Governor maintains ratings, while state is still on the wrong track
Half of New Jersey voters (51%) continue to say, as they did during the fall campaign, that the state is “on the wrong track” while just 37% say the state is “moving in the right direction.” According to the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll, Democrats are far more optimistic than Republicans about the state: half of Democrats say the state is headed in the right direction while 70% of Republicans say the state is on the wrong track.
Meanwhile, Governor Jon Corzine maintains a 5:3 ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion, little changed from the fall campaign season. By comparison, newly elected U.S. Senator Bob Menendez has just a 1:1 ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion, essentially unchanged from PublicMind measurements at the end of the campaign.
Still, the governor's job rating has slipped somewhat since November: now 38% rate his performance as “good” or “excellent” compared to 50% just before the election. Those who rate his performance as “poor” is unchanged at 17%. At the same time, 51% approve of the job he is doing as governor, down slightly from 58% before the election, while 29% disapprove, essentially unchanged from 27% marked before the November election. His 5:3 job approval is better than in April of 2006 after he presented his first budget and better than July 2006 after his confrontation with the legislature over the sales tax hike.
The sales tax hike has not boomeranged and a majority of voters (58%) continue to say the increase last summer has affected them “just a little” or “not at all.” However, party identification colors voters' assessment of the increase: while just 31% of Democrats say the sales tax hike has made “some” or “a great deal” of difference to them personally, nearly half of Republicans (47%) say the increase has made “some” or “a great deal” of difference. Responses do not vary by income level despite that the sales tax is considered a regressive tax, taking a bigger bite from low income households than from high income earners.
“The governor has set the bar of expectations very high,” said Peter J. Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll, “and the public is giving him the benefit of the doubt. I think people are eager for him to succeed.”
A majority of voters (54%) say leasing the N.J. Turnpike is a “bad idea” compared to just 17% who say it's a good idea. But 29% are not sure. Asked how much they've heard about this idea, 44% say they've heard “some” or “a great deal,” but 56% say they've heard “just a little” or “nothing at all.” Party makes little difference in voters' views: 53% of Democrats say leasing is a bad idea and 53% of Republicans agree. “Clearly there is room for change in the public's opinion of this idea since nearly a third haven't drawn a conclusion,” said Woolley. “But the early returns show the public is skeptical.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll of 611 randomly selected voters statewide was conducted from January 2 through January 7 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
Peter Woolley 973.670.3239
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