Category Archives: Washington

NJ Obama Re-elect; Republican Primary

We’re coming toward the end of the releases on our latest poll. Two more after today – one on attitudes toward same-sex marriage and the other on the burning question of whether New Jersey voters prefer Jersey Corn or Jersey Tomatoes! Stay tuned next week for that one…

Today we add a little more context to Pres. Obama’s deteriorating situation in New Jersey. As we have already discussed, his favorability ratings have declined along with his job performance ratings. Here we also report that the President’s “re-elect” number looks bad as well. When we ask people if he “deserves a second term” only 43 percent say yes, down from 48 percent in February. The no’s are at 47 percent, up from 39 percent six months ago. Why? Well, frustration and anger at Washington, and, I suspect, the economy itself, are fueling this. We have numbers on the first, though not on the economy.

One very small ray of good news from the president’s perspective, I suppose, is that fewer NJ voters say the Obama administration is un-American or Obama is a socialist than last year. As for the Republicans, Rick Perry’s entrance came as we were polling, and we find that while Republicans only only somewhat satisfied with the field as it stands, those we polled after his entry into the race are more satisfied than those we polled beforehand. Still the plurality of NJ Republican voters  can’t name a preference when asked an open ended question, and no one candidate (Romney) gets more than 16 percent. A long way to go until the Republican race settles down. The full text of the press release follows. You can get a PDF of the text and associated tables here.


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Only 43 percent of New Jersey’s registered voters think President Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected in 2012, down from 48 percent in February 2011, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Another 47 percent say Obama does not deserve to be re-elected, up from 39 percent in February. Meanwhile, the state’s Republican voters are not overly enthusiastic about their potential nominees, with only 3 percent “very satisfied,” 56 percent “somewhat satisfied” and 31 percent “not satisfied” with the GOP field.

“The continuing economic climate, coupled with voter frustration at Washington, has created feelings of discontent that are clearly hurting the president’s chances for re-election,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “The dramatic decline in support for Obama comes mostly from independents. Even so, it doesn’t seem Republicans are particularly happy with their options.”

Results are from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of 615 registered voters conducted among both landline and cell phone households from August 9 – 15, with a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Independents drive Obama re-election down sharply

While 80 percent of Democrats continue to support Obama, only 7 percent of Republicans want to see him re-elected, half of the 14 percent who said so in February 2011. Independents have turned away from Pres. Obama, with only 33 percent saying he deserves a second term, while 47 percent say the president does not deserve re-election.

About 20 percent of independents want to see the deficit crisis in Washington resolved only using across-the-board budget cuts, and more than three-quarters of them say Obama does not deserve a new term. But so do nearly half of the 42 percent of independents who want both tax increases and cuts.

“Despite his best efforts to find middle ground, the president is losing favor with independent voters here,” noted Redlawsk. “It seems possible this is a direct repudiation of his approach to the debt crisis and the economy. Most independents want at least some tax increases on the rich to help fix the deficit, and many may feel Obama has failed to follow through on his own demands for increased revenues. Given more independents were against rather than for the debt ceiling agreement, this seems one likely reason for Obama’s decline in New Jersey. ”

Ambivalent, angry and frustrated voters oppose Obama second term

Support for a second term is strongly related to voters’ impressions of the president; 88 percent with a favorable impression support re-election. The same percentage with an unfavorable view says Obama does not deserve a second term. Among the 12 percent uncertain about the President, 43 percent do not support a second term, compared to 24 percent who do.

Anger and frustration with Washington generally spills over to opposing Obama’s re-election. Large percentages of voters are angry (73 percent) or believe Washington “no longer works” (69 percent). Among these groups, support for a second Obama term is weak: half of those angered by Washington do not support a second term, as do 54 percent of those believing Washington is dysfunctional. Forty percent of angry voters support a second term, but only 37 percent who see Washington as broken agree.

“Most voters are angry and certain Washington doesn’t work. But that anger is not only directed at the president,” Redlawsk said. “We recently showed that more New Jerseyans actually blame Republicans in Congress for the debt ceiling crisis – Tea Party and mainstream – but the anger at Washington spreads well beyond the House and Senate chambers.”

Many Voters say Obama does not understand them

While a slim majority of voters says that “President Obama understands people like me,” 44 percent disagree. Those who say Obama understands them are very supportive of re-election, with 72 percent saying he deserves a new term. Among voters who think Obama does not understand them, a whopping 86 percent say the president should not be returned to office.

“People want the president to show empathy and having nearly half of voters believe Obama does not understand them is a recipe for failure,” said Redlawsk, who noted 18 months ago, only 36 percent thought he was “disconnected from people like me.”

At the same time, voters are less likely to hold more extreme views of the president than in a September 2010 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, when 25 percent said the administration was “un-American” and 39 percent saw the President as a “socialist.” Only 15 percent now see the administration as un-American, while 29 percent still perceive Obama as a socialist.

Republicans less than completely satisfied with choices

A majority (56 percent) of New Jersey Republicans and GOP-leaning independents report being only “somewhat satisfied” with their choices for a 2012 challenger. Just 3 percent reported being very satisfied; 31 percent are not satisfied with the current field of candidates, and another 10 percent are not sure how they feel.

Asked an open-ended question about their preference, 40 percent of Republican voters could not name any candidate, about the same as in a February poll (42 percent). Among Republicans and leaners, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (16 percent, three points higher than February) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (14 percent) are essentially tied. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a distant third at 6 percent, one point higher than Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman.

“The general sense that Republicans nationwide are still searching for a standard-bearer to take on President Obama is reinforced in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “Governor Christie’s numbers say nothing more than Republicans take him at his word that he is not running for president.”

Tea Party Republicans more satisfied, also split between Romney and Perry

Tea Party supporters (52 percent of Republicans) feel differently about their choices than do other Republicans. Almost seven-in-10 (68 percent) are more likely to be at least somewhat satisfied, compared to only 47 percent of other Republicans, and less likely to have no preference (only one-third cannot name a choice). As was true in February, Romney is the candidate of choice among Tea Party supporters (20 percent). Perry is easily within the margin of error for this small subsample at 16 percent, nine points higher than Bachman.

Perry May Shake up race

Perry’s candidacy may cause New Jersey Republicans to re-evaluate the field – only about half were surveyed after his announcement. After he entered the race, GOP satisfaction for their candidates increased 11 points to 61 percent “Even with a small sample, we see a trend toward fewer Republicans favoring Romney and more naming Perry,” Redlawsk said.



Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Obama NJ Rating, Washington

New Numbers on Christie and Obama in NJ

Well, we are working hard this week here at the poll. While we already had one release this morning, these data are too interesting to hold over the weekend, so we are also releasing our findings on evaluations of Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama. Quick summary – Obama has dropped quite a bit in NJ, losing support from both liberals and moderates. For quite a while his rating held up well above Gov. Christie’s. Now they are both in the same place. As for the governor, while his favorables have not changed much, his job performance grade has dropped and more voters currently say they would prefer someone else in 2013 than want to re-elect him. It’s a tough time out there for all leaders. Voters are generally unhappy, and are taking it out on both sides.

As usual the text of the release follows. You can get a PDF of the text plus all tables and questions here.


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – New Jersey voters have become noticeably less positive about President Barack Obama, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today. Obama’s favorable rating has dropped to 44 percent, down 11 points from an April 2011 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, while another 44 percent view him unfavorably, up 12 points.

Over the same period, support for Gov. Chris Christie is mostly unchanged, at 45 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, compared to 44 percent to 42 percent four months ago. Even so, this is the first Rutgers-Eagleton Poll to show feelings about Christie more negative than positive, though the difference is within the margin of error for the poll. Asked if they would vote to re-elect Gov. Christie or prefer someone else, 42 percent say they would vote for Christie, while 49 percent would support someone else.

“The debt ceiling mess in Washington, along with the general economic malaise, has clearly taken its toll on how Garden Staters view the President,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Particularly significant are drops among both independents and Democrats. After having a mostly positive view of Obama, independents have shifted distinctly negative, while Democrats have become far less positive as well. Given his easy win in New Jersey in 2008, these results are even more striking. At the same time, Gov. Christie’s prospects are also tough.”

Results are from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of 615 registered voters conducted among both landline and cell phone households from August 9 – 15, with a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

White Voters’ Support for Obama Weak

Much of the change in Obama’s favorability stems from white voters, who have become very -negative toward the president. More than half of whites (54 percent) view Obama unfavorably, while only 34 percent have a favorable view. Blacks remain strongly supportive, but even that support has slipped a few points, to 78 percent favorable and 12 percent unfavorable. Obama has lost support from both the middle and the left, with moderates evenly split 43 percent to 41 percent (compared to 58 percent favorable in April) and liberal support dropping to 71 percent favorable from 88 percent in April.

“Obama’s efforts to compromise appear to have not helped him in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “Conservatives and Republicans still overwhelmingly dislike him, while moderates have not been impressed, and liberals are getting frustrated. The result is an across-the-board decline. These numbers also certainly reflect the anger and frustration voters have with Washington. It’s worth noting that Congress’s rating is now only 14 percent favorable and 73 percent unfavorable in the Garden State.”

Obama Job Performance Grade Dips

President Obama’s job performance grade has also declined significantly over the summer. Only 8 percent of voters now give him an A (compared to 14 percent in April) and 25 percent assign a B (32 percent in April.) Negative grades have increased, with 19 percent now grading him F, compared to 10 percent in April, and 18 percent giving him a D, up 2 points. Overall, Obama gets positive grades from 33 percent of voters, down 13 points, and negative grades from 37 percent, up 11 points. Another 30 percent assign him a grade of C, compared to 27 percent in April.

Conservative voters mostly give Obama a D or F, which is no surprise. What should worry the President is that liberal voters are much less positive than they were only a few months ago. Among liberals the most popular grade now is a C at 47 percent. In April liberals were more likely to give Obama a B, at 57 percent, but now only one-third still give him a B. Far fewer liberals (12 percent) give him an A than in April, when 20 percent did.

Moderate support for Obama’s job performance has also declined, with only one-third assigning an A or B, compared to 48 percent in April. Moderates are evenly split, with another third giving a grade of C and 32 percent assigning a D or F.

“While not entirely disastrous yet, the big picture for the President does not look good in New Jersey,” said Redlawsk. “He is losing support among his base while failing to make any inroads with more conservative voters. As long as the economy remains weak and voters so unsettled, the re-election campaign may be a challenge, even here.”

Christie Favorability Rating Shows Little Movement

The main story about Gov. Christie’s support in New Jersey is that there has been little change. While the new results show a small increase in unfavorablity, this change maintains the same small range the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has reported throughout 2011. Independents are split, 47 percent favorable to 45 percent unfavorable, while 82 percent of Republicans are positive and 72 percent of Democrats are negative. Independents and Democrats have become more unfavorable toward the governor, while Republicans support has actually increased somewhat.

Union households and Blacks remain negative about Gov. Christie, with only 32 percent of public employee union households expressing a favorable impression, while 66 percent are unfavorable. While whites have a favorable impression, 53 percent to 40 percent, only 12 percent of Blacks are favorable, with 77 percent unfavorable.

For the most part, New Jersey’s feelings about the Governor track with voters’ views of the state as a whole, which have also shown little change. Asked if the state is currently going in the right direction, 43 percent agree, while 51 percent say the state is on the wrong track. This is little changed from April’s 42 percent right direction, 49 percent wrong track numbers.

Christie Job Performance Grade Declines; Remains Highly Polarized

Job performance grades for Gov. Christie remain highly polarized while declining over the past four months. Fewer than 1 in 5 voters gives him a middle grade of C, while 38 percent assign a grade of A (13 percent) or B (25 percent) and 43 percent give a D (24 percent) or F (19 percent). In an April Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Christie received an A or B from 46 percent of voters, while only 35 percent assigned a D or F to his job performance. The new grades represent a movement of 8 points toward the negative for the Governor over the summer.

Moderates grade Gov. Christie much less favorably than they did four months ago. While 46 percent gave Christie an A or B in April, only 26 percent do so now, while 44 percent now give him a D or F, compared to only 31 percent in April. Liberals, never great fans of the governor, are even less positive now, with 11 percent grading him A or B (including only 1 percent A.) This is down by half from April, when 23 percent of liberals gave strong grades to Christie. Conservative voters remain supportive of Christie’s job performance, but most (43 percent) give him a B rather than an A (24 percent).

“The overall story for Gov. Christie is that views of him personally have changed little, with voters remaining split between favorable and unfavorable,” said Redlawsk. “But the last four months have not been as kind to his job performance grade, which has become more polarized and negative as the year has gone on. At least he can take solace in knowing the president has fallen harder. Where he once trailed President Obama’s ratings, both leaders are now suffering equally in terms of how voters view them.”

At the Moment New Jersey Voters Prefer Someone Else in 2013

In a very early read on the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election, voters were asked whether, if the election were today, they would vote for Gov. Christie or someone else. Only 42 percent say they would vote for the Governor today, while 49 percent prefer someone else. As befits Christie’s strong polarizing effect, only 7 percent are unsure.

Among those who voted for Christie in 2009, 78 percent say they would re-elect him, while13 percent prefer someone else. More than 80 percent of 2009’s Corzine voters say they want someone other than Christie in 2013, while 12 percent say they would vote for the governor. Christie’s strongest support comes from voters over 65, who prefer him by 12 points, 50 percent to 38 percent. Only 32 percent of voters under 30 would vote for Christie, and 57 percent want someone else. Men are evenly split, with 46 percent supporting Christie and 45 percent preferring another candidate. Women, however, are strongly opposed to Christie; only 37 percent say they would vote for him. While 77 percent of Democrats want someone else and 79 percent of Republicans would vote for Christie, independents are split, with 45 percent saying they would re-elect him and 46 percent saying they would opt for someone else.

“We should take these results with a grain of salt, of course,” said Redlawsk. “While no incumbent wants voters preferring to throw them out of office, the election is more than 2 years away. It’s one thing for voters to say they want someone else, but entirely another to support a specific alternative. Without a clear Democratic alternative, voters don’t have to make a real choice, so they can express concern now even if, in the end, they might vote for the governor. Still, these numbers give some sense of the uncertainty of the current political environment.”


Filed under 2013 NJ Election, Christie NJ Rating, Obama NJ Rating, Washington

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: Debt Ceiling Agreement Has New Jersey Voters Split; Frustrated at Washington

Well, summer is nearly over, and we’re back with a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. We will have a number of releases on this poll over the next week and a half. Our first release takes a look at the recent debt ceiling crisis/debate/compromise/agreement and what New Jersey voters think about it. For the most part, they are not particularly happy – opinion on the agreement itself is evenly split, and those who paid the most attention are the most negative about how things are going in Washington. In fact, the level of anger and frustration with Washington is extraordinarily high, and it’s likely the debt crisis simply made that worse.

As usual, the text of the release is below. For a PDF of the release with questions and tables related to this topic, click here.

Debt Ceiling Agreement Has New Jersey Voters Split; Frustrated at Washington

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – New Jersey Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing: voters of both parties are evenly split over the debt limit agreement recently reached in Washington, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today. While Democrats narrowly support the agreement, 40 percent to 38 percent, Republicans are also split, with 36 percent supporting and 41 percent opposing the agreement. New Jersey independents are also slightly opposed, with 39 percent in favor and 43 percent against. Overall, 39 percent of New Jersey voters support the agreement and 41 percent oppose it, while 20 percent are not sure. Those who paid the most attention to the debate also reported the most anger with Washington and the strongest belief that Washington “no longer works.”

“The agreement seems to have made few New Jersey voters happy,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Maybe it’s the sign of a good compromise that partisans on both sides are disappointed, or perhaps it simply reflects that the contentious process really didn’t solve anything.”

Results are from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of 615 registered voters conducted among both landline and cell phone households from August 9 – 15, with a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

More NJ Voters Blame Republicans for Crisis

While voters of both parties are less than thrilled about the debt ceiling compromise, they differ completely in where they place the blame for the crisis. More than a third (34 percent) of Republicans says President Barack Obama was most to blame and another19 percent blame Democrats in Congress.

Only a few Republicans place blame on their own party in Congress (8 percent) or on Tea Party Republicans specifically (3 percent). Another 24 percent say “someone else” is to blame, and 13 percent don’t know. Democrats, not surprisingly, have different take, with 39 percent blaming Republicans in Congress and an additional 29 percent blaming Tea Party Republicans specifically. Only about 2 percent places the blame on either Obama or Democrats in Congress, while 19 percent say someone else is to blame, and 11 percent don’t know.

Independents are more likely to blame Republicans, with 20 percent naming Tea Party Republicans and 15 percent Republicans in Congress, while 15 percent blame Obama and 13 percent blame Democrats in Congress. Twenty-three percent of independents blame “someone else” and 14 percent don’t know whom to blame.

“For the most part, Republicans in Washington emerge from the debate in somewhat worse shape than do Democrats, at least among New Jersey voters,” said Redlawsk. “There are, of course, more Democrats in New Jersey, which accounts for part of it, but by a 35 to 28 percent margin, independents lay more blame on Republicans than on Democrats.”

NJ Voters Want Revenues and Spending Cuts

When asked to choose from a set of three options for getting the federal budget “under control,” Garden Staters strongly support increased tax revenues, while opposing across-the-board cuts with no tax increases. Among all voters, 42 percent support a balance of tax increases on higher earners with some cuts in programs like Medicare, while another 19 percent support tax increases that would avoid any cuts. Only 22 percent want cuts and no tax increases, while 12 percent opt for none of these choices.

Democrats and Republicans have different views on how to fix the federal budget, though independents lean toward Democratic preferences. While 42 percent of Republicans call for across-the- board cuts and no tax increases, only 12 percent of Democrats agree. Only about 1 in 5 independents agrees that getting the budget under control should be done this way. Democrats prefer a mix of tax increases on the wealthy and small program cuts, with 53 percent of Democrats choosing this approach, compared to only 29 percent of Republicans. Independents side mostly with Democrats here, with 42 percent preferring a mix of tax increases and budget cuts. Nearly equal percentages of Democrats (24 percent) and independents (20 percent) would like to see tax increases and no budget cuts used to solve the problem, while few Republicans (11 percent) agree with this position.

The 22 percent of New Jerseyans who want across the board cuts are partly a reflection of stronger Tea Party support for this position. About 42 percent of those who have a favorable impression of the Tea Party support only budget cuts, while only 10 percent of those with an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement agree. At the same time, 31 percent of Tea Party supporters in New Jersey support a mix of tax increases and budget cuts, while 53 percent of those unfavorable to the movement take this position. Those unsure of their feelings toward the Tea Party are much more evenly split, with 35 percent favoring across-the-board spending cuts and 29 percent preferring a mix of cuts and tax increases. Another 15 percent of these voters wants taxes raised to avoid spending cuts, compared to only 7 percent with a positive view of the Tea Party and 24 percent viewing the movement negatively.

“These differences reflect the core beliefs of each party,” said Redlawsk,. “But independents lean strongly in the direction of the Democrats on a preferred solution. Yet with the parties so far apart, there may be little hope of meeting in the middle, where most New Jersey voters seem to want them.”

Attention to the Debate May Have Increased Frustration with Washington

Many New Jersey voters paid careful attention to the debt ceiling debate, with 36 percent saying they followed the debate “very closely” and another 41 percent saying they followed it “somewhat closely.” Only 23 percent say they did not follow it closely at all. Members of both parties and independents were about equally likely to say they followed the debate closely.
Men were much more likely to say they followed the debate very closely – 47 percent of men, compared to 25 percent of women, paid very close attention. While only 17 percent of men said they did not follow it at all closely, nearly a third of women – 30 percent – did not pay close attention.

Following the debate very closely seems to have led to greater opposition to the agreement. A majority (57 percent) of those who paid close attention oppose the outcome, while only 39 percent support it. On the other hand, those following “somewhat closely” are in favor of the compromise, 46 percent to 39 percent. Voters not following it at all are also more in favor, 26 percent to 22 percent, but a majority (52 percent) of those not paying attention are not sure what they think.

Those paying the most attention were also more likely than others to place blame for the crisis on Tea Party Republicans, at 26 percent of close followers, while another 20 percent blame Republicans in Congress. Fewer blame Obama (17 percent) or Democrats in Congress (14 percent).

Policy preferences differ depending on how closely voters followed the debate. Among those following it most closely, 48 percent prefer a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, while 27 percent want across the board cuts and 13 percent support tax increases with no cuts. Preferences are similar among those following the debate “somewhat closely” but are very different among those not following the debate closely at all. Among the latter group, 32 percent would prefer only tax increases with no spending cuts, and 28 percent want a balanced approach, while 20 percent support across the board cuts.

Those who followed the debate very closely were much more likely to also say that Washington “no longer works,” with 78 percent of those who paid the most attention agreeing. Far fewer – 56 percent – of those who did not pay close attention to the debate feel the same way. At the same time 76 percent of voters who paid close attention say thinking about the government in Washington makes them angry, compared to 67 percent of those who did not follow the debate closely.

“For the most part, the debate in Washington engaged Garden Staters,” said Redlawsk. “But it may also have increased already high levels of anger and frustration with politics. Voters are split on the outcome, angry with Washington, and probably frustrated that they did not get what they wanted.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Debt Ceiling, Washington