Republicans, Independents… yes
The percentage of voters reporting the state is headed in the “right direction” has hit a low mark in Governor McGreevey’s term. According to the most recent survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, a majority of voters say the state is on the wrong track and only 31% say it’s headed in the right direction. “The political crisis in Trenton has clearly left many New Jerseyans worried about the state’s well being,” said Bruce Larson, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and survey analyst for the PublicMind.
Ninety percent of the public say they have heard “some” or “a great deal” about the reasons for the governor’s resignation. Two-thirds say they’ve heard or read a great deal about the resignation, the governor’s announcement that he is gay, and his admission of having an extramarital affair.
Only 8% of New Jersey voters say the main reason the governor resigned is because he is gay. Another 11% cite an extramarital affair. Nearly half (46%) cite issues related to scandal or corruption. “With reports of political patronage and sexual harassment driving the emerging story—and with the Governor and his associates surrounded by controversy from the start—it’s not surprising that many voters believe corruption is at the heart of this episode,” said Larson.
Nearly half of voters (48%) think the governor should have resigned “under the circumstances,” and 42% say his resignation wasn’t necessary. But partisan lenses make a difference. A majority of Democrats (54%) say that McGreevey didn’t need to resign. A majority of Republicans (65%) say he should have.
The Governor’s ratings have declined from PublicMind’s July poll, though he retains a base of support among Democrats, the urban core, and younger voters. Thirty-two percent maintain a favorable impression of him, down from 41% in July. Fifty-three percent have an unfavorable impression, up from 47% last month. But a majority of Democrats (53%) say he deserves re-election as against only 36% of all voters.
Voters are divided on the question of when Governor McGreevey’s resignation should become effective—and they are divided along party lines: 48% of all voters say “he should have resigned immediately” rather than wait until after the November election. But 74% of Republicans say McGreevey should have quit right away, whereas only 26% of Democrats believe that he should have resigned immediately. A majority of independents (58%) agree that an immediate resignation is preferable.
Voters are also divided over the question of a special election—and once again divided along party lines: 46% prefer a special election for governor this November while 44% prefer that an acting governor take office for a year. But 60% of Democrats say they prefer to have an acting governor until an election a year from now while 62% of Republicans prefer to have a special election this November. Independents again side with the Republicans, with 51% preferring a special election. “The Republican Party may have found an issue to attract New Jersey’s substantial number of independent voters,” added Larson.
Meanwhile, the presumptive acting governor, Richard Codey, is virtually unknown. More than two-thirds (68%) report they have never heard of him. The good news for the Senate president, however, is that among the 32% who say they have heard of him, his favorable ratings outpace his unfavorable ratings by 3 to 1. “Should Codey inherit the governorship, he would need to quickly build his standing with voters,” said Larson, “because it surely won’t be easy to govern under the conditions McGreevey is leaving for him.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll of 500 registered voters statewide was conducted from August 13 through August 15 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
Bruce Larson 973.769.1401
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