The political climate in New Jersey heading into the 2022 midterm election continues to worsen for Democrats, with 52% of residents saying the state is on the wrong track and 38% saying New Jersey in headed in the right direction, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released on Monday morning.
The poll was conducted between February 25 and March 4 and questions have been released in dribs and drabs for the last two weeks. The same survey puts Murphy’s favorables upside-down at 33%-38%, with job approvals at 49%-46%.
More than half of New Jerseyans who identify themselves as independents (55%) say the state is on the wrong track, with 33% viewing things headed in the right direction. Among Democrats, it’s 64% right direction, 26% wrong track; 82% of Republicans say New Jersey is on the wrong track, while 13% view it as moving in the right direction.
Most people in South Jersey (59%-35%) and along the Jersey shore (61%-29%) say the state is on the wrong track. More men (52%) and women (51%) say wrong; so do White residents (57%). It’s 50%-33% among Black residents; among Hispanics, right direction/wrong track is nearly split at 43%-41%).
“New Jerseyans have a slightly better outlook on the state’s future nowadays than when the Murphy administration first took over in 2018, but pessimistic views still outweigh optimistic ones,” said Ashley Koning, the director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “Residents have been more negative about the Garden State since March 2014, a streak broken only temporarily in June 2021 in the wake of Governor Murphy’s pandemic-induced high ratings, COVID-19 vaccine availability, and the state opening up after a year of pandemic restrictions.”
According to the Rutgers-Eagleton poll, 54% of New Jerseyans are satisfied with the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 55% economy and job, 6% in education and schools, 57% on crime and safety, 61% on health care, and 58% on the environment.
But 76% of New Jerseyan are dissatisfied with taxes, 55% on state budget and spending issues, and 80% on the state’s affordability.
The poll shows a split state on transportation and infrastructure (48% satisfied/48% dissatisfied), and on mental health and addiction services (36% satisfied and 47% dissatisfied).
“Satisfaction with how the New Jersey state government is handling a range of issues has changed little in the past four years despite the change in administration in 2018,” Koning stated. “Taxes and affordability are issues that have continually plagued the state, at least in the past five decades that we have been polling, while education has always been viewed as a strong point.”
The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.