Category Archives: Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll

Patrick Murray: Interpreting the School Budget Vote

posted by Patrick Murray on his Real Numbers and Other Musings blog

Yesterday, New Jersey voters did something they haven’t done in more than 30 years: defeated a majority of school district tax levies. [Note: I’m calling them “levies” here because that is more accurate. Voters don’t really have a say on the spending portion of the operational budgets of their local schools. They only get to vote on the amount in property taxes that the district proposes levying for the year.]

They also turned out in record numbers. The final statewide vote count hasn’t been compiled, but it is somewhere north of 20% of all registered voters. That may not sound like much, but the previous high for school elections, going back to at least 1976, was 18.6%. 1976 was also the last time a majority of school levies failed. That year, 56% went down. This year, it looks like 59% have been tossed out by voters.

A Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll released last week found that 29% of registered voters – if they did vote – would support their local school levies, while 37% would oppose them. Based on a sampling of county returns, it looks like that 8 point margin may hold up in the final statewide vote.

There are some other interesting findings as well. Taking Middlesex County as just one example, compared to the April 2009 election, turnout in this one county was up by 65%. The number of “No” votes went up by 90%. But the number of “Yes” votes also went up, albeit by a lower 40%. In other words, turnout increased on both sides of the issue.

So what does this all mean?

Chris Christie and his supporters have claimed victory, saying that New Jersey voters sided with the governor in his battle with the state teacher’s union, the NJEA. However, the governor urged voters to defeat budgets in districts where the teachers made no concessions – and a good number of these actually passed. On the flip side, in the few districts where teachers actually agreed to wage freezes or other concessions – the districts one would expect to be rewarded if voters were out to show support for the governor – a good number (anywhere between 6 and 13 depending on what you count as a “concession”) of the school budget levies failed.

The NJEA claims that the school vote was a repudiation of the governor’s draconian cuts in school aid which forced school boards to raise property taxes in order to maintain needed programs and services. Maybe, but polls also indicate that the public expected teachers to be willing to take pay freezes and pay for their benefits.

Local school boards say the vote was the product of a rush to make drastic cuts in a short time frame with few available tools to lessen the pain for both the educational system and the taxpayers. They may be partially right, but polls consistently show that voters believe there is a whole lot of waste in school spending to begin with.

So, here’s what we know about the New Jersey public:
1. They think the size of the cuts in state aid to local schools is unfair.
2. They think the teachers’ unions should be willing to come to the table and agree to a wage freeze and benefit contributions.
3. They don’t want educational programs cut.
4. They don’t want their property taxes raised.

All of these are reasons why Garden State voters voted yesterday. They are the reasons why more people than usual turned out to vote “No.” And they are also the reasons why more people than usual turned out to vote “Yes.”

Anyone who claims with certainty that any of these reasons is the main factor behind a majority of school levies going down yesterday is just blowing smoke….

Read more >>>Here

Patrick Murray is the founding director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute and is a frequent media commentator on politics and public opinion,

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Filed under budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, Patrick Murray, school budgets

Patrick Murray: Conflicting Polls on the Teachers’ Union? Not Really.

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 Eagleton Poll (and here) found 57% of New Jerseyans feel that school aid should not be cut and 72% are opposed to “making it easier” to lay off teachers to solve local budget problems.

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.]…

You can read more >>> Here

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Monmouth University, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, Patrick Murray, State aid cuts, Teachers, unions

Corzine Narrows Gap to 3 Points New Poll Shows

By The Associated Press
October 01, 2009, 5:11AM

Another poll out today finds Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine closing the gap on Republican challenger Chris Christie in the New Jersey governor’s race.

Forty-three percent of likely voters in the Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll out Thursday favored Christie, 40 percent Corzine and 8 percent independent Chris Daggett. The 3-point difference is within the poll’s sampling error margin of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Corzine’s disadvantage is down from 14 percentage points in August.

A Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday found similar erosion of Christie’s margin. Christie led 43 percent to 39 percent among likely voters. A Sept. 1 poll had Christie up by 10 percentage points.

The Monmouth/Gannett poll surveyed 527 likely voters from Sept. 24-29.

The election for New Jersey Governor will be held on Nov. 3.

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Filed under Associated Press, Chris Christie, Gov. Jon Corzine, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, New Jersey,, Quinipiac Poll

Poll: Among All Registered Voters Corzine has Over taken Christie

In the latest Monmouth University/Gannett Poll released Sunday, Governor Corzine has for the first time overtaken his opponent Chris Christie, in the race for New Jersey’s governorship.

Among all registered voters polled, Jon Corzine has a lead of 41% to 40% over Christie. This is significant since Christie had a 4 point lead among registered voters in the August poll and a 6 point lead in July.
the results also indicate there is a lot of churning in this electorate. Despite the incumbent’s continued unpopularity, there is still a sense that anything can happen.” said Patrick Murry the poll director .

Amog likely voters however, Christie still holds the leads over Corzine 47% to 39 %, but Christie’s lead is down 6 points from the advantage he held in August when he led Corzine 50 percent to 36 percent.

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Filed under Chris Christie, Chris Dagget, Gov. Jon Corzine, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, Patrick Murry

Democratic Poll Shows Closer New Jersey Race

To counter a poll published earlier from Monmouth/Gannett showing Chris Christie (R) expanding his lead in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race to 14 points, an internal Democratic poll was suddenly released that shows Gov. Jon Corzine (D) just seven points behind.

The poll shows Christie leading Corzine, 42% to 35%, with independent Christopher Daggett getting 6%. –

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Filed under Chris Christie, Gov. Jon Corzine, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, New Jersey, political wire

What Does Corzine Need to Do?

With the most recent Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll finding that Governor Corzine has 51% disapproval rating amonst registered voters I ask the question, What does Governor Corzine need to do change peoples opinion of the job he is doing?

It is becoming evident that the many accomplishments of the Corzine administration are being lost within all of the bad news about the economy and he is not getting a fair shake for those accomplishments by voters. According to the Monmouth poll voters give governor Corzine an overall approval grade of “C-“

According to Tom Hester, who writes for

“Corzine may not be getting the message of what he and his administration feel are his accomplishments as governor, but his campaign aides maintain the accomplishments can be found.

“Governor Corzine has been making the tough choices to reshape and resize state government,” said Elisabeth Smith, a campaign spokeswoman. “He eliminated and consolidated departments, reduced the state workforce by 7,000 employees and increased the retirement age from 55 to 62. While prioritizing education and health care, this year’s budget is $1.8 billion less than the first budget he introduced. In fact, because the Governor made the right choices, he is the only New Jersey governor in 60 years to reduce the size of state government.”

Smith said governor Corzine made government leaner and more efficient, he launched a first-in-the-nation economic recovery program, instituted a new school funding formula and expedited billions of dollars in new school construction. She said Corzine made meaningful reforms to ease the state’s property tax burden, and this year, property taxes rose by the smallest amount in a decade. On Corzine’s watch, Smith said, 80,000 more children have been enrolled in the state’s health insurance program and the governor took a child welfare system that was once rated among the worst in the country, and made it one of the best.

“Protecting New Jersey’s environment has always been – and continues to be – a top priority for Governor Corzine,” Smith said. “With one of the strongest solar programs in the nation and potentially the country’s first offshore wind project in development, New Jersey is a national leader. By embracing new approaches to energy, New Jersey is providing the pathway to both economic prosperity and environmental protection.”

So I ask you, what is the one message or concern that you have for the Governor? What do you think he needs to hear and what would you like him to do?

I plan on sitting down with him briefly one day during the 1st week of August, I will present your ideas to him and ask him to adress as many of them as possible and I will let you know what he had to say.

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Filed under Elisabeth Smith, Gov. Jon Corzine, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, New Jersey Newsroom, Tom Hester

JOB WORRIES CREATE STRESS IN JERSEY; Anxiety increases among all income levels since last year

Press Release

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fully 2-in-3 New Jerseyans say the current economic situation is causing stress in their lives. The latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll also found that lack of job security leads the list of their economic concerns.

Overall, 31% of New Jerseyans say the economic downturn has caused serious stress in their lives and another 36% say it has caused them stress, although not serious. Just 32% say that the current situation causes them no stress at all. These findings are similar to a national ABC News/Washington Post Poll taken in March, which found that 61% of Americans felt stress from the economy, including 33% with serious stress. Two-thirds of New Jersey residents at all income levels feel at least some stress due to the economy ñ including under $50,000 (67%), $50,000 to $100,000 (71%), and over $100,000 (65%).

The poll also asked New Jersey residents to place themselves on a ladder of life satisfaction, where step “10” represents the best possible life for them and step ì0î represents the worst possible life. The average New Jerseyan places himself or herself between the 5th and 6th steps ñ 5.7 to be exact. This is a full step below the average satisfaction rating of 6.8 that New Jerseyans gave themselves just two years ago. Overall, residents in all income levels and age groups have moved down a step on the life satisfaction ladder since April 2007.

Specifically, only 1-in-5 (19%) residents currently place themselves on the top three steps (i.e. 8, 9, or 10), which is down from 39% two years ago. By comparison, nearly half (47%) put themselves on the lowest rungs (0 through 5), which is nearly double the 25% who said the same in an April 2007 poll.

While they are now less satisfied with their lives, 2-in-3 New Jerseyans (68%) continue to say their household’s financial situation is basically good, compared to 29% who say it is in bad shape. Positive evaluations are down only slightly from last year, when a May 2008 poll found that 73% of state residents regarded their familyís finances as good.

“It appears that most New Jerseyans are doing what they need to do to keep their household budgets solvent, but itís putting a strain on their quality of life,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The biggest cause of anxiety seems to be not so much whatís happening to them now, but fear of what may be coming down the line. “

When asked to name their main economic concerns right now, 30% of Garden State resident say they worry about potential unemployment and another 20% say they are worried about what’s happened to their retirement accounts or other investments. About 1-in-5 say meeting their mortgage (14%) or rent (4%) payment is a primary concern, 18% say it is college tuition or school costs, 16% say it is healthcare costs, and 5% say it is taxes. Another 21% report that paying “everyday bills” is their main economic worry.

Among New Jerseyans who are currently employed, nearly half (46%) feel less secure in their present job compared to a couple of years ago. In a poll taken in May 2008, just 30% said they felt less job security. Currently, only 19% of employed New Jerseyans feel more secure in their jobs and 35% feel about the same job security as they did a couple of years ago. Just last year, 27% of working Garden State residents felt more secure in their jobs and 42% felt as secure as they had in the past.

The poll also found that heightened anxiety about unemployment extends to the entire household. When asked about job loss potentially affecting their family, 44% of New Jerseyans say they are very concerned that someone in their household might be out of work in the next 12 months. Another 25% are somewhat concerned that this might happen and just 30% are not at all concerned. Just one year ago, only 33% were very concerned about this, while 42% were not at all concerned.

Currently, half of Garden State residents whose household income is less than $50,000 (52%), or who are under age 35 (50%), are very concerned about a job loss in their household in the coming year. Last year, these numbers stood at 41% for lower income families and 39% for younger adults. Concern about potential job loss has increased for higher income earners as well. Currently, 42% of those earning $50,000 to $100,000 are very concerned (up from 34% last year) and 33% of those earning more than $100,000 are very concerned (up from 25% last year) about someone in their home being out of work in the coming year.

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from April 23 to 27, 2009. 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 Gannett New Jersey newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

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Filed under anxiety, economic downturn, job worries, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, New Jerseyans, stress