Home>Highlight>Monmouth poll: New Jerseyans skeptical of state, federal government – but prefer Trenton to Washington

The New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. (Photo: Joey Fox for the New Jersey Globe).

Monmouth poll: New Jerseyans skeptical of state, federal government – but prefer Trenton to Washington

Democrats more likely than Republicans to view either government positively

By Joey Fox, January 18 2023 11:00 am

New Jerseyans give their state government higher marks than the federal government but aren’t hugely satisfied with either, according to a new Monmouth University Poll released today.

36% of New Jersey adults rated the quality of state government positively (calling it either excellent or good), versus 19% who said the same about the federal government. Even that may be overstating their optimism, since just 4% called the quality of state government excellent, and an even smaller 2% said so about the federal government.

41% said the quality of state government is “only fair” and 22% said it’s poor; for the federal government, those numbers are 36% and 43%, respectively.

“A pox on both your houses, say New Jerseyans,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said in a statement accompanying the poll. “It may never be possible to get a majority of the public to view government in a positive light in this day and age. But it may be some comfort to Trenton officials that at least some New Jerseyans think they are doing a better job than the folks in Washington.”

Democrats were more likely than Republicans to view both governments favorably – perhaps because Democratic politicians are in complete control of Trenton and mostly in control of Washington. 63% of Democrats rated the quality of state government as excellent or good, compared to 14% of Republicans. For the federal government, 31% of Democrats gave positive marks versus just 7% of Republicans.

“Partisanship fractures how we view government nowadays,” Murray said. “You’ve got to stick with your team and boo the other guys no matter what.”

Overall, 29% of respondents said the state government is run better than the federal government, 9% said the federal government is run better, and 57% said it’s about the same. 

The poll also found that New Jerseyans’ belief in politics as a force for good may be fading. 44% said that getting involved in politics and government was an “honorable thing to do,” tied with the 44% who said it was a “dirty business”; for comparison, that ratio was 50%-40% in August 2009 and 55%-32% in September 2008, evidently the most recent times Monmouth asked that exact question.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from January 5-9 with a sample of 809 New Jersey adults and a margin of error of +/- 4.7%.

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