Home>Governor>N.J. split over Murphy’s plan to increase the number of liquor licenses, FDU poll shows

Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his State of the State address before a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on January 10, 2023. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

N.J. split over Murphy’s plan to increase the number of liquor licenses, FDU poll shows

Cassino calls governor’s proposal ‘wickedly contentious’

By David Wildstein, February 14 2023 7:00 am

New Jerseyans are sharply divided over Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposal to expand the number of liquor licenses in the state, with residents almost evenly split between BYOB, buying drinks at a restaurant, or not caring either way, according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll released today.

Just 50% of the state wants to expand the total number of liquor licenses, while 38% oppose the measure.  Among BYOBers, the proposal is tied at 44%; among those who prefer to order alcoholic beverages at restaurants, support for Murphy’s initiative jumps to 66%-27%.

“Liquor licenses may seem like too minor an issue for the Governor to include in the State of the State address,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at FDU, and the poll director. “But this is a wickedly contentious measure.”

Democrats support increasing the number of liquor licenses in the state by a 54%-36% margin, while Republicans are split, 43%-46%; independents are at 44%-35%.

Support for more liquor licenses is highest among New Jerseyans age 30 and under (59%-25%) and weakest among people over age 65: an upside-down 33%-56%.   Men largely support liquor license expansion (55%-33%), while women are split (45%-43%).   In South Jersey, 50% of people oppose the governor’s plan, while 39% support it.

“On issues that people just don’t know much about, they try to make things easier with partisanship,” stated Cassino. “ Knowing Murphy supports something is a strong signal to both Democrats and Republicans about what they should think.”

One-third of New Jerseyans (33%) prefer to bring their own bottle to a restaurant, while 32% state a preference for an eatery serving alcohol; 33% have no preference.

Those numbers shift based on party affiliation: 36% of Democrats are BYOBers, with 28% preferring restaurant service, but Republicans give purchasing their alcohol from the restaurant at 37%-31% preference over bringing their own.  Among independents, 34% are BYOBers and 27% want a restaurant to serve alcohol.   Among seniors, 42% are BYOBers; that number drops ten points among residents 30 and under.

“What’s especially tricky about this is that it isn’t a statewide problem,” Cassino explained.  “In some places, they’re no more expensive than they are anywhere else; in others, it’s a million dollars. Any change is necessarily going to hurt some people more than others.”

Cassino points out that the limits on liquor licenses have helped municipalities to limit the proliferation of chain restaurants, and just how valuable a commodity they are: he said a liquor license for a Cheesecake Factory in Short Hills recently sold for over $2 million and that a $1 million price tag for Montclair restaurants is not uncommon.

The FDU poll was conducted between February 1 and February 6 with a sample size of 808 adult New Jersey residents and a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

Spread the news: