Heroes and Villains: sharp differences of opinion

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Tabular Results
Survey Details
Republican Response
Democratic Response

Respondents reporting they are part of the public pension system at the state, county or local level are twice as likely as the rest of New Jersey voters to give the governor a rating of “excellent” and they are only half as likely as the rest of the population to give the governor a job rating of “poor.”  According to the most recent survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind, those in the public pension system also approve of the job the governor is doing by a 2-to-1 margin (58%-27%) while other voters split 5-to-4 (48%-39%).

On the more specific question of the governor's handling the budget, voters not linked to the public pension system disapprove of the governor's handling of the budget by a margin of 44%-49%. But respondents in the public pension system approve of the governor's handling of the budget by a decisive margin of 55%-29%.

And in a dramatic turnaround, 57% of Garden State voters say raising the sales tax is a good idea “given the state's budget problems,” including 7 of 10 Democrats (71%) and a majority (53%) of independents. This compares to 61% of Garden State voters who in PublicMind's April budget survey said raising the sales tax was a bad idea, including 7 of 10 Republicans, 6 of 10 independents and half of Democrats.  Those in the state pension system support the sales tax increase by a margin of 70%-22% while others support it by 55%-37%.

“Residents who contribute to or withdraw from the public pension system are an important constituency,” said Peter J. Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “Our April survey on budget proposals showed no significant differences between this group and others. But this group drew different conclusions about the budget confrontation in July than did other voters.” Those in the state pension system constitute about one in ten adults, about one in seven registered voters, and about one in four households.

Who is the hero and who is the villain is also a function of party affiliation. A majority of Democrats (52%) blame the legislature for the brief government shutdown in early July, while a plurality of Republicans (44%) blame the shutdown on the governor.

And when asked who is responsible for the state's recurring budget problems, a plurality of all voters and more than a third of Democrats and independents say it is “previous governors.” Further, of all those who blame previous governors, nearly half (48%) blame Republican Christie Todd Whitman in particular. By contrast, just 20% blame Democrat James McGreevey, and just 2% blame the former governor Codey.

Only 35% of voters have heard of Joe Roberts, but among those who know him the New Jersey Assembly Speaker fares badly: Twice as many say they have an unfavorable opinion as have a favorable opinion (19%-38%). By contrast, the assembly speaker's counterpart in the state senate, Dick Codey, continues to be the most popular office holder in the state with a favorable to unfavorable ratio better than 4-to-1 (64%-15%).

Even if public support for an increased sales tax changed since April, the public assessment of the state of the state did not. A majority (57%) say the state is on the wrong track--the same as PublicMind's April budget survey, which was up sharply from 47% in March before the governor made his first budget address.  Only a third of voters (32%) say New Jersey is headed in the right direction.

Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll of 675 registered voters was conducted from Monday, July 10 through Sunday night, July 16, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.



Contacts: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239; Dan Cassino 973.896.7072

Radio actuality line: (201) 692-2846.

For more information, please call (201) 692-7032.

Copyright © 2006, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 060719]