Eighty-eight percent of New Jersey voters say government corruption here is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem. By a 38 – 24% margin, voters associate the Democratic Party more than the Republican Party with corruption, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
But Republicans aren't the answer, the poll results say.
Voters say 54 – 35% that they are not more likely to vote for Republican candidates for the State Legislature after 10 Democratic officials were indicted on corruption charges earlier this month.
Members of the two parties naturally read the results differently.
"In light of recent headlines, it's not unexpected," said Democratic State Party Chairman Assemblyman Joseph Cryan. "But when people see we've taken substantial steps towards reducing corruption it will trend back."
District 40 GOP Assemblyman Kevin O'Toole said the 14% differential in the voters' association of corruption with Democrats as opposed to Republicans is the significant figure in the poll.
"When you go into the field and you get results like that, you have to understand there are more Democrats being polled because there are more Democrats statewide," said O'Toole. "Voters are generically saying it's Democrats they associate with corruption, the party that has been in power for the last six years."
By a 36 – 21% margin, with 43% undecided, New Jersey voters say they are more likely to vote for a challenger than an incumbent in this November’s state legislative elections. But voters say 48 – 38% that that they would rather see the Democratic party control the State Legislature after the elections.
"Nine out of 10 New Jersey voters say government corruption is a serious problem in the state. While this poll shows that the issue probably will not be decisive in this year’s legislative elections, it could cause problems for incumbents in close races," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Even though nearly all the politicians involved in the latest series of indictments were Democrats, voters say that does not make them more likely to vote for Republicans this fall. By 10 points they say they would rather see Democrats control the legislature – a figure that partly reflects the party’s voter registration edge in the Garden State.
"The Republican Party doesn't stand for anything," said Cryan. "When all you do is complain, it perpetuates disillusion."
But O'Toole said Republicans have driven reform in recent years.
"You've got to look at each individual candidate and where they stand on issues like corruption and dual-office holding," said the Assemblyman.
In other results from the poll, New Jersey voters say they approve 49 – 40% of the job Gov. Jon Corzine is doing, compared to 48 – 39% in a July 9 Quinnipiac University poll. In this latest survey, Republicans disapprove of the Governor 59 – 33%, while Democrats approve 63 – 23% and independent voters approve 48 – 42%.
Voters oppose 58 – 29% selling or leasing the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway and using the money to reduce the state’s debt and possibly provide tax relief.
By a similar 57 – 32% margin, voters oppose raising Turnpike or Parkway tolls and using the toll money to help balance the state budget.
From September 18 – 23, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,230 New Jersey voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and nationally as a public service and for research.