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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Garden State Trivia

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time for New Jersey to start cracking the books

Who knew?  New Jersey Monthly  magazine's July 2006 issue presents 52 pieces of Jerseyana that every resident should know.  At the same time, the editors identified 3 additional key facts about the state and asked Monmouth University's Polling Institute to find out how many New Jersey adults actually know them.

The results aren't particularly encouraging.  A bare majority of adult residents (52%) can name the Delaware River as the body of water that forms New Jersey's western border and just under half (45%) can correctly name their town's mayor.  New Jerseyans do even worse on history then they do on geography or civics - only 6% of adult residents know that the Declaration of Independence includes five signatures from the Garden State.  For the record, the signers were Abraham Clark, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, Richard Stockton, and John Witherspoon.

An interesting finding from the poll is that knowledge in two of these areas doesn't vary by education levels.  The percentage who can name their mayor ranges from 45 to 48 percent and the percentage who know there were five New Jersey signers to our nation's founding document ranges from 4 to 7 percent, regardless of whether has any college experience or stopped at high school.  Only in the area of geography does education give an advantage - 67% of college graduates, 52% of those attended a few years of college and 43% of those with a high school education know that you must cross the Delaware River to head west.

This telephone poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute with 803 New Jersey adults from April 17 to 20, 2006.  This sample has a margin of error of ± 3.5 percent.  These poll results are featured in the July 2006 issue of New Jersey Monthly  magazine.  Other findings from the poll include:

Geography  -

When it comes to the state's geography, some residents seem to suffer from mirror vision.  While 52% correctly identify the Delaware River as the state's western boundary, 1-in-10 name an eastern water body, including 9% who name the Atlantic Ocean and 2% who name the Hudson River.  Another 7% name some other body of water and 30% offer no answer at all.

Interestingly, even among those residents who live in the state's western counties, only about 7-in-10 can name the Delaware River as the state boundary nearest to them.  Also, men (60%) do better than women (45%) on this geography question.

Civics  -

While 45% of New Jerseyans correctly name the mayor of their town, it's worth noting that another 7% take a stab at the name, but get it wrong - indeed, one Trenton resident thought she "Mayor McGreevey" was running for re-election - and another 13% say they know who their mayor is but then draw a blank on the name.  The remaining 35% don't even hazard a guess.  North Jersey residents, especially those in urban municipalities, are slightly more likely than other state residents to know their mayor's name.

History  -

When asked how many New Jerseyans signed the Declaration of Independence, the answers varied widely - from 1% who believe that this document contains no Garden State signatories to 7% who think that a gang of 10 or more New Jersey representatives were present at the Continental Congress.  The most popular guesses were either two (13%) or three (11%) signers, although nearly half (48%) wouldn't even take a stab at the question.  Patrick Murray director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute remarked, "For this question, I would have to believe that the 6% of adults who answered correctly includes a good number of lucky guesses."

   

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:  

1.         To the best of your knowledge, what body of water borders New Jersey to the WEST?

2.         Your best guess - how many New Jerseyans signed the Declaration of Independence? 

3.         Do you happen to know the name of the mayor of your town?

Results for this poll are based on telephone interviews conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on April 17-20, 2006 with a statewide random sample of 803 adult residents.  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.

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 which 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

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