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New Jersey Divided on Governor

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fewer than half aware of town hall meetings


New Jersey residents are divided on Governor Chris Christie’s job performance and his ratings have dropped since the last Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll  in February.  He now stands at 47% approve to 49% disapprove among all state residents.  Among registered voters, he has a 46% positive to 49% negative job rating.

The change in Christie’s rating comes mainly from the number of people who shifted from having no opinion of the governor a few months ago to holding a negative view today.  In February, 47% of residents held a positive opinion of Christie – identical to the result in the current poll.  However, the number who disapprove has increased by 9 points, while the number who have no opinion of their governor’s job performance decreased by 7 points.  Christie receives positive ratings from 75% of Republicans, 53% of independents, and 22% of Democrats.

The state budget looms large in New Jerseyan’s perceptions of Christie.  Nearly 9-in-10 (86%) say they have been following the budget debate, including 33% who have heard a lot about it.  This is slightly lower than the nearly half who closely followed last year’s budget process, but still higher than similar attention levels for the budgets of prior governors.  [ Note:  the poll was conducted before the latest state revenue projections were released. ]

This year’s budget has been less controversial than Christie’s inaugural effort, but residents are only slightly more happy with the current spending plan than they were last year.   About 1-in-4 (24%) say they are satisfied with the budget compared to 39% who are dissatisfied.  Another 35% say they can live with the budget proposal even though they are not particularly satisfied with it.  Last spring, 22% of the public was satisfied with the state budget plan and 44% were dissatisfied.

Like last year, the public is split on whether the budget is the product of tough, thoughtful choices (45%) or just more of the same old political deals (48%).  Republicans (63%) and independents (53%) are more likely to say Christie’s budget is tough and thoughtful while Democrats (68%) are more likely to see it as political deal making.

“Two years of austere budgets may be taking a toll on the governor.  Efforts to sell his reform agenda at town hall meetings generate a lot of media attention, but it appears that New Jerseyans who are paying the most attention to these events have already made up their minds about the governor’s proposals,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Since taking office, Governor Christie has held many town hall meetings throughout the state to present his reform agenda.  While these events have received national attention for their “YouTube” moments, less than half (46%) of the New Jersey public report having read or heard anything about them.  Among those who have been following the governor’s meet-and-greets, 35% say these forums do a lot to help residents understand what’s going on in Trenton, 30% say they do a little, and 30% say they don’t do much in the terms of informing state residents.  About half of Republicans (49%) say they provide a lot of information while about half of Democrats (48%) say they don’t provide much at all.  Independents are split – 37% say the town halls provide a lot of information and 27% say they provide not much at all.

The governor’s cuts to aid for municipalities have increased the burden of providing services at the local level.  According to state residents, their local governments have been handling this well.  Most New Jerseyans (55%) say that their municipality has done a good job at keeping spending down in the past year.  This view is held by majorities of Democrats (58%), Republicans (56%), and independents (54%) alike.  Just 35% of state residents say their local government has done a bad job.

About 6-in-10 residents (59%) are aware that their town is now under a two percent property tax cap.  While some local officials say they will not be able to meet the needs of their constituents under the cap, only 30% of residents are worried that too many essential services will be cut.  Twice as many (62%) believe that their local government will still be able to provide most essential services with the cap in place.

In other poll findings, ratings for the state legislature continue to be negative – just 33% approve of their legislature’s performance while 47% disapprove.  A majority (54%) of residents say things in New Jersey are on the wrong track.  Only 1-in-3 (35%) say the state is headed in the right direction, which is similar to other results over the past five years.

The Monmouth University NJ Press Media Poll  was conducted by telephone with 807 New Jersey adults from May 12 to 16, 2011.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the New Jersey Press Media newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

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

  1. Would you say things in New Jersey are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Right direction 35% 34% 40% 26% 36% 49% 29% 37%
Wrong track 54% 55% 51% 63% 53% 42% 67% 50%
(VOL) Depends 8% 8% 7% 8% 8% 6% 1% 10%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 3% 2% 2% 3% 2% 3% 3%
  Unwtd N  

807

725 82 227 389 172 228

575

TREND: All adults May
2011
Sept.
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Feb.
2009
Sept.
2008
July
2007
April
2007
Feb.
2007
Sept.
2006
July
2006
April
2006
Sept.
2005
  Right direction 35% 37% 37% 29% 21% 26% 39% 33% 34% 29% 27% 30% 31%
  Wrong track 54% 51% 55% 56% 72% 64% 50% 51% 55% 58% 62% 55% 54%
  (VOL) Depends 8% 6% 5% 5% 3% 4% 6% 8% 6% 6% 4% 9% 5%
  (VOL) Don’t know 3% 5% 4% 9% 4% 6% 6% 8% 6% 7% 7% 6% 10%
  Unwtd N

807

801 804 803 803 808 800 804 801 800 802 803 800

 

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Chris Christie is doing as governor? [PROBE: Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?]

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Strongly approve 23% 25% 12% 6% 26% 45% 17% 25%
Somewhat approve 24% 21% 36% 16% 27% 30% 17% 26%
Somewhat disapprove 18% 16% 28% 26% 17% 7% 15% 19%
Strongly disapprove 31% 33% 20% 46% 24% 17% 48% 25%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 5% 5% 5% 6% 1% 2% 6%
  Unwtd N  

807

725 82 227 389 172 228

575

TREND: All adults May
2011
Feb.
2011
Sept.
2010
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve 47% 47% 45% 44% 41% 33%
Disapprove 49% 40% 38% 44% 44% 15%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 12% 17% 12% 15% 52%
Unwtd N

807

801 801 801 804

803

TREND:
Registered voters
May
2011
Feb.
2011
Sept. 2010 July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
Approve 46% 49% 44% 45% 42% 31%
Disapprove 49% 41% 40% 43% 44% 15%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 9% 16% 12% 13% 53%
Unwtd N

725

718 726 747 719

716

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

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Approve 33% 32% 39% 36% 30% 35% 25% 36%
Disapprove 47% 48% 41% 43% 53% 40% 53% 45%
(VOL) Don’t know 20% 20% 20% 22% 17% 25% 23% 19%
  Unwtd N  

807

725 82 227 389 172 228

575

TREND: All Adults May
2011
Feb.
2011
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
July
2009
Feb.
2009
Sept.
2008
July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Oct.
2007
Feb.
2007
Approve 33% 30% 24% 20% 26% 30% 25% 29% 27% 29% 28% 33% 35%
Disapprove 47% 44% 49% 56% 46% 47% 52% 47% 45% 53% 50% 41% 40%
(VOL) Don’t know 20% 26% 27% 24% 28% 23% 23% 23% 28% 18% 22% 26% 25%
Unwtd N

807

801 801 804 803 923 803 808 1004 803 805 801

801

TREND: Registered Voters May
2011
Feb.
2011
July
2010
April
2010
Feb.
2010
July
2009
Feb.
2009
Sept.
2008
July
2008
April
2008
March
2008
Oct.
2007
Feb.
2007
Approve 32% 29% 25% 19% 24% 31% 23% 29% 27% 28% 25% 32% 34%
Disapprove 48% 45% 49% 57% 49% 48% 55% 50% 47% 55% 53% 43% 42%
(VOL) Don’t know 20% 26% 26% 24% 27% 22% 22% 21% 26% 17% 22% 25% 23%
Unwtd N

725

718 747 719 716 792 721 709 889 720 719 688

681

  1. Thinking about Chris Christie’s term as governor so far, would you say that he has major accomplishments, minor accomplishments, or no real accomplishments to point to?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Major accomplishments 23% 25% 17% 8% 26% 45% 21% 24%
Minor accomplishments 40% 39% 46% 41% 40% 36% 32% 42%
No real accomplishments 34% 35% 32% 49% 31% 18% 47% 30%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 2% 5% 2% 3% 1% 0% 3%
  Unwtd N  

807

725 82 227 389 172 228

575

TREND: May
2011
Feb.
2011
Major accomplishments 23% 25%
Minor accomplishments 40% 39%
No real accomplishments 34% 34%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 2%
Unwtd N

807

801

  1. How much have you heard or read about Governor Christie’s state budget plan – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

A lot 33% 36% 17% 32% 31% 39% 46% 29%
A little 53% 52% 57% 52% 55% 52% 41% 57%
Nothing at all 13% 11% 25% 16% 14% 9% 12% 13%
  Unwtd N  

807

725 82 227 389 172 228 575

 

TREND: May
2011
April
2010
A lot 33% 45%
A little 53% 44%
Nothing at all 13% 11%
Unwtd N

807

804

[NOTE: QUESTIONS 6 AND 7 WERE ASKED ONLY OF THOSE WHO HEARD “A LOT” OR “A LITTLE” ABOUT THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET PLAN: moe = ± 3.7%]

  1. How would you describe your reaction to the governor’s budget plan – would you say you are satisfied with it, not particularly satisfied but you can live with it, or you are definitely dissatisfied with it?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID PUBLIC
WORKER

BUDGET
AWARENESS

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes No Lot

Little

Satisfied 24% 24% 24% 8% 24% 48% 18% 25% 30% 20%
Can live with it 35% 33% 47% 31% 40% 30% 23% 39% 24% 42%
Dissatisfied 39% 40% 27% 61% 32% 18% 55% 33% 45% 35%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 3% 2% 1% 3% 4% 4% 2% 1% 4%
  Unwtd N  

721

657 64 198 347 159 209 509 309

412

TREND: May
2011
April
2010
Satisfied 24% 22%
Can live with it 35% 32%
Dissatisfied 39% 44%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 2%
Unwtd N

721

738

  1. In general, would you describe the governor’s budget plan as: the product of tough, thoughtful choices – OR – more of the same old political dealings? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID PUBLIC
WORKER

BUDGET
AWARENESS

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes No Lot

Little

Tough, thoughtful choices 45% 46% 35% 23% 53% 63% 40% 46% 45% 44%
Same old political dealings 48% 46% 60% 68% 40% 32% 52% 47% 46% 49%
(VOL) Some of both 4% 4% 3% 3% 4% 3% 3% 4% 5% 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 4% 2% 5% 3% 2% 5% 3% 4% 3%
  Unwtd N  

721

657 64 198 347 159 209 509 309

412

TREND: May
2011
April
2010
Tough, thoughtful choices 45% 46%
Same old political dealings 48% 46%
(VOL) Some of both 4% 2%
(VOL) Don’t Know 3% 6%
Unwtd N

721

738

  1. Governor Christie has been holding town hall meetings with residents throughout the state to discuss his policies. Have you read or heard anything about these meetings, or not?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Yes, heard of 46% 51% 18% 36% 49% 54% 60% 41%
No, not aware 54% 49% 82% 64% 51% 46% 40% 59%
  Unwtd N  

807

725 82 227 389 172 228

575

 [The following question was asked only of those who said “Yes, heard of” to Q8, moe= ± 4.6%]

  1. Do you think these town hall meetings do a lot, a little, or not much at all in helping residents understand what’s going on in Trenton?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

A lot 35% 36% 25% 21% 37% 49% 26% 39%
A little 30% 28% 59% 27% 30% 36% 31% 30%
Not much at all 30% 31% 8% 48% 27% 13% 37% 26%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 5% 8% 4% 6% 2% 6% 4%
  Unwtd N  

460

435 25 113 233 101 158

300

  1. Turning to your own town or city – Do you think your local government has done a good job or bad job at keeping spending down in the past year?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Good job 55% 56% 48% 58% 54% 56% 60% 54%
Bad job 35% 34% 41% 28% 39% 37% 28% 38%
(VOL) Don’t know 10% 9% 10% 14% 7% 6% 12% 9%
  Unwtd N   807 725 82 227 389 172 228 575
  1. Have you heard about a statewide property tax cap that limits local government to increasing property tax collections by no more than two percent each year, or were you not aware of this?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Yes, heard of 59% 63% 36% 48% 62% 67% 73% 54%
No, not aware 41% 37% 60% 51% 36% 33% 26% 45%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 0% 4% 0% 2% 0% 1% 1%
  Unwtd N  

807

725 82 227 389 172 228

575

[The following question was asked only of those who said “Yes, heard of” to Q11, moe= ± 4.1%]

  1. Do you think that with the two percent property tax cap, your local government will still be able to provide most essential services or that too many essential services will be cut?

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER
PARTY ID

PUBLIC
WORKER

 

Yes

No Dem Ind Rep Yes

No

Still able to provide most essential services 62% 64% 36% 46% 68% 71% 61% 62%
Too many essential services will be cut 30% 29% 45% 42% 25% 24% 32% 30%
(VOL) Don’t know 8% 7% 18% 12% 7% 5% 7% 8%
  Unwtd N  

562

522 40 135 288 124 177

383

The Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on May 12 to 16, 2011 with a statewide random sample of 807 adult residents.  Sampling and live telephone interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  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.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

35% Dem 48% Male 27% 18-34

66% White

21% Rep 52% Female 40% 35-54

12% Black

44% Ind   33% 55+

14% Hispanic

     

  8% Asian/Other

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

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

Download this Poll Report with all tables