Home>Feature>Monmouth Poll: huge majority of N.J. backs school mask mandate, but state is split on mandatory vaccines for children

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Monmouth Poll: huge majority of N.J. backs school mask mandate, but state is split on mandatory vaccines for children

62% of New Jersey voters support bringing back face masks and social distancing

By David Wildstein, August 23 2021 11:00 am

By a margin of about 2-1, New Jersey voters – including those with school age children – are backing Gov. Phil Murphy’s school mask mandate, but people are split, 45%-44%, on whether the state should at some point mandate Covid vaccinations for children under age 12 in order to attend school in person, a new Monmouth University Poll released on Monday morning said.

A little more than half of New Jersey voters (53%) say that they would approve of a vaccine mandate for children over age 12 to attend school, and 38% say they would disapprove.  Among independents, the issue is tied at 46%.

A majority of New Jerseyans (62%) say they support reinstituting face mask and social distancing guidelines, with 45% saying they strongly support it and 17% saying they support it somewhat.  Of the 35% who oppose the policy, 14% say they somewhat oppose it and 21% are n strong opposition.

Among voters with school-age children, that number jumps 59%-36%, with 47% strongly in support and 26% in strong opposition.  Among independents, support more masks and social distancing is at 59%-40%.

“The vocal opposition to the state’s school mask mandate is a decidedly minority view,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  “However, there may be greater pushback from parents if a vaccine mandate was instituted for school children.”

Among people of color, vaccine mandates to attend school is backed 61%-28%, with the number among whites at 51%-41%.

On the more controversial topic of requiring children under age 12 to be vaccinated in the coming months, the issue is upside-down among independents (42%-50%).  The vaccine mandate gets the approval of people of color (55%-35%), but more whites oppose it than support it (43%-47%).

On a state requirement that students, teachers and staff in all schools wear masks, 67% approve of Murphy’s order.  The move has 63% buy-in from independents, and 69% from parents with children at home.

Most New Jerseyans (68%) are concerned that someone in their family might become seriously ill from Covid.  That’s up from 63% in a Monmouth poll released in May, but still far off the 85% in April 2020.

More than four-in-ten New Jerseyans (43%) say they are very concerned about someone in the family becoming seriously ill from Covid, while another 25% say they are somewhat concerned.  Less than 30% of state voters are not concerned: 17% say they’re not too concerned, while another 12% aren’t at all concerned.

Slightly less than half of the state (48%) say that based on current conditions, New Jersey school should open fully for in-person instruction, while 39% prefer a mix of in-person and remote learning.  A small number of voters (8%) want schools to be fully remote.

That number increases to 53% among people with children at home, with 40% preferring a hybrid system and just 6% seeking fully remote learning.  Among independent voters, the number is a little closer: 48% want schools to be entirely in-person, 41% want a mix, and 4% prefer all-remote learning.

Asked if the measures taken by New Jersey state government to slow the spread of Covid were appropriate, 45% say they were at 25% view it as having gone too far.  Another 24% say New Jersey hasn’t gone far enough.

A majority of New Jersey voters (51%) view New Jersey as doing better than other states in dealing with the pandemic, while 17% say worse and 27% see it as about the same.

“The delta variant has raised public concern, but New Jerseyans look at what is happening in places like Florida and Texas and feel we have things under better control here,” said Murray.

According to the poll, 70% of New Jerseyans said they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Another 2% say they will be vaccinated as soon as possible, with 5% indicating that they will wait to “see how it goes.”  In New Jersey, 10% of voters say they will likely never be vaccinated.

Vaccinations aren’t necessarily along party lines in New Jersey: 90% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans and 74% of independents say they’ve had at least one dose.  But 18% of Republicans say they will likely never get a Covid vaccine, along with 12% of independents and 3% of Republicans.

In New Jersey, 86% of Democrats and 27% of Republicans want the state to bring back the mask mandate while 66% of Republicans oppose it.

Vaccinations also not follow racial lines: 80% of whites and 79% of people of color say they have already been vaccinated.  More whites (12%) than those of communities of color (7%) say they won’t get the vaccine.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted between August 11-16 with a sample size of 810 registered voters and a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.  The Monmouth Poll is widely viewed among New Jersey political insiders as the gold standard of state polling.

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