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Broad Support for Social Distancing

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Murphy rating surges; Trump remains negative

West Long Branch, NJ – Public officeholder ratings have gone up across the board in the Garden State, but none more so than for the governor, Phil Murphy, who earns widespread praise for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll finds that New Jersey residents have a higher opinion of the state response than they do for the actions of the federal government in general and the president specifically. The vast majority of New Jerseyans approve of the state’s social distancing regulations, including large numbers who support controversial measures such as the closure of state parks. Among more than a dozen different actions and issues covered by the poll, the only area where New Jersey falls short is the rate of COVID-19 testing. However, only 3 in 10 say this gap is due to the state government not doing enough to make more tests available.

Murphy earns a 71% approve and 21% disapprove rating for the overall job he is doing as governor, with 8% having no opinion. Public approval has jumped since September when he earned a split decision from his constituents – 41% approved and 38% disapproved, while 21% had no opinion of their governor. The governor’s job approval number has increased by 21 points among Democrats (from 71% in September to 92% now), by 41 points among independents (from 28% to 69%), and by 29 points among Republicans (from 16% to 45%).

“Not only are Murphy’s approval numbers up, but more New Jerseyans are taking notice than during the first two years of his term. Leadership becomes much more relevant in a crisis and Murphy is getting solid reviews for his response,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Murphy is not alone in garnering positive reviews from New Jersey residents. The state legislature gets a solid 54% approve and 27% disapprove rating – up from a negative 33% approve and 42% disapprove rating in September. This marks the first time in six years that the legislature has earned a net positive rating. Sen. Cory Booker gets a 51% approve and 33% disapprove rating among all adult residents (up from 45% to 37%) while Sen. Bob Menendez gets a 45% approve and 36% disapprove rating (up from 36% to 43%).

Even President Donald Trump’s job rating has ticked up a bit in New Jersey, although, in contrast to public opinion of state officials, it remains underwater. The president currently earns a 41% approve and 56% disapprove rating from Garden State residents. This is only slightly different from the 37% approve and 55% disapprove rating he got in September.

There is a large gap in how New Jerseyans view the responses of their governor and president to the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) say Murphy has done a good job dealing with COVID-19 while just 10% say he’s done a bad job. Positive reviews of Murphy’s COVID-19 response are a little higher than the average for all 50 U.S. governors (72%), according to a national Monmouth University Poll conducted earlier this month. Only 4 in 10 (41%) New Jerseyans say Trump has done a good job dealing with the outbreak while 52% say he has done a bad job. This state rating is somewhat more negative than national opinion of Trump’s coronavirus response (46% good job and 49% bad job).

More than 6 in 10 (64%) say that measures taken by New Jersey’s state government to slow the spread of the virus have been appropriate. Just 11% say they have gone too far while 23% say they have not gone far enough. In contrast, just 42% of state residents say measures taken by the federal government have been appropriate while more (51%) say they have not gone far enough. Another 5% say the federal measures have gone too far.

“The nation has seen sporadic protests against these restrictions, including one in Trenton on Friday. The poll shows, though, that these protestors represent an incredibly small sliver of all state residents. The vast majority are united in their support for social distancing measures to protect the health of their fellow New Jerseyans,” said Murray.

Murphy has issued a number of executive orders since early March restricting certain activities in the state. The vast majority of the public is aware of these actions and approves of them. Specifically, from just under 9 in 10 to nearly all state residents approve of the following restrictions:

  • Requiring people to maintain six feet of distance (97% approve / 95% aware) and to wear a face covering in public (95% approve / 95% aware), as well as banning all gatherings and parties (88% approve / 85% aware);
  • Limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery only (94% approve / 96% aware);
  • Closure of gyms (94% approve / 94% aware), libraries (89% approve / 84% aware), child care centers (88% approve / 74% aware), and nonessential retail stores (86% approve / 92% aware); and
  • Moving the state primary date back a month (89% approve / 52% aware).

Restrictions that receive somewhat lower, albeit still widespread, approval include:

  • Limiting supermarket hours (80% approve / 77% aware);
  • Stopping nonessential construction projects (74% approve / 66% aware);
  • Closure of state and county parks (70% approve / 90% aware); and
  • Publicly naming people cited for outbreak violations (64% approve / 35% aware).

Closure of state parks and opposition to publicly naming violators are the only two measures among 13 tested in the poll where Murphy’s fellow Democrats register double-digit opposition, but there are wide partisan differences. Regarding the park closures, 84% of Democrats approve and 15% disapprove, 67% of independents approve and 32% disapprove, and 55% of Republicans approve and 43% disapprove.

“Shutting down state and county parks has probably sparked the biggest public pushback against the governor. The outcry is largely partisan, perhaps because it is the one area where GOP politicians feel they can criticize the governor without looking uncooperative,” said Murray.

When it comes to publicly naming those cited by police for violating the outbreak restrictions, 75% of Democrats approve and 22% disapprove, 59% of independents approve and 38% disapprove, and 60% of Republicans approve and 38% disapprove. However, this is the one action tested in the poll that most New Jerseyans have not heard about. Just 35% are aware that the state is doing this, 30% say it is not, and 35% say they do not know whether it is. Among those who are actually aware of the public outing of violators, 76% approve of it and 22% disapprove.

“This is one measure that has escaped the public’s attention. If the question we asked had mentioned the fact that many of those cited also coughed or spat on police officers and grocery store workers, approval of this action would probably be even higher in the poll,” said Murray.

Another sensitive issue is when the state’s schools will reopen. The poll finds that 87% agree with Murphy’s recent announcement that New Jersey schools will remain closed until at least May 15th, but they are divided on whether he should have gone further. About half (51%) feel it is better to just announce now that the schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year while 46% say it is better to make the decision on school closures every four weeks or so. Among state residents who have children under 18 years old, 84% approve of keeping the schools closed into next month, with 55% saying that the state should just announce now that schools are closed for the year and 42% who say it is better to make closure decisions every few weeks.

The only area in the poll where the state does not receive glowing reviews is for the amount of available COVID-19 testing. Just 27% say New Jersey has been offering enough testing for the coronavirus while 67% say it is not enough. However, those who feel there is not enough testing are divided on whether this is the state’s fault – 29% say the state government could be doing more to make tests available while 31% say the lack of tests is largely out of the state government’s control. Another 7% say the state does not have enough testing but are unsure of how much Trenton is responsible for it.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 16 to 19, 2020 with 704 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 held for future release.]

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Phil Murphy is doing as governor?



TREND: Registered voters
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve72%40%42%43%
Disapprove21%41%43%30%
(VOL) No opinion7%19%16%27%
   (n)(635)(651)(549)(632)


TREND: All adults
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve71%41%43%44%
Disapprove21%38%40%28%
(VOL) No opinion8%21%17%28%
   (n)(704)(713)(604)(703)

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the state legislature is doing?



TREND: All adults
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve54%33%37%36%
Disapprove27%42%42%39%
(VOL) No opinion19%25%21%24%
   (n)(704)(713)(604)(703)
TREND: Registered votersApril
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
July 2017May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Jan.
2014
Approve56%32%35%34%23%29%32%33%37%35%36%38%38%47%
Disapprove28%45%45%42%62%53%51%48%46%46%48%46%47%35%
(VOL) No opinion16%22%20%24%15%19%17%19%17%19%17%15%14%18%
   (n)(635)(651)(549)(632)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(470)
TREND: Registered voters
continued
Dec.
2013
Sept.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
Dec.
2012
Sept.
2012
July
2012
April
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
May
2011
Feb.
2011
Sept.
2010
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve44%38%41%40%69%55%53%50%55%55%50%46%49%44%45%42%31%
Disapprove38%36%42%35%22%36%35%38%37%37%41%49%41%40%43%44%15%
(VOL) No opinion19%27%17%25%9%10%12%12%9%8%8%5%9%16%12%13%53%
   (n)(698)(674)(694)(697)(726)(715)(678)(692)(709)(693)(730)(725)(718)(726)(747)(719)(716)
TREND: Registered voters
continued
July
2009
Feb.
2009
Sept.
2008
July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Oct.
2007
Feb.
2007
Approve31%23%29%27%28%25%32%34%
Disapprove48%55%50%47%55%53%43%42%
(VOL) No opinion22%22%21%26%17%22%25%23%
   (n)(792)(721)(709)(889)(720)(719)(688)(681)

4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?

TREND: All adultsApril
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
July
2017
Approve41%37%37%34%35%
Disapprove56%55%58%61%58%
(VOL) Don’t know3%9%5%4%6%
   (n)(704)(713)(604)(703)(800)
TREND: Registered votersApril
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
July
2017
Approve42%37%38%35%37%
Disapprove56%56%57%61%57%
(VOL) Don’t know2%7%5%3%6%
   (n)(635)(651)(549)(632)(758)

[QUESTIONS 5 & 6 WERE ROTATED]

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bob Menendez is doing as United States Senator?

 All adultsApril
2020
Approve45%
Disapprove36%
(VOL) Don’t know19%
   (n)(704)
TREND:
Registered voters
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
 Approve44%37%40%37%41%41%38%42%49%45%47%51%49%47%44%41%
Disapprove38%45%45%38%35%31%38%38%27%30%34%31%30%27%38%31%
(VOL) Don’t know18%18%15%25%23%28%23%20%24%26%19%18%21%26%18%28%
   (n)(635)(651)(549)(632)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(698)(694)(697)
TREND: Registered voters continuedApril
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
May
2011
July
2010
Oct.
2008
April
2008
Jan.
2008
Approve40%41%43%38%46%38%34%41%37%
Disapprove25%26%29%33%28%33%25%31%25%
(VOL) Don’t know35%33%28%29%26%29%41%28%37%
   (n)(692)(709)(693)(730)(725)(747)(900)(720)(698)

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Cory Booker is doing as United States Senator?

All adultsApril
2020
Approve51%
Disapprove33%
(VOL) Don’t know16%
   (n)(704)
TREND: Registered votersApril 2020Sept. 2019Feb. 2019April
2018
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
Approve51%45%48%54%50%53%45%51%51%42%48%47%47%37%
Disapprove34%40%38%31%31%21%24%21%21%23%25%23%20%21%
(VOL) Don’t know14%16%14%15%20%27%31%27%27%35%27%30%32%43%
   (n)(635)(651)(549)(632)(758)(703)(453)(441)(712)(680)(717)(690)(690)(698)

[Q7-10 held for future release.]

[QUESTIONS 11 & 12 WERE ROTATED]

11. Has Governor Murphy done a good job or bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?

April
2020
Good job79%
Bad job10%
(VOL) Mixed, depends7%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
   (n)(704)

12. Has President Trump done a good job or bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?

April
2020
Good job41%
Bad job52%
(VOL) Mixed, depends6%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
   (n)(704)

[QUESTIONS 13 & 14 WERE ROTATED]

13. Have the measures taken by the New Jersey state government to slow the spread of the virus been appropriate, have they gone too far, or have they not gone far enough?

April
2020
Appropriate64%
Gone too far11%
Not gone far enough23%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
   (n)(704)

14. Have the measures taken by the federal government to slow the spread of the virus been appropriate, have they gone too far, or have they not gone far enough?

April
2020
Appropriate42%
Gone too far5%
Not gone far enough51%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
   (n)(704)

15. Do you think New Jersey has been offering enough testing for the coronavirus, or not enough? [If NOT ENOUGH: Do you think the state government could be doing more to make tests available or is it largely out of the state government’s control?]

 April
2020
 Enough27%
 Not enough…Could be doing more29%
Out of the state government’s control31%
(VOL) Both, not sure7%
 (VOL) Don’t know6%
(n)(704)

16. Individual states have different rules regarding the outbreak and it can be hard to keep track. As far as you have heard, has New Jersey done or not done each of the following?  Let me know if you are not sure.  [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

  

Yes, has done
No, has
not done


Not sure



(n)
Limit restaurants to takeout or delivery only96%1%3%(704)
Banned gatherings and parties, even in private  homes85%6%9%(704)
Closed libraries84%3%13%(704)
Closed gyms94%1%5%(704)
Closed state and county parks90%2%9%(704)
Closed child care centers74%7%19%(704)
Closed nonessential retail stores92%5%3%(704)
Limit supermarket hours77%10%13%(704)
Stopped nonessential construction projects66%14%20%(704)
Moved the date of the state’s primary election to a month later52%7%41%(704)
Require people to maintain six feet social distancing when in public95%4%2%(704)
Require people to wear a face covering in stores and public places95%4%2%(704)
Publicly name people who have been cited by police for violating outbreak restrictions35%30%35%(704)

17. New Jersey has actually implemented all of these measures. For each, I’d like to know if you approve or disapprove of the state doing it?  [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

  

Approve


Disapprove

(VOL)
Don’t know


(n)
Limit restaurants to takeout or delivery only94%5%0%(704)
Banned gatherings and parties, even in private homes88%12%1%(704)
Closed libraries89%9%1%(704)
Closed gyms94%6%0%(704)
Closed state and county parks70%29%1%(704)
Closed child care centers88%10%2%(704)
Closed nonessential retail stores86%12%1%(704)
Limit supermarket hours80%18%2%(704)
Stopped nonessential construction projects74%23%3%(704)
Moved the date of the state’s primary election
to a month later
89%7%4%(704)
Require people to maintain six feet social
distancing when in public
97%3%0%(704)
Require people to wear a face covering in
stores and public places
95%4%0%(704)
Publicly name people who have been cited by
police for violating outbreak restrictions
64%32%4%(704)

17X. It was recently announced that New Jersey schools will remain closed until at least May 15th.  Do you approve or disapprove of this?

April
2020
Approve87%
Disapprove11%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
   (n)(704)

17Y. Do you think it is better to make the decision on school closures every four weeks or so as the situation develops, OR do you think it would be better to say now that the schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year?

April
2020
Better to make the decision on school closures every four weeks or so46%
Better to say now that the schools will be closed for the remainder51%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
   (n)(704)

[Q18-35 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from April 16 to 19, 2020 with a random sample of 704 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 316 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 388 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 (ACS 2018 one-year survey). 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.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
25% Republican
39% Independent
36% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
28% 18-34
34% 35-54
37% 55+
 
58% White
13% Black
18% Hispanic
11% Asian/Other
 
62% No degree
38% 4 year degree
 
 

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs