Rational Voters

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Tabular Results
Survey Details
Republican Response
Democratic Response

Three-quarters of New Jersey voters agree with the Acting Governor’s proposal to hold the line on state spending.  According to the most recent survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, 76% of voters say that not increasing overall spending is a good idea while only 12% say it’s a bad idea. At the same time they think many of the specific budget proposals for raising taxes and cutting spending are a bad idea.

A majority (52%) think that a new tax on cable companies is a bad idea while a majority (69%) also think increasing the transfer tax on house sales is a bad idea. Voters of both parties also think holding the line on state aid to public education is a bad idea as well as not increasing aid to colleges and universities. A majority (54%) also say it’s a bad idea not to increase aid to cities and municipalities.

“Not surprisingly, people want more government spending on most things and lower taxes,” said Bruce Larson, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and survey analyst for the PublicMind. “While this may seem somewhat irrational on the part of voters, it is actually quite rational. After all, who doesn’t want a free lunch when it’s offered? And elected officials could do a much better job of explaining to voters that budgets require difficult choices.”

But partisan differences emerge on a variety of other proposals. A majority (56%) of Democrats say ending the property tax deduction for people with incomes over $200,000 is a good idea while a majority of Republicans (59%) say it’s a bad idea. A large majority of Democrats (76%) say it’s a good idea to increase the inheritance tax on the wealthy but half of Republicans (50%) say it’s a bad idea. On the other hand, a majority of Democrats (54%) say it’s a bad idea to eliminate 500 state jobs while a majority of Republicans (56%) say it’s a good idea. “All this suggests that Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and the General Assembly have the opportunity to have a spirited debate this year,” added Peter Woolley, director of the poll.

More than three quarters (78%) of voters expect their property taxes to increase this year. Republicans and Independents are more likely than Democrats to expect that their property taxes will “increase a lot.”

Two-thirds of voters in both parties agree that reducing property tax rebates for senior citizens and suspending rebates for other homeowners is a bad idea. But a majority of (self-identified) conservatives conclude “that’s the same as raising taxes” while liberals split 44%-45% over whether it’s the same as raising taxes or “the state is cutting its spending.”

Democrats and Republicans do agree on the causes of higher spending and higher taxes. Up to two-thirds think “fraud, waste, and abuse” and “politicians who just want to spend” are most responsible for driving up state spending and taxes.

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll of 800 registered voters was conducted from April 4 through April 10 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Poll Analysis


Bruce Larson 973.769.1401

Peter Woolley 973.670.3239

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Copyright © 2005, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 050415]