Just one in four voters (25%) say the state is headed in the right direction, the lowest percentage since November 2005 just before Governor Jon Corzine’s election. According to the most recent results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll, 65% say the state is off on the wrong track. A majority of Democrats (54%) agree the state is on the wrong track as do four of five Republicans (80%). “In part, those dismal numbers reflect that the governor himself is emphasizing that the state is on the wrong track,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll.
One in four (27%) say the governor is doing a “poor” job, up 10 percentage points from early January before his State-of-the-State speech. A third (33%) rate his performance as “good” or “excellent,” down from 36% in early January and from 42% in late October just before the state’s legislative elections. Those who use the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway to commute to work are more likely (33%-23%) to rate the governor’s performance as “poor” than other commuters. “There’s no doubt the governor’s proposal for raising tolls has taken a bite out of his public standing,” added Woolley.
The governor’s approval rate continues to drift down with 42% approving and 43% disapproving, changed from 41%-39% in late January, from 48%-32% in early January and from 51%-29% as recently as October. But Democrats give him thumbs up by a two-to-one margin (56%-28%) even while he’s behind among independents (36%-49%) and Republicans (24%-62%). Those who heard “some” or “a great deal” about the governor’s toll plan split with 41% approving of him and 45% disapproving. Those who’ve heard “little” or “none” about the financial plan approve of the governor by 44%-30%.
“Considering the beating he has taken on his toll plan, it’s remarkable his numbers are not a good deal worse,” said Woolley. “That his approval rating is not much worse suggests there is some reservoir of good will. The public condemns his toll plan but thinks he is trying to work in the public interest.”
Now, 64% of New Jersey voters say they oppose the governor’s plan to raise tolls to facilitate a fiscal restructuring, up five percentage points from late January, while 28% say they support the plan, down five percentage points from a few weeks ago. A majority of Democrats (55%) oppose the plan while two thirds of independents (68%) and three-quarters of Republicans (74%) oppose it. Public union households who depend on the state oppose the plan in numbers identical to non-public employee households (64%-28%).
Asked which budget option they would support, 51% say “make very steep budget cuts” while 20% say raise tolls, 9% say raise the gas tax and 8% say raise the income tax. Budget preferences vary significantly by party: While 69% of Republicans and 58% of independents say they prefer steep budget cuts, just 36% of Democrats say they prefer steep budget cuts. A majority of Democrats (51%) split their preferences among raising tolls, raising the gas tax and raising income tax.
“Budget cuts are easier said than done” said Woolley. “After the governor lays out those cuts, there will be no shortage of well-informed and well-organized lobbies opposing those budget reductions that affect their people.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 795 New Jersey registered voters statewide was conducted from February 18 through February 24 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Contact: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239
For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.