Home>Congress>Poll finds broad support for Biden infrastructure plan in three competitive NJ congressional districts

President Joe Biden. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Poll finds broad support for Biden infrastructure plan in three competitive NJ congressional districts

Constituents want Sherrill, Malinowski, Kim to back proposal

By Nikita Biryukov, May 27 2021 1:34 pm

A new poll found broad support for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan in three of New Jersey’s competitive House districts.

The poll found majorities of voters in the third (55%), seventh (60%) and 11th (59%) said they favored the president’s infrastructure bill, and similar numbers of voters said they wanted their congressional representatives to back the bill.

“Climate change is fueling more frequent and destructive extreme weather disasters in New Jersey,” Environment New Jersey State Director Doug O’Malley said. “The American Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in what matters and tackle the climate crisis, and this data demonstrates New Jerseyans firmly support President Biden’s plans to invest in our infrastructure.”

It’s unlikely Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), Andy Kim (D-Bordentown) or Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) would break from their caucus and oppose the measure, though another New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) has threatened to oppose the bill unless it comes coupled with a repeal of the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

Hart Research partner Molly O’Rourke said budgetary constraints kept the poll from measuring support for the infrastructure plan in the fifth district.

The SALT cap, enacted in Republicans’ 2017 tax bill, disproportionately impacts residents in high-tax states like New Jersey, though some Democrats in Congress are wary about repealing the cap over worries that it would disproportionately benefit wealthy residents.

Sherrill and Malinowski joined Gottheimer and other members of the state’s congressional delegation warning they would not back a bill with a “meaningful tax impact” on New Jersey residents absent movement on the SALT cap.

“We could not vote for a bill that has a meaningful tax impact on our constituents unless it restores SALT deduction relief to our middle-class families,” they said in an April letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Negotiations over the plan are ongoing in Congress, though Republican lawmakers in the Senate appear resistant to Biden’s proposals even after he offered a pared down $1.7 trillion plan last week, a reduction of roughly $600 billion from the initial package.

Though the poll did not measure support for either package specifically — pollsters feared new movement in negotiations could invalidate the surveys before they were released, O’Rourke said — it did poll some of its proposed funding mechanisms.

Slim-to-solid majorities of voters supported rolling back cuts to the corporate tax rate enacted by the 2017 tax bill. Support for that funding mechanism was softest in the affluent 11th district, where 54% of voters backed raising the corporate tax rate to 28%.

In the seventh district, 61% backed raising corporate taxes to pay for infrastructure investment, as did 58% of respondents in the third district.

Support for ending public subsidies to fossil fuel companies was a little firmer. Fifty-seven percent of 11th district voters backed that proposal compared to 61% in the seventh district and 58% in the third.

Specific measures sought by Biden won overwhelming support across all three districts. Improvements to roads and bridges and modernization of public transportation won support from more than eight-in-10 voters from each district, as did a proposal to replace every lead water line in America.

Funding for the Gateway Project won support from about three-quarters of voters in the seventh and 11th districts but was less important to voters in the South-Jersey-based third district. Biden’s plan calls for an $80 billion dollar investment in Amtrak. That money would more than pay for Gateway, which carries a price tag of about $30 billion.

Three-quarters of third-district voters had favorable opinions of the Biden’s proposal to weatherize coastal communities along the Jersey Shore, and clear majorities in each district backed greater reliance on renewable energy sources and investment in electric vehicles.

The poll was conducted by Hart Research Associates, which earned a B- rating from FiveThirtyEight, which grades on historical accuracy and methodology of political polling companies, and was commissioned by Environment New Jersey, Environment America and Earth Justice.

The organization polled 300 registered voters who cast a ballot in at least one federal election since 2016 in each of the districts. Interviews were conducted on live telephone calls, and the margin of error was 5.7%.

Majorities of voters in each of the third (61%), seventh (58%) and 11th (52%) agreed with Biden’s definition of bipartisanship, one that measured support from rank-and-file voters instead of backing among congressional representatives from each party.

The poll found support for the plan among voters in the three districts increased when messaging focused on its climate impacts. In the third and 11th districts, 61% of respondents said a focus on climate change messaging would make them more likely to back the bill, while 67% of respondents in the seventh district said the same.

A group of New Jersey mayors joined environmental advocates boosting the infrastructure plan Thursday, including a Republican.

“When it comes to infrastructure, there ought to be no room for party politics. What my residents care about is having clean water and fixing a sewer system that because of its age has caused frequent backups into their basements,” Dunellen Mayor Jason Cilentro said. “It is very expensive to repair our wastewater pipes and pumping stations. The proposed infrastructure funding will enable us to make significant and lasting repairs and upgrades, without adding to everyone’s property tax burden.”

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