Click play for audio version of this story
The stakes must be high in the race for the Jersey City Board of Education, where a poll was in the field last night asking questions about local issues and Mayor Steve Fulop’s right hand man on the city’s school board.
Survey questions were captured by a New Jersey Globe source who took contemporaneous notes of the interview. The Globe has learned that the poll is bring conducted by Braun Research, a Princeton-based market research and data collection company that polls for Fox News.
The identity of who paid for the poll remains unclear. Paul Braun of Braun Research did not immediately return a 9:34 AM call seeking comment.
The poll specifically tests Fulop ally Sudhan Thomas, the embattled former chairman of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program (JCETP), who is seeking re-election to his school board seat in the fall.
The Globe reported last week that thousands of dollars in checks made out to cash from a JCETP account appear to have been both signed and endorsed by Thomas.
The poll asks whether criticisms leveled at Thomas rate as no concern, some concern or a major concern, and specifically asked about corruption and personal use (of funds), that Thomas has been sued nine times, a donation he made to the Republican National Committee, whether voters thought he was a ‘deadbeat dad,” and about his ethics.
Respondents were also asked whether they thought development over the past ten years was good or bad for Jersey City. The poll asked to rate feelings about developers from very negative to very positive.
Most of the questions centered around Jersey City educational issues: are public schools on the right track or the wrong direction? How do respondents view the Jersey City Education Association, the city’s teacher union – from negative to very positive? How to people view the Board of Education – from poor to excellent.
The poll asks respondents to identify two issues where the school board should focus on, giving choices of improved safety, after-school care, reduced class sizes, repairing and rebuilding schools, stabilization of the budget, and test scores.
A $209 million budget shortfall five years is also tested in the poll to see how much people in Jersey City know about it. The poll asks respondents to pick the top two causes of the deficit: fiscal mismanagement, insufficient funding from the state, too many tax breaks to developers, or waste and fraud.
Residents are asked if the school board can handle these issues, or if they think it’s time for a change. The poll asks if concerns with the Board of Education stem from corruption or ethics, an attempt to hide the financial crisis, or if the board is just incompetent. Also asked if whether these criticisms of the school board raise no major concern some concern, or no concern at all: failure to remediate lead-contaminated water, teacher layoffs, cuts in after-school programs, and unrealistic fiscal gimmicks to hide the budget shortfall.
The survey also asks how criticisms of current school board members are viewed, rating several areas as a major concern, some concern, or no real concern: the teacher’s union; school tax increases of more than 20% over the last three years to $26,000 above the state average; and candidates who are supported by real estate developers.
Respondents are asked whether it’s more important for children to receive the best quality education, or to create a spending plan and stabilize the budget.
Also asked was a question about short-term Airbnb rentals and the importance of a referendum that the city council voted down last month.
An August poll conducted by Braun Research for Fox News attracted the wrath of President Donald Trump after it showed Trump losing head-to-head contests against Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
“My worst polls have always been from Fox,” Trump said after the August survey results were released. “There’s something going on at Fox. I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it.”