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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Obama Job Approval Drops in Jersey

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Policies help Wall Street, not the middle class

President Barack Obama's job rating from New Jersey residents took another dip in the latest Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll .  New Jerseyans are split on whether he deserves re-election, with many feeling his policies have ignored the needs of middle class families while benefiting Wall Street.  There is some hope, though, that the president's proposed jobs bill may have a positive impact.

Obama's Garden State job rating now stands at 49% approve to 44% disapprove among all residents and 47% to 46% among registered voters.  This marks a 5 point drop among voters from August and a 13 point drop when compared to a state poll taken shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden in May.  The only other time Obama's approval dipped below 50% in the Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll  was September 2010.  Despite the decline, the president's New Jersey rating continues to be higher than the national poll average of 44% approve to 51% disapprove reported by

In a warning sign that New Jersey is not overly enthusiastic about a second Obama term, 46% of registered voters say he deserves to be re-elected while 47% say it's time to have someone else in office.  More than 3-in-4 Democrats (78%) say he should be re-elected and the same number of Republicans (79%) say he should not.  A majority (53%) of Garden State independents prefer someone new compared to 40% who say the president has earned a second term.  Obama won New Jersey by just over 15 points in 2008.

"New Jersey voters are unhappy with an incumbent they see as disconnected from middle class concerns and are open to voting for a moderate Republican challenger.  Didn't Chris Christie already win this contest in 2009?," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  "The key for Obama is to win over middle-class independents who feel that the president has been ignoring them.  The proposed jobs package may help sway some of these voters if it is enacted."

Two-in-three (66%) New Jerseyans have heard about the jobs bill proposed by President Obama.  A majority say it will improve the national employment situation either a great deal (15%) or at least somewhat (41%) if it is passed by Congress.  Just under 4-in-10 say it will have not much (18%) or no impact at all (19%) on job creation.  There is no significant difference in opinion based on whether residents have already heard about the jobs bill or not.  These New Jersey results are nearly identical to a national ABC News/Washington Post Poll released on October 5.

New Jersey Democrats are optimistic (81%) and Republicans are pessimistic (64%) about the likelihood that Obama's jobs bill will have an impact.  Independents are split - 50% say the package would lead to at least some improvement, while 45% say it will not.

A key problem for President Obama is the continued public perception that he has turned a deaf ear to the middle class while appeasing Wall Street.  Nearly half (49%) of New Jersey residents say that Obama's policies have benefited Wall Street bankers a lot while only 9% say they have had the same impact on middle class families.  Only 15% say Wall Street has not benefited at all from the president's policies while 44% say that middle class families have been left out in the cold.

Other groups are seen as having done better than middle class families, but not anywhere near as well as Wall Street.  Specifically, 36% of New Jerseyans say that health insurance companies have benefited a lot versus 25% who say they have not benefited at all; 33% say wealthy families have benefited a lot versus 26% who say they have not benefited at all; and 19% say poor families have benefited a lot versus 34% who say they have not benefited at all.

There are no partisan differences in views of how Obama's policies have affected Wall Street bankers, health insurers, and poor families.  Republicans are less likely than Democrats and independents to say that wealthy families have benefited at least a little from Obama's policies.  Republicans and independents are less likely than Democrats to say that middle class families have benefited at least a little from Obama's policies.

These questions were also asked in a February 2010 Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll and the results were basically the same, except for how the president's policies have impacted wealthy families.  There has been a 13 percentage point increase - from 20% then to 33% in the current poll - in the number of New Jersey residents who say this group has benefited a lot.

"The poll results suggest that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are tapping into widespread public frustration.  These poll questions focused on Obama's policies, but it's not a stretch, given other poll results, to say that this dissatisfaction extends to leaders of both parties in all branches of government," said Murray.

The poll also asked New Jerseyans to rate the job performance of their two U.S. Senators.  Frank Lautenberg gets a 44% approve to 29% disapprove rating among all adults and a 43% to 31% rating among registered voters.  Bob Menendez gets a 42% approve to 28% disapprove rating among all adults and a 43% to 29% rating among registered voters.  The positive results for both senators are up slightly from August - 2 points for Lautenberg and 5 points for Menendez.

The Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll  was conducted by telephone with 817 New Jersey adults from October 5 to 9, 2011.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.4 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the NJ Press Media newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune). 

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?


2.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job Frank Lautenberg is doing as United States Senator?

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

4.     Looking ahead to next year’s election for president, do you think that Barack Obama should be re-elected, or do you think that it is time to have someone else in office?

5.     How much have each of the following groups benefited from President Obama’s policies.  [READ ITEM] – Have they benefited a lot, a little, or not at all?  [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

               Middle class families

               Wealthy families

               Poor families

               Wall Street bankers

               Health insurance companies

6.     Have you read or heard anything about President Obama’s recently proposed jobs bill, or not?

7.     Just your best guess, if Obama’s proposal passes Congress, do you think it would improve the jobs situation in the country a great deal, somewhat, not much, or not at all?


The Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on October 5 to 9, 2011 with a statewide random sample of 817 adult residents, including 714 contacted on a landline telephone and 103 on a cell phone.  Sampling and 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 3.4 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 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

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