Category Archives: Rutgers-Eagleton Poll

Looking Back; and Forward

David Redlawsk was Director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling for 7 years. As of August 1, 2016, he is James R. Soles Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

As was announced last month, I am leaving Rutgers to head to the University of Delaware. This means I am also leaving the Directorship of ECPIP, home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. While ECPIP is much more than the poll, that’s what has defined us since it started in 1971. This is not surprising, since the Poll is the most public part of what we do. As one of the (if not THE) oldest academic-based state-focused survey research centers in the country, ECPIP has provided a wealth of information to the public about just what’s going on in the Garden State. As you can see on the ECPIP website, there is even an archive of Rutgers-Eagleton Polls, available to anyone interested, and going back to the very first one. Granted, the archive interface reminds one of the early 1990s web, but the data behind it are incredibly useful.

So this is my last post on our blog. We started the blog a few months after I arrived in 2009 as a way to communicate our findings to the broader public. Since that time ECPIP, under the direct efforts of first Mona Kleinberg (now at UMass Lowell) and then Ashley Koning (now ECPIP’s Interim Director) ECPIP has branched out into social media on Twitter and Facebook, and this blog has become mostly a place where press releases are posted.  But I think it has served a useful purpose.

As I sign off from ECPIP, I have to thank Mona and Ashley and so many other graduate and undergraduate students who have been the backbone of the poll, and of whom we’ve all been so proud as they played a key role in keeping us going. While there are too many to name here, the current staff can be seen at the ECPIP website. I also have to thanks Bill Valocchi, who served as our Field Manager for several years and organized the call center, and Debbie Borie-Holtz, who continues as ECPIP’s special projects manager. Both were critical to whatever success we have had. And a special mention to now Rutgers graduate, and NORC staff member, Liz Kantor, who as an undergraduate became our statistician, among many other roles.

I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to lead ECPIP and the support from Ruth Mandel, the Eagleton Institute’s Director, and John Weingart, Associate Director for the Institute. Coming to Eagleton was a special privilege since it also was a return to the University and Department where I had completed my Ph.D.

We had our ups and downs over the past seven years, but who hasn’t? I like to think that our team revived the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in very challenging times and again positioned it as an important source for New Jersey and the nation in understanding what’s going on in this interesting state. Perhaps I am lucky that my time has overlapped the two terms of Chris Christie, which meant we never ran out of things to study and interest in what we had to say was often very high.

In any case, while I had not anticipated leaving after only 7 years, the possibility of leading an academic department has always interested me. Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware is a vibrant department with a group of scholar/teachers engaged in fascinating research and top-notch teaching. I am looking forward to joining them, though the transition is bittersweet as I leave Rutgers.

To those of you who have read our blog, or our press releases, or anything else we’ve done over the last 7 years, I say thanks. And I also say that in many ways the best is yet to come for ECPIP. I am thrilled that Ashley Koning is taking the helm; she will build the center in new ways that recognize the many changes happening in survey research and public polling. It should be an exciting time for ECPIP even as it is an exciting time for me as I get ready to move to the First State.

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Exciting News from ECPIP!

Leadership Change at Rutgers-Eagleton Polling Unit: Redlawsk to Head Department at U. of Delaware; Koning Takes Reins

Click here for PDF.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, which produces the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, will be in new—but familiar—hands as of July 1, 2016.

Ashley Koning, currently assistant director of the Center for Public Interest Polling, will take over as interim director of ECPIP when Professor David P. Redlawsk, director for the last seven years, leaves Rutgers to become the James R. Soles Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

A Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers with concentrations in American politics, women and politics, and methodology, Koning served as acting director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll while Redlawsk was on leave in 2015.

Koning is a rising scholar in the field and has co-authored multiple book chapters and papers on public opinion, issue framing, and survey experiments. Book chapters include: an analysis of public opinion during and after Superstorm Sandy and its implications for NJ Gov. Chris Christie in the new Rutgers University Press book, “Taking Chances: The Coast after Hurricane Sandy,” edited by Karen M. O’Neill and Daniel J. Van Abs, as well as a longitudinal study of Gov. Christie’s leadership and legacy in “The American Governor: Power, Constraint, and Leadership in The States,” edited by David P. Redlawsk.

Koning has served for several years on councils for both the New York and Pennsylvania-New Jersey chapters of AAPOR (the American Association for Public Opinion Research) and on the national AAPOR membership and chapter relations committee, as well as both the AAPOR and AASRO communications committees. She was awarded the 2015 John Tarnai Memorial Scholarship by the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (AASRO) and has been the recipient of the AAPOR Student Travel Award, the first-ever AAPOR Student Poster Award, and the 2016 Burns “Bud” Roper Fellow Award. A Martinsville, NJ native, Koning earned her master’s in political science from Columbia University and a BA in government and music from Franklin and Marshall College. She now resides in Morristown.

Cliff Zukin, professor of public policy and political science at the Edward J. Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy and at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, will serve as a senior advisor to the Center. Zukin is a former director of the Center and former president of AAPOR.

Koning said, “I am honored to be at the helm of such a prestigious operation that prides itself on a 45-year history of integrity, quality, and objectivity in survey research, and to follow in the footsteps of past directors, who are among some of the most preeminent experts in the field. I look forward to building the center’s future.”

Redlawsk commented, “I have been privileged to work with my colleagues at Eagleton as we investigated New Jerseyans’ opinions on politics and policy. It has been a fascinating time to be part of Eagleton, and I will miss it.”

The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP), home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, was established in 1971. Now celebrating its 45th anniversary and over 200 public opinion polls on the state of New Jersey, ECPIP is the oldest and one of the most respected university-based state survey research centers in the United States.

ECPIP’s mission is to provide scientifically sound, non-partisan information about public opinion. ECPIP conducts research for all levels of government and nonprofit organizations with a public interest mission, as well as college and university-based researchers and staff. ECPIP makes it a priority to design opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to learn how to read, analyze, design, and administer polls. To read more about ECPIP and view all of our press releases and published research, please visit our website: You can also visit ECPIP’s extensive data archive, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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

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

Who Knows? Examining Favorability of the NJ State Legislature

By Robert Cartmell

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


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

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

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

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

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

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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.


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:

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.  


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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