Category Archives: Rutgers


Click here to read this release on the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll website.


Redlawsk to focus on Iowa Caucuses and 2016 nomination campaign for fall semester

 NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Ashley Koning has been named assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University, ECPIP director David Redlawsk announced today. As assistant director, Koning will be responsible for the day-to-day management for the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Koning had been a graduate assistant for ECPIP for the past three years and is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Rutgers.

“Ashley has already developed many innovations, including our extensive internship program, in her three years at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll,” said Redlawsk. “And she’s especially skilled at explaining complex findings to the public. As a New Jersey native, Ashley has a keen understanding of politics and policy in our state. In her new role, her responsibilities will expand to overseeing all aspects of the Poll, including media relations.”

Koning holds a master’s degree in political science from Columbia University and a BA in government from Franklin & Marshall College. Prior to arriving at Rutgers, she held a private sector survey research position, followed by an assistantship at Siena Research Institute, home of the Siena New York Poll. Koning has co-authored multiple book chapters and papers on public opinion, issue framing, and survey experiments, and her dissertation work has been recognized by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). She holds positions on the boards of both the New York and Pennsylvania/New Jersey chapters of AAPOR. She also teaches an undergraduate course on public opinion at Rutgers.

Redlawsk also announced that he will spend the fall academic semester as a Fellow at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. At Drake he will focus on the presidential nomination process during the run-up to the February 1, 2016 Iowa Caucuses.

A nationally recognized expert on the Iowa Caucus process, Redlawsk is lead author of the book Why Iowa? (University of Chicago Press, 2011) which examines the outsized role the Iowa Caucuses play in the presidential nomination process While in Iowa, Redlawsk will remain available for commentary on the shape of the 2016 presidential campaign,, and in particular on N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s bid to secure the Republican nomination.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, founded in 1971, will celebrate its 200th New Jersey poll in December, continuing its traditional focus on New Jersey policy and politics. During the upcoming academic year polls will be released approximately every two months. The next Rutgers-Eagleton Poll will be in the field from July 25–31, with results announced during the first two weeks of August. ECPIP is a charter member of the AAPOR Transparency Initiative.

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Quick thoughts on the election

As we noted the other day, we had planned to do a pre-election poll in New Jersey but those plans were stopped by Superstorm Sandy. As it turns out, might not have made much difference. When we last polled – 5 weeks ago! – we had President Obama up by 17 points over Romney in the state. In doing so, we seemed a bit of an outlier. As it turns out, looks like the president won by, you guessed it, 17 points.

In that poll, we had the ballot question on a bond issue for higher education at 62% support. Last night it won 61%.

We were off, however, on the judge’s pay ballot issue, which won 83% of the vote – we pegged it at only 70% support.

Not that we think polling 5 weeks ahead of the election is a good indicator of what will happen on election day. But at least in the NJ presidential race, nothing happened – we were not a battleground, so we had no campaign. With no campaign, the numbers simply didn’t move.
One thing that is annoying today is the “No Change Election” meme being floated. Yes, it is true that Obama is still president, the Republicans still have the House, and the Democrats still have the Senate. BUT, on a national level, real change is evident. Instead of losing Senate seats, Democrats picked up, and may now have a 55-45 margin (including the two independents) up from 53-47 before the election. That small change is evidence of something underneath the overall numbers, and that something drove not only Obama’s re-election but also state level results like the passing of same sex marriage in three states (MD, ME, WA) when it has NEVER won a popular vote before, and the failure of a one-man-one-woman constitutional amendment in Minnesota. California actually voted to tax itself for education. Women made historic gains in the U.S. Senate. And other small, yet significant, changes appear below the national level.

These changes are driven by fundamental changes in the electorate. Young people are voting and have very different attitudes on race, gender, and social issues than do their elders. And Latino’s made up 10 percent of the electorate, with significant consequences. There is change, it is just hard to see if you only look at the big picture.

At the presidential level, our initial simple assessment is that Obama won in the end because:

The electorate in the United States is changing. More Hispanic voters that ever showed up to vote (they made up about 10% of all voters) and they overwhelmingly voted for Obama. In addition, 93 percent of African Americans voted Obama. Young voters (under 30) also strongly supported him. Whites made up only 72 percent of the electorate, continuing a steady decline in influence. Even though they went for Romney, it is no longer enough to have an overwhelmingly white electoral coalition.

Obama’s voter mobilization operation was better than Romney’s. Obama had many more campaign offices and people “on the ground” doing the hard work of getting people to go to the polls to vote. That allowed him to win a number of close states.

Voters did not like Mitt Romney as much as Obama and they did not blame Obama as much as they did former President Bush for the economic problems. They seem willing to give Obama more time to make things better.

That’s our no-pre-election-poll wrap up. We will be back in the field soon with a post-election poll and our initial look at the 2013 elections. Yep, they’ve already started…

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Gay Marriage, NJ Voters, Rutgers, Taxes

NJ voters support higher ed bond; making judges pay more for benefits

On Wednesday we released our latest numbers on the presidential race in New Jersey, and that story is one of relatively little change, though perhaps increased voting likelihood among some Democratic leaning voters leading to a slight increase for Obama. In applying our likely voter screen – the same screen we started using last month, which includes  vote intent, campaign interest, attention to politics, and 2010 turnout – we found a slight increase in Democratic turnout, stability among Republicans, and a decline among self-described independents. On top of that, we found more Democrats in our registered voter sample than the previous month. Does that mean our sample was skewed? We don’t think so, since our sampling methods did not change. But Democrats were more energized after the conventions. As a party is doing better in how people perceive it, it tends to gain among voters, since partisanship is not a fixed characteristic, but instead a sense of affiliation.

In any case, today we release additional numbers on two ballot issues facing New Jersey voters this fall. One is on a $750 million bond issue for higher education facilities. The other is a state constitutional amendment that, if passed, will allow the legislature to require state judges to pay more for their benefits (as other state workers have had to) without it being considered a reduction in compensation.

This is the first time we’ve asked about the judge’s benefits, but we asked about the bond twice before, once back in February when it wasn’t certain it would be on the ballot, and again last month. We see significantly more support for the bond this month, suggesting it has a good chance of passing. As for the judges, they will almost certainly be paying more for the benefits after the election.

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


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Large majorities of likely New Jersey voters support each of two key issues that will be on the November ballot, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. A proposed $750 million higher education bond issue garners 62 percent support, up from 56 percent a month ago. Only 27 percent of voters oppose the bond, while 11 percent are unsure.

Even more voters – 70 percent – support a state constitutional amendment allowing the Legislature to require judges to pay more for their benefits. On this issue, just 18 percent of voters are opposed, while 12 percent have not made up their minds.

The higher education bond designates the money for new academic buildings and technological upgrades at New Jersey colleges and universities. The judges’ benefits amendment was placed on the ballot after a heated battle between the Legislature and state Supreme Court over whether the former could require judges to pay more toward their pensions and health insurance.

“As we get closer to the election, support for the higher education bond seems to be solidifying, reflecting the lack of vocal opposition so far,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “The benefits amendment is even more popular, most likely reflecting a sense that judges, too, should be subject to the same increases in costs that all other state workers have endured.”

Results are from a poll of 790 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from September 27-30. Within this sample, 619 respondents are identified as likely voters and are the subjects of this release. The likely voter sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Bond support continues to climb

Support for the higher education bond issue has climbed steadily during the year, including a six-point jump since late August, as more independents have come on board while opposition has remained steady. Voters were much more divided – 48 percent for, 45 percent against – when the potential bond issue was thought to be more than $1 billion in early 2012. The reduction to $750 million appears to have made it much more palatable, Redlawsk noted.

Likely Democratic voters remain the strongest supporters (76 percent). Independent (57 percent) and Republican (46 percent) support has increased since August.

By 93 percent to 54 percent, blacks are stronger supporters of the bond issue than whites. Moreover, black support since August has increased 19 points while white support grew by only 3 points. The disparity is most likely due to a significant drop in blacks who say they are unsure (by 18 percentage points), while the number of whites who are uncertain has dropped by only six points.

“As black voters have become more aware of the bond issue, they’ve become stronger supporters,” said Redlawsk. “White voters are much less likely to support the bond, but their support at least has held steady.”

Though a majority of voters at all education levels support the new higher education funding, support increases with level of education attained. Voters who attended one of the Rutgers campuses are more likely than other college graduates to support the plan, at 69 percent. In addition, younger voters are much more positive – 81 percent of those ages 18 to 34 plan to vote yes, compared to 57 percent of those 65 or older. Support from younger voters is up 11 points since August, and up eight points among seniors.

Regionally, support among shore residents increased 16 points since August while support among voters in exurban areas declined by 6 points.

Voters want judges to contribute more

The amendment to have judges contribute more to the cost of their benefits has widespread support across nearly all groups. Overwhelming majorities of likely GOP (75 percent) and independent (73 percent) voters favor the amendment, as do two-thirds of Democrats.

Men are stronger supporters of the amendment than women: 74 percent to 67 percent. Whites are also more likely to support it than blacks, 72 percent to 66 percent. The differences are small and support is well above a majority in key demographic groups, Redlawsk observed.

“It is hard to imagine the judges’ benefits amendment failing to pass,” said Redlawsk. “For most voters, it seems like the right thing to do, even if the judges themselves argue it amounts to a reduction in pay. Voters don’t seem swayed by the argument that judge’s pay is related to judicial independence and therefore sacrosanct.”


Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Rutgers

Rutgers-Camden/Rowan Merger Still Unpopular; UMDNJ-Rutgers Reconfiguration Gets More Support

Today we revisit public opinion on the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden with Rowan University, following up on a poll we did in February on this topic. Six weeks ago we found strong opposition. Today the story hasn’t changed. New Jersey voters still overwhelmingly oppose the plan – and for once Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all united in their opposition.

We added a question this time on the other reconfiguration under way – the separation of parts of UMDNJ and merger of them with Rutgers-New Brunswick. This plan is about twice as popular as the Rowan plan, though to be fair that leaves it quite short of majority support. On both plans a large number of voters tell us they “don’t know” what they think, not surprisingly since the issue is clearly complex.

The full release follows. For a PDF of the release with questions and tables, click here.


Merger with parts of UMDNJ gets more support

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – Opposition to the merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University continues unabated, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Statewide, 59 percent of registered voters oppose the merger, while 19 percent support it and 22 percent are unsure of their position. The poll shows little change since an early February Rutgers-Eagleton Poll that found 57 percent opposition and 22 percent support.

“Those working toward the merger have apparently not made their case to New Jerseyans over the past six weeks,” said poll Director David Redlawsk, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “We’ve seen virtually no movement despite the very public debate on the issue.”

Voters are more supportive of the proposed merger of Rutgers with the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the School of Public Health – all units of the University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey (UMDNJ). A slight plurality (38 percent to 34 percent) favors the takeover while 28 percent say they don’t know.

“The issues surrounding these changes are complex, so it is not surprising to see such uncertainty,” said Redlawsk. “But among those who do have an opinion, twice as many support the Rutgers-UMDNJ changes as support Rowan taking over the Rutgers-Camden campus.”

Results are from a poll of 601 New Jersey adults, including a subsample of 518 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from March 21-27. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.

Opposition to Rutgers-Camden/Rowan merger remains high

The proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden with Rowan University has been championed by Gov. Chris Christie following a recommendation by a commission established to examine a possible merger of Rutgers with portions of UMDNJ. Opposition remains broad and deep, with Democrats, independents, and even Republicans united against the plan.

Opposition by Democrats has actually increased by 10 points to 77 percent, while only 9 percent are now in favor. Republican voters’ opinions on the merger have not changed since February. Only 33 percent favor combining Rowan and Rutgers, while 41 percent oppose the plan. Nearly half of independent voters oppose the plan, little different from the 52 percent opposed six weeks ago.  Independent support is virtually unchanged as well at 21 percent.

“Opposition to this proposal remains bipartisan,” said Redlawsk. “While Republicans are somewhat more supportive, a plurality remains opposed despite the governor’s vocal support.”

There is surprisingly little difference between respondents with ties to either Rowan or Rutgers. About 25 percent of voters with a household member who has enrolled in a Rutgers course on any campus favor the merger. Of the small number of respondents with a Rowan connection, 34 percent express support. “Interestingly, opposition is stronger among voters without a Rutgers connection than with one,” said Relawsk.

Support for Rutgers-UMDNJ reconfiguration

While strongly opposed to the Rutgers-Camden and Rowan merger, voters are more inclined to move significant parts of UMDNJ to Rutgers-New Brunswick.

“Support for the Rutgers-UMDNJ plan remains well below a majority because so many simply have no opinion. But even so, that proposal gets twice the support of the Rowan merger,” noted Redlawsk. “Voters clearly differentiate between the two plans, though in both cases many remain uncertain despite – or perhaps because of – the ongoing public debate.”

Republicans are stronger backers of the Rutgers-UMDNJ merger than Democrats, 42 percent to 33 percent; 39 percent of independents approve of the plan. Only 26 percent of Republicans oppose the merger, compared to 43 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents.

“Unlike the proposed merger in south Jersey, the UMDNJ plan shows the more typical partisan split we see on issues championed by Governor Christie,” said Redlawsk. “This may well reflect the fact that the Rowan plan very publicly involves both the governor and key Democratic figures in south Jersey, muddling the partisan differences.”

In contrast to their opposition to the Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University merger, voters with a Rutgers connection or a Rowan connection both support the merger between Rutgers and UMDNJ. There is virtually no difference between the two groups, with about 45 percent of each supporting the plan, while about 30 percent oppose it.

Few regional differences on both plans

As reported in February, voters in southern New Jersey remain no more likely to support the merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University than in other parts of the state. “The small difference we see is not statistically significant, though the number of don’t knows is up for South Jerseyans, which mean overt opposition has dropped somewhat,” said Redlawsk. “But this has been offset by Shore county voters, whose greater uncertainty has been replaced by more opposition.”

There are also few regional differences in support for the UMDNJ plan. Exurban voters appear to show somewhat less support than those in other parts of the state, while Shore county voters are the most supportive.

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For PDF of full release with questions and tables, click here.

We’re very busy here at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Last two days it has been same-sex marriage. Today we turn to higher education in New Jersey. While we don’t have a plethora (love that word!) of questions on education this time around, we do have two related to issues in the political/policy environment. The first question we asked was about a higher education bond issue being discussed as a possibility for the November ballot. There hasn’t been a facilities bond for colleges and universities since 1988. The idea is to borrow on a bond to improve existing facilities and construct new ones across the state. Turns out NJ voters are about evenly split on it – it’s a hard question whether to borrow now to help colleges, or to worry that government has simply borrowed too much.

The second question is much more hot button. dealing with the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University, a merger supported by Gov. Chris Christie. Here there is no ambivalence. Opposition to the proposed merger is wide and deep as we detail in today’s poll release. At least so far, Garden Staters are not convinced that this is the way to go.

We should note that we are not completely innocent bystanders in either of these issues. Obviously, as an academic center at Rutgers University – New Brunswick, we potentially may be affected by either of these issues, though quite indirectly at best. However, we did our best with these questions – as we do with all others – to design balanced questions that would tap public opinion fairly. And we report the numbers as we get them. Given that the other numbers in this poll (both yesterday’s and releases to come) seem to make sense in the context of NJ, we are comfortable that our processes were appropriate for this poll overall. Whether we asked exactly the right questions is a more subjective thing, and reasonable people may disagree. More to the point, asking the same basic question in multiple ways may come up with variations in opinion. However, the reality is that when we do a statewide poll on a number of topics, we are limited as to how many questions we can ask on any one topic. But we publish the exact text of our questions, so feel free to read them by clicking on the fullt ext link below and critique away!

Full text of today’s release follows.  For PDF of full release with questions and tables, click here.


Potential higher education bond issue evenly divides voters

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – A clear majority of New Jersey’s registered voters – 57 percent – oppose the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden with Rowan University, recently championed by Gov. Chris Christie, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Only 22 percent support the merger and 21 percent are unsure, the poll found.

Concurrently, voters are split in supporting a higher education facilities bond: 48 percent favor borrowing for improvements at the state’s colleges and universities, and 45 percent do not.

Voters in South Jersey are no more supportive of the merger of the two schools than in the rest of the state. Instead, the highest support is found in northwestern New Jersey and the Shore counties, two areas that are strong backers of Christie. Even in these regions, however, many more voters oppose the merger than support it.

“Governor Christie’s plan to merge Rowan and Rutgers-Camden may be the most unpopular idea he has put forward to date,” said Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Director David Redlawsk, a professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. “Generally, he can count on support from a majority of Republicans. We might also expect voters in South Jersey to be in favor, given the benefits Christie says will come from the merger. But in reality, neither of these groups, or any other, comes close to supporting it.”

Results are from a poll of 914 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Feb. 9-11. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.

Opposition to merger plan is broad and deep

While GOP voters usually support Christie’s policies, in this case they clearly do not. Though twice as likely as Democrats to support the merger, only 32 percent favor combining the two universities, while 49 percent oppose the plan. Few Democrats support the merger, with only 16 percent in favor and 67 percent opposed. Nearly 20 percent of both parties are unsure. Independent voters are 2-to-1 opposed, but nearly one-quarter of independents are unsure where they stand.

The merger plan does best among those with a favorable impression of the governor, and among the wealthiest Garden Staters, but even most of these voters are skeptical. While the plan garners 30 percent support from those who like Christie, 44 percent of his supporters oppose it. Not surprisingly, those with an unfavorable opinion of Christie are overwhelmingly opposed, at 14 percent support and 71 percent opposition.

One-third of voters with household incomes over $150,000 support the governor’s plan, while 39 percent oppose it, and 28 percent have no opinion. On the opposite end of the financial spectrum, voters in households with annual incomes under $50,000 are firmly against merging Rowan and Rutgers-Camden: 63 percent are opposed and only 16 percent in favor. About one-quarter of the remaining income groups support the plan and about 60 percent do not.

Despite the potential benefits to South Jersey, voters in the region are not convinced. Mimicking the statewide numbers, 19 percent of those living in Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties support the plan, while 71 percent oppose it. South Jersey voters are much less likely to be unsure, at only 10 percent. Residents of the Shore counties are least opposed, with 44 percent negative, the only region to have less than a majority against the merger, and 27 percent in favor. But 30 percent of these voters are unsure of their position on the issue, the highest in the state.

“The stunning thing about these numbers is simply how negative voters are about the plan,” said Redlawsk. “We thought those living in South Jersey would be more supportive than most, since the proposal is put forward as significant enhancement for the region. But the reality is this is a deeply disliked proposal.”

New Jerseyans split on education bond

While Christie is proposing to remake higher education in South Jersey, leaders of the state’s colleges and universities are considering whether the time is right to put a higher education facilities bond issue on the November ballot. If voted on today, the result would be a toss-up.

Forty-eight percent of respondents would have the state take on more debt to build and refurbish college facilities, thus creating construction jobs, but 45 percent say it is a bad time to take on more debt, and oppose the measure. Only 8 percent are not sure where they stand.

Democrats are stronger supporters of the bond issue than Republicans. Sixty-three percent of Democrats are in support of the bond issue and 27 percent oppose. Only 35 percent of Republicans are in favor, while 59 percent oppose borrowing for college facilities. Independents respond similarly to Republicans: 39 percent are in support of the bond and 53 percent oppose it.

Voters with an unfavorable opinion of Christie are more supportive of the bond: 59 percent support borrowing, while 34 percent think it is a bad time for more debt. Among those who think favorably of Christie, only 37 percent support and 56 percent oppose a bond issue.

There appears to be a limited relationship between support for the bond issue and opposition to the merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University. Half of merger opponents support a higher education bond issue, while 45 percent of supporters also favor borrowing for facilities. This small difference is likely accounted for by partisanship – Republicans are more likely to support the merger, and less likely to support the bond issue proposal.

Whites are weaker supporters of the measure than blacks. Only 45 percent of whites support the bond proposal compared to 56 percent of African-Americans. Forty-seven percent of whites and 35 percent of blacks oppose the bond. Regional differences are minimal: urban voters are more supportive, but there are no differences among other regions of the state.

“Borrowing right now is a tricky business,” said Redlawsk. “While interest rates are at historic lows making borrowing costs as low as they are ever likely to be, voters are generally dubious about governments taking on more debt. At the same time, New Jersey voters seem at least inclined to consider a bond issue, if one is put forward.”


Filed under Chris Christie, Rowan, Rutgers, Rutgers-Camden