Patrick Murray, who is the founding director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute and is a frequent media commentator on politics and public opinion, has posted on his blog an explanation for the seemingly conflicting poll results that were released last week dealing with Governor Christie’s budget, school aid cuts and state unions. He points out that even though the three polls seem to tell conflicting storys. they don’t. The separate polls “really tell separate pieces of a cohesive – but nuanced – story.”
Here’s what he has to say:
A trio of polls were released last week on Governor Chris Christie’s budget, particularly focusing on school aid cuts and state unions. According to at least one report, these polls were “seemingly at odds” with one another (also here). But if you look at what the three polls actually asked, they really tell separate pieces of a cohesive – but nuanced – story.
The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll found 68% of the public see the cuts as being unfair to some groups (with teachers being among the top “victims”) and Governor Christie is seen as the more negative party in the NJEA dust-up, and ultimately more responsible for the impending teacher layoffs.
The Rasmussen Poll found 65% of likely voters favor having school employees (including teachers, administrators and other workers) take a one year wage freeze to help make up for the deficit in state funding.
I really don’t find anything too contradictory in those results. Public opinion is rarely black and white (as national polling about the health reform debate dramatically illustrates). The real difference in these three polls is that each chose to cover a different facet of the issue.
Both the Eagleton and Monmouth polls asked residents about their opinion of the governor’s proposed budget and how it will affect them personally.
Eagleton also asked quite a few questions about what areas of the budget should or should not be cut and what, if any, tax increases the public is willing to accept in order to avoid those cuts (none, apparently).
Monmouth’s survey included questions on impressions of Christie’s budget in comparison to Jon Corzine’s first budget (trends are a wonderful tool for providing context) and a focus on communication with the general public, including the NJEA battle and reaction to key terms used to describe the budget (e.g. “tough” and “fair”).
Rasmussen’s poll asked four questions, mainly focused on state worker concessions to deal with the budget crisis.
In terms of election polling, Rasmussen has a very good track record and, by my reckoning, had the most accurate final pre-election poll in last year’s gubernatorial race. [And admittedly, Monmouth, along with Zogby, YouGov, and Democracy Corp, came up with the wrong end of the stick in the final days of that campaign. Eagleton did not issue a final election poll.]…