Voters set to approve stem cell research bonds

New Jersey voters are likely to pass a $450 million bond issue to finance stem cell research – by a 57%-36% margin — according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today. Catholic voters support the referendum 48%-41%, while voters identified as evangelical or born-again Christians support it by a 48%-42% margin. Of the likely voters who oppose the referendum, 26% say they disagree with stem cell research on moral grounds, while 58% say the state can’t afford the added debt.

“The margin favoring approval of the stem cell research bond issue is typical for recent ballot questions about state uses of public funds, despite public controversy surrounding this type of research,” said Tim Vercellotti, director of polling at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. “That some of the key constituencies expected to oppose the ballot question, such as evangelical Christians and Republican voters, are narrowly in favor or divided speaks to the strength of public support for the bond issue.”

The poll also gives Gov. Jon Corzine a 48%-42% approval rating.

Voters don’t seem to care if Corzine campaigns for Democratic candidates or not – 60% say that his support of a candidate makes no difference to them – about the same as Gov. James E. McGreevey in an October 2003 Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

In a statewide ballot test of little significance because about three-quarters of the districts do not have competitive races, Democrats lead Republicans by a ten to twelve percentage points. The Legislature has a statewide upside-down approval rating of 34%-48%, although voters approve of their own legislators by a 55%-30% margin.

By a 59%-34% margin, voters also back a referendum to spend $200 million in bonds to buy land for recreation and conservation purposes, to preserve farmland, and to pay for historic preservation projects.

Voters set to approve stem cell research bonds