How bad can things really be in New Jersey? According to the most recent PublicMind survey, a majority of New Jersey voters (54%) think New Jersey is a better place to live than other states. Only 20% say it's worse, and 17% say it's just the same. Liberals are more likely than conservatives to think New Jersey is a better place to live than other states (63-52), as are those have watched the infamous Sopranos compared to those who have not (57-48).
But Jersey voters agree on something else: pollution. A sizable majority--62%--say their state is more polluted than others. Worse, 42% of people around the country agree, and just 17% around the country say New Jersey has the same amount of pollution or less than other states.
Still, New Jerseyans are unconcerned with their image. A majority (57%) say they are “not concerned at all” with what people in other states think about New Jersey, while another 15% say they just are “a little concerned.” Just 28% say they're somewhat or very concerned. Moreover, those who have watched The Sopranos are much more likely than those who have not to say they're not concerned at all with what people in other states think about New Jersey (62-48).
And what do they think? When asked “what comes to mind when you think of New Jersey?” voters across the country mention “next to New York” and “the shore” as well as casinos and even farming, vegetables and cows far more often than pollution.
So what else is good about New Jersey? A majority of New Jersey voters (57%) say New Jersey has better public schools than other states. However, whites are more likely to conclude the state has better schools than are non-whites (61-46), and liberals are more likely to think so than conservatives (64-50).
As for whether the state has more or fewer dishonest politicians, Jersey voters split: 42% say the state has more than its fair share but 41% think the state has the same as, or fewer than other states. Conservatives are more likely than liberals to think the state has more dishonest politicians (50-36). Men are more likely than women to think so (52-32). And those who have watched The Sopranos are more likely to think so than those who have not (46-36). But Jersey cynicism--or inside knowledge--is not widely shared: outside the state just 16% say New Jersey has more dishonest politicians than other states.
Asked about street crime, 36% of Jersey voters say there's more of it in their state, but 49% say the state has the same or less than other states. And those who have watched The Sopranos are no more likely than those who have not to say there is more street crime in New Jersey.
New Jerseyans also split on whether there is more organized crime in their state: 40% of New Jerseyans say there is, and 30% nationally agree. But 48% nationally say they don't know, and 38% in New Jersey say there's the same or less of it in their state. Folks in northern New Jersey are more likely to conclude there is more organized crime in the state than folks in south Jersey (44-32), but Sopranos-watchers are not statistically more likely than non-Sopranos-watchers to agree.
One other thing Jersey voters agree on is taxes: 85% conclude they pay more in state and local taxes than most other states and, on this point too, liberals and conservatives agree (86-86). The rest of the nation doesn't agree however: just 27% nationally say New Jersey pays more in taxes.
Two PublicMind polls of 776 registered voters nationwide and 602 registered voters in New Jersey were conducted from May 29 through June 3 and have a margins of error of +/- 3.5 and +/-4 percentage points respectively.
Contact: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239 or Dan Cassino 973.896.7072
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