By a margin 55%-30% New Jersey voters say the state in on the wrong track, similar to November measures taken just before the state’s legislative election. According to the most recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, Republicans by a three to one margin say the state is on the wrong track (67-21), independent voters by more than a two to one margin say the state is on the wrong track (57-24), and even Democrats agree by a five to four margin (47-38).
On the eve of his third State of the State address, the governor’s approval ratings, like voters’ pessimistic appraisal of the state, are little changed. He maintains 48% approval against 32% disapproval, with 20% mixed or undecided. That is about a five-to-three ratio only slightly changed from late October (51-29%) and from January a year ago (also 51%-29%), though softer than many other months when his approval was a solid two-to-one ratio in his favor.
Likewise his favorable opinion is essentially unchanged from November with 47% of voters saying they have a favorable opinion of the governor and 36% saying their impression is unfavorable. In November the margin was 48% favorable and 34% unfavorable. However, the more sensitive job performance rating registers a little change as 31% of voters rate his performance as “good,” down from 37% in late October, and 42% now rate his performance as “only fair,” up from 38% in late October, and 6% say they’re not sure, up from 3% in October. Still, even Republican voters are more likely to rate the governor as “only fair” (43%) than as “poor” (28%).
“The bottom line is that the governor’s public standing has held up well so far,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “Even if voters are pessimistic about the direction of the state, they retain some optimism about the governor. But this is his third and most important year. In the eyes of the public, he will either get it done or he will be just another governor who muddled through,” added Woolley.
As for the governor’s ambitions to restructure the state’s finances, 63% of voters say they’ve heard some or a lot about proposals to increase tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway to provide a new infusion of funds. While the public has still not had the opportunity to learn the details of the governor’s plan, half of voters (50%) say they oppose toll hikes to raise new monies, while 39% say they support it. And Democratic voters oppose it by a five-to-four margin (50-40), little different from Republican voters who oppose it by five-to-four, or 52-39. “The governor knows he has a sales job ahead of him,” said Woolley. “And that sales job is as much to Democrats as to anyone else.”
A large majority of voters (72%) have also heard some or a lot about the recent repeal of the death penalty. Voters split in their opinion of the repeal with 41% approving but 46% disapproving. Democratic voters support the repeal by a margin of 46-39, independents disapprove by 47-41, and Republicans disapprove by 58-34. Similarly, liberals approve of the repeal by 51-37 but conservatives disapprove by essentially the same margin, 54-36. “How this helps or hurts the governor and the other elected officials who supported it will be watched carefully in other states where similar measures are being considered,” added Woolley.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 701 registered voters statewide was conducted from January 2 through January 6 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
Contact: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239
For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.