Backlash Issues Don't Sting Menendez
The percentage of pessimists hasn't changed in New Jersey. Just 35% think the state is headed in the right direction, while half (49%) say the state is on the wrong track. But that doesn't mean they'll take it out on the governor, or on Bob Menendez whom the governor appointed to the United States Senate. According to the most recent survey results from Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind, two-thirds of those voting for Republican Tom Kean, Jr. say the state is on the wrong track, but so do half (50%) of those voting for Bob Menendez.
New Jersey Court on Civil Unions:
Civil unions between same-sex couples are a polarizing issue: 53% agree with the New Jersey Supreme Court's recent decision on same-sex unions, while 40% disagree. Most voters have an opinion on the topic, and most agree or disagree strongly with the court: 36% agree strongly and 31% disagree strongly. Only 6% are not sure whether they agree or not. A third (35%) of Kean voters agree with the decision, while more than half (58%) disagree. And while a majority of Menendez voters (56%) agree with the decision, 41% disagree.
“This is an issue which neither candidate wants to put front and center because any stance is bound to alienate some voters with strong feelings,” said Peter J. Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll.
Polarization on this issue does not work against the governor either. Among those who disagree with the court's decision, 47% approve of the governor's handling of his job, while 38% disapprove. Overall, the governor continues to enjoy a 2:1 ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion (55%-27%), and half of likely voters give the governor a rating of “excellent” or “good,” while just 17% rate his performance as “poor.” Half of Menendez voters (51%) give the governor a rating of “good” or “excellent,” but so do nearly a third of Kean voters (30%).
Likely voters approve of the job Jon Corzine is doing as governor by 2 to 1 (58% to 27%). Even 40% of Republicans say they approve the governor's handling of his job, as do 47% of those who disagree with the state court's decision.
“Tom Kean, Jr. attacked by pointing to problems in the state, but did not attack Jon Corzine,” added Woolley. “It is not coincidence that his campaign chose not to attack a governor who is popular. At the same time, Jon Corzine did not have a high profile in the Menendez campaign because the strategy was to keep voters focused on national, rather than state issues.”
A majority (56%) say the increase in sales tax has made “just a little” difference or “none at all” to them personally, a number essentially unchanged from before Labor Day. One in four (26%) say the increase has made “some” difference and 17% say it has made “a great deal” of difference. However, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to report it has made little or no difference to them personally (64%), while it is Republicans who are more likely to say it has made a difference (53%). Independents split 57-42 in favor of little or no difference.
A majority of those voting for Menendez (58%) say it has made little or no difference, while those voting for Kean split evenly with half (50%) saying it had made a difference and half (49%) saying it has not. Undecided voters also split about half and half.
“The Republican campaign strategy has been to emphasize state and local issues,” said Woolley. “But the tax issue which plagued Democrat Bill Bradley does not have the same traction this time around.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll of 577 randomly selected likely voters statewide was conducted from October 25 through October 31 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
Peter Woolley 973.670.3239; Dan Cassino 973.896.7072
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