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State’s American Revolution Heritage Worth Preserving

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020

But home state trails MA, PA, VA, in perceived significance

West Long Branch, NJ – The vast majority of New Jerseyans say it is important to preserve and promote the state’s Revolutionary War heritage according to a new Monmouth University Poll. At the same time, many residents place the Garden State a notch below Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania in terms of its American Revolution significance, even though George Washington spent more time in New Jersey during the war than any of the original colonies. Nearly 3-in-10 New Jerseyans have visited one of the state’s Revolutionary War sites in the past five years. One of those sites marks Washington’s famed Delaware River crossing. Just over half of New Jersey residents, with a little prompting, recall that this event led to the tide-turning Battle of Trenton.

More than 8-in-10 New Jersey residents see value in preserving and promoting the state’s Revolutionary War heritage, including about half (49%) who say this is very important to them and 35% who say it is somewhat important. The number who say this is very important has increased by 7 points (from 42%) since 2010 while the somewhat important result has held steady (35%). The number of state residents who say that preserving the state’s American Revolution heritage is not important has gone down from 20% nine years ago to just 13% in the current poll.

 “New Jerseyans see value in promoting the state’s Revolutionary War heritage, but the poll also shows that many do not realize just how much their home state contributed to the struggle for independence,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. In the spirit of full disclosure, Murray is also an advocate for New Jersey’s Revolutionary War heritage and is a former board member of the Crossroads of the American Revolution Association.

When asked to name the first state that comes to mind when thinking about the American Revolution, 16% of New Jerseyans offer their home state, which is about the same number who think of Massachusetts (20%), Virginia (16%), or Pennsylvania (15%) first. However, when asked to rate the relative significance of each state, the other three are seen as more prominent. Specifically, about two-thirds of Garden State residents say that Massachusetts (67%), Virginia (67%), and Pennsylvania (64%) are among the more significant states involved in the Revolutionary War effort. Half say the same about New Jersey (52%) which puts it on par with New York (50%), and ahead of other states like Delaware (41%) and South Carolina (29%) as one of the more significant states.

Comparing these results to a national Monmouth University Poll taken this past summer finds that similar numbers of Americans think of Massachusetts (69%), Virginia (69%), and Pennsylvania (61%) as the most significant states in the American Revolution, but only 32% say the same about New Jersey, placing it on par with South Carolina (33%) but behind New York (52%) and even Delaware (51%). When the poll asked the national sample to name the first state that the Revolutionary War brings to mind, Massachusetts (24%), Virginia (18%), and Pennsylvania (12%) were in the top tier, while only 1% named New Jersey.

“Considering some of the state’s major sites, from the tide-turning Ten Crucial Days campaign to the Morristown encampments to the largest artillery battle of the war at Monmouth, New Jersey has really been keeping its American Revolution light under a bushel,” said Murray.

Six-in-ten (61%) New Jerseyans say they are aware of Revolutionary War sites in the state and about half that number (28%) have actually visited one of these sites in the past five years. These results are unchanged from nine years ago (58% heard of a site in 2010 and 28% reported a visit in the prior five years). Older state residents are more likely to be aware of New Jersey’s Revolutionary War sites, although they aren’t any more likely to have visited them. Awareness of the state’s sites includes 76% of those 55 years old and over, 56% of those 35 to 54 years old, and 49% of those 18 to 34 years old. Reported visits in the past five years include 29% of those 55 years old and over, 29% of those 35 to 54 years old, and 26% of those 18 to 34 years old. 

Thirty percent also report having visited a Revolutionary War site in another state. Taken together with in-state reports, 43% of New Jerseyans have visited a Revolutionary War site anywhere in the past five years. This includes 15% who have visited sites both in-state and out-of-state, 13% who have only visited a site in New Jersey, and 15% who have only visited out-of-state sites.

“There seems to be fairly widespread interest in American Revolution-related tourism. The key is building more of it in New Jersey and that starts with higher in-state visibility,” said Murray.

As a measure of top-of-mind awareness of New Jersey’s American Revolution legacy, the poll asked respondents to name the place where Washington attacked Hessian troops after making his famed Christmas night crossing, which celebrated its 243rd anniversary a few weeks ago. One-in-four (24%) can name Trenton off the top of their heads and another 28% correctly choose it from a list that includes New York, Philadelphia, and Princeton – for a combined awareness of 52%. The poll also found that 24% have heard of the state’s Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area. Ability to identify Trenton as the first crucial battle is down slightly from 58% in 2010 and awareness of Crossroads is also down slightly from 30%.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 12 to 16, 2019 with 713 New Jersey adults.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                                        

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)       

[Q1-33 previously released.]

34. The Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1783.  When you think of the American Revolution, which U.S. state first comes to mind? [LIST WAS NOT READ]

  Sept.
2019
April
2010
National
comparison
June
2019
Connecticut 1% 0% 0%
Delaware 4% 6% 3%
Georgia 1% 2% 1%
Maryland 1% 1% 1%
Massachusetts 20% 14% 24%
New Hampshire 0% 0% 1%
New Jersey 16% 17% 1%
New York 4% 4% 6%
North Carolina 1% 1% 1%
Pennsylvania 15% 15% 12%
Rhode Island 0% 0% 0%
South Carolina 2% 1% 2%
Virginia 16% 18% 18%
Other 4% 3% 11%
None 5% 4% 6%
(VOL) Don’t know 12% 13% 12%
(n) (713) (804) (751)

35. I am going to read you a number of states.  For each one, please tell me whether it was one of the more significant states involved in the Revolutionary War effort, about average in significance, or if it was less significant than most other states? [STATES WERE ROTATED]

  One of
the more
significant
states
About
average in
significance
Less
significant
than most
other states
(VOL)
Don’t
now
(n)
 Delaware 41% 30% 18% 11% (713)
National comparison June 2019 51% 23% 15% 11% (751)
           
 Massachusetts 67% 13% 11% 9% (713)
National comparison June 2019 69% 14% 8% 8% (751)
           
 New Jersey 52% 23% 16% 9% (713)
National comparison June 2019 32% 29% 27% 12% (751)
           
 New York 50% 23% 18% 9% (731)
National comparison June 2019 52% 20% 17% 11% (751)
           
 Pennsylvania 64% 19% 7% 10% (713)
National comparison June 2019 61% 21% 8% 10% (751)
           
 South Carolina 29% 25% 34% 12% (713)
National comparison June 2019 33% 26% 31% 11% (751)
           
 Virginia 67% 16% 8% 9% (713)
National comparison June 2019 69% 18% 5% 8% (751)

36. Do you happen to know of any Revolutionary War sites in New Jersey, or not?

  Sept.
2019
April
2010
Yes  61% 58%
No  39% 41%
(n) (713) (804)

37. Have you personally visited any Revolutionary War sites in New Jersey in the past five years, or have you not done that?

  Sept.
2019
April
2010
Yes, have visited 28% 28%
No, have not visited 71% 70%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1%
(n) (713) (804)

38. Have you personally visited any Revolutionary War sites outside of New Jersey in the past five years, or have you not done that?

  Sept.
2019
Yes, have visited 30%
No, have not visited 70%
(n) (713)

39. Have you heard of New Jersey’s Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area, or haven’t you heard of this before?

  Sept.
2019
April
2010
Yes, have heard 24% 30%
No, have not heard 76% 70%
(n) (713) (804)

40. How important is it to you personally that New Jersey preserves and promotes its Revolutionary War heritage – very, somewhat, not very, or not at all important?

  Sept.
2019
April
2010
Very 49% 42%
Somewhat 35% 35%
Not very 7% 10%
Not at all 6% 10%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 2%
(n) (713) (804)

41. George Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 to make a surprise attack on Hessian troops. Do you happen to know where he made this attack? [ANSWER WAS NOT READ]

  Sept.
2019
April
2010
Trenton 24% 24%
Other place named 14% 14%
No answer, don’t know  63% 64%
(n) (713) (804)

41A. And if the choices were Trenton, New York, Philadelphia, or Princeton – what would you say? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]

  Sept.
2019
April
2010
Named “Trenton” in Q41 24% 24%
Trenton 28% 34%
New York 6% 4%
Philadelphia   20% 18%
Princeton 15% 14%
(VOL) Don’t know 7% 6%
(n) (713) (804)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 12 to 16, 2019 with a random sample of 713 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 359 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 354 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Region in this report is defined by county boundaries:  Northeast (Bergen, Passaic), Urban Core (Essex, Hudson), Route 1 Corridor (Mercer, Middlesex, Union), Central Hills (Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset), Northern Shore (Monmouth, Ocean), Delaware Valley (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester), and Garden Core (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Sussex, Warren).

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
20% Republican
45% Independent
35% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
29% 18-34
36% 35-54
35% 55+
 
59% White
13% Black
17% Hispanic
11% Asian/Other
 
64% No degree
36% 4 year degree
 
 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs