The majority of New Jersey voters want to see Democrats remain in control of the Legislature, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today.
Just over half of those surveyed said they want Democrats to continue to balance the power in Trenton, versus 38 percent who said they hope the GOP takes control of the Legislature.
Democrats fared better in the most recent poll than in April, when their margin stood at nine points. The party held a 17-point margin in February.
“When thinking about the Legislature versus the governor, voters prefer that Democrats remain able to balance Gov. Christie,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “But when asked simply to consider their actual vote in Assembly and Senate races, they are somewhat less supportive of Democrats.”
Not surprisingly, 80 percent of partisan respondents want their party in control come November, but independents are increasingly divided.
While 41 percent of independents polled said they favor Republican control, 43 percent say they want Democrats to remain in power. In February, independents favored Democrats by a 48 to 38 margin.
“Support for Democratic control has bounced around for the last six months, while Republican support has remained nearly constant,” said Redlawsk. “The uncertainty can be attributed to independent voters who supported Democratic control by 10 points in February, but who now only favor Democrats by 2 points. If Democratic candidates have trouble holding on to independents, more seats might be in play than expected.”
Christie remains a polarizing force in state politics, but according to the poll, negative attitudes toward him tend to drive voters more than positive views.
While 55 percent of voters holding a favorable opinion of Christie say they will vote or lean Republican in the Assembly vote this fall, 65 percent of those who dislike the governor plan to vote or lean Democrat. The poll showed similar margins in the Senate.
And while voters say they want Democrats to act as a check on Christie, they also say the Legislature and chief executive should work better together. Sixty percent say Democrats should work with the governor rather than resist him, while 30 percent say Democrats should focus on thwarting the governor and his policies.
The results are from a poll of 615 registered voters conducted among both landline and cell phone households from Aug. 9 – 15, with a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.