewhat and strongly opposed. Republicans, on the other hand, are almost wholly in the opposite camp. Reflecting GOP opposition to Obamacare in Congress, 79 percent of Republicans are against the law, with 63 percent strongly opposed.

About half of independents support Obamacare, but that support is lukewarm; only 16 percent are strong supporters, while 33 percent are somewhat supportive. Opponents are more intense in their distaste: 30 percent strongly oppose the law and 14 percent somewhat oppose it.

Support for Obamacare also shows a significant racial divide. Half of whites they oppose the act, with 35 percent strongly opposed. Only 19 percent strongly support the law, while 27 percent somewhat support it. In contrast, nearly all black New Jerseyans offer some support: 57 percent are strong supporters and 35 percent are somewhat supportive.

Education also makes a difference in ACA support. Respondents with graduate level work are 16 to 18 points more likely to support the law than those with a high school education or some college. They are also nine points more likely than those with a college degree to support the ACA.

Senior citizens oppose the law, 50 percent to 44 percent who support it. While those 18-34 years old are more supportive of President Obama in general, they are less passionate proponents of the law: just 19 percent give it strong support, compared to 28 percent of seniors. But 40 percent of these millennials somewhat support Obamacare, bringing their overall level of support to 59 percent.

Attitudes towards President Obama also play a large role in ACA acceptance. Eighty-three percent of the president’s supporters favor the law, but the opposite is true is among Obama’s detractors, 65 percent of whom strongly oppose Obamacare. Those favorable toward Obama are more evenly split between somewhat and strongly supporting the law.

But whether for or against the ACA, most say the enrollment deadline should have been extended past March 31: 84 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents, and 57 percent of Republicans feel an extension was called for. Even more than half of the law’s strongest opponents agree that individuals should have been given more time to apply.

Obamacare detractors split on why they are opposed        

While the media focuses on Obamacare opponents who see the law as an example of government overreach, in New Jersey 24 percent of opponents actually want more from a health care program, including 21 percent of independents and 14 percent of Republicans.

While there is no gender gap in general support of the ACA, women opponents are more likely than men (28 percent to 21 percent) to think the law does not do enough to ensure healthcare access for all, while men (77 percent to 66 percent) are more likely to say the law goes too far. Also, better educated respondents are more likely to support Obamacare in general, but less educated opponents think the law does not do enough.

“The widespread belief that the public does not want health care reform fails to account for the many opponents who are actually unhappy because Obamacare doesn’t go far enough,” noted Redlawsk. “I suspect many supporters would also like to see more, but are willing to take what is available as a first step. Together, these two groups – opponents who want more and supporters of the current law – make up a broad-based majority of New Jersey residents.”

New Jerseyans see little effect so far

Supporters and opponents alike say they have so far personally experienced few, if any, effects from the new health care law. Only 9 percent of New Jerseyans say the Affordable Care Act has mostly helped them so far and 17 percent say the law has hurt them. Most, 71 percent, say the law has not made much of a difference in their lives.

This finding cuts across partisan lines, Redlawsk said; 76 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents say they have experienced little difference. Sixty percent of Republicans say the same, but a sizeable portion, 31 percent, also says the law has hurt them thus far.

While virtually no white residents say Obamacare has thus far made a positive difference in their lives, black residents are five times more likely to report positive effects. Even so, only a quarter of blacks have been positively affected, while the majority of both blacks and whites say they have seen little change. While the consensus is that the ACA has had little effect, lower income and urban residents are more likely to say the law has helped. While all age groups mostly say the ACA has made no difference, senior citizens are most likely to feel this way, at 80 percent.

The president’s backers, unsurprisingly, are more likely to say the ACA has helped (15 percent), while his detractors are more likely to say it has been a detriment (38 percent).

“Obamacare remains a polarizing law, even as most people say they’ve seen few effects from it so far,” said Redlawsk. “Opposition is not tied to personal experience. Rather, it is clearly an ideological litmus test for many. Even though the law carries both benefits and costs, most New Jerseyans so far seem to think Obamacare has relatively little to do with them personally, even as they stake out a position on either side.”

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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.

SNAG-002

“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.

SNAG-001

“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 … The Initial Rollout of the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey

Mixed Views on Affordable Care Act; Numbers on Healthcare.gov Sign Up

By Max Mescall, Ian McGeown, and Liz Kantor

Max Mescall is a research intern at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a junior at Rutgers University. Ian McGeown is an Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and is a sophomore at Rutgers University. Liz Kantor is an Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program sophomore at Rutgers University. 

 It would be hard to find someone living in the United States that has not heard the term “Obamacare” thrown around in the media in the past few years. After much debate and discussion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is finally starting to take effect as Americans can now make decisions about what kind of healthcare coverage to select, either through HealthCare.gov or their own state-based marketplace where applicable.

Our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that New Jerseyans have somewhat mixed views on the Affordable Care Act.  A majority at least somewhat supports the ACA, pretty evenly split between 26 percent somewhat supporting and 28 percent strongly supporting the law.  But those who do not like the ACA are more likely to express strong than middling opposition: 28 percent strongly oppose, while 12 percent are somewhat opposed.

Unsurprisingly there is a clear partisan divide: 44 percent of Democrats give strong support, compared to just 20 percent of independents and 5 percent of Republicans. While an overwhelming majority of Democrats support the law at some level, just under half of independents feel the same while 8 in 10 Republicans are at least somewhat opposed.

Since most NJ residents have health insurance already either through their work (47 percent) or through Medicare (13 percent) or Medicaid (3 percent), as of mid-January relatively few had actually used Healthcare.gov to try to purchase a new health insurance policy. Just 14 percent reported attempts to use the site, not surprising since the vast majority of New Jerseyans already had insurance through other sources.

Among those who attempted to use the site, about two-thirds say they actually obtained insurance from it. Among this small number of respondents (less than 10 percent of the full sample), 25 percent find that it was less expensive than their prior insurance, just slightly fewer (22 percent) say it was more expensive, and around the same number (23 percent) say it was about the same cost. Nine percent are not sure. Another 21 percent who successfully signed up could not compare to previous insurance rates because they did not have insurance before purchasing through the exchange.

Overall, a large majority says the ACA has had little effect on them and their families so far.  Just over two-thirds (67 percent) of New Jerseyans say the ACA has had little effect, while 11 percent say it has helped their families, and 17 percent say it has done more harm than good.  But this sentiment is again divided across partisan lines: Republicans are approximately five times more likely than Democrats to say the law has hurt them (34 percent versus 7 percent), though the majority within each party sees little effect yet.

In the end, of course, most New Jerseyans, as with most people nationwide, are already covered by insurance before Obamacare, so for most, the insurance exchanges don’t really make any difference. At the same time, it seems clear that New Jerseyans are not focused on benefits of the program beyond the exchanges – including keeping children on parent’s policies to age 26, elimination of lifetime caps, and removal of pre-existing limitations. That seems to be the only way to explain why few New Jersey respondents say they have seen any benefits in the new law.

In general, Obama’s job grade is still high in the “blue” state of New Jersey, with 60 percent feeling favorably toward the president – though this positivity is driven mostly by the 88 percent of Democrats who feel this way.  About half of independents and only 14 percent of Republicans feel the same.  Predictably, Obama’s favorability has a strong relationship to opinions on the Affordable Care Act.  Favorable impressions steadily increase and negative impressions correspondingly decrease with each successive level of support for the health care law.  In turn, those more favorable toward Obama are more likely to support the law, and those who are more unfavorable are more likely to oppose it.  Obama’s job grade follows similar patterns.

Results are from a statewide poll of 826 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Jan 14 – 19.

Jan 2014 Health Care Questions and Tables

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