Rutgers poll: Two-thirds believe post-Sandy N.J. not back to normal

NEW BRUNSWICK – Stronger than the storm? Maybe.  Back to normal? No.

A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll issued Thursday says that more than a year after Superstorm Sandy, two-thirds of voters believe that the state is not yet back to normal.

Seventy-eight percent in an April poll said life was not back to normal.

Just 12 percent of respondents who think things are not normal are optimistic pre-Sandy conditions will return within another year, according to the new poll.

Sixty-one percent expect a return to normalcy might take up to five years, and 13 percent think it will take up to a decade.

Three percent see recovery taking more than a decade, and 6 percent say pre-Sandy normalcy will never return. Another six percent are uncertain.

 “While slightly more Garden Staters think we are back, many are no more optimistic about the length of recovery than they were back in April,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University.

“At that time, 78 percent saw a return to normalcy taking as long as five years. That number has declined only five points. Clearly, New Jerseyans continue to see a long haul ahead.”

The findings reflect sentiments expressed this year in legislative hearings in which many people testified about still being out of their homes.

Most respondents give low to mediocre ratings to progress of the recovery.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning “not at all recovered” and 10 meaning “fully recovered,” voters score the state’s overall recovery at 6.1.

Asked about specifics, ratings are lower. Recovery of the Shore region is rated at 4.7, while voters score recovery for homeowners with sustained damage, at 4.8. Assessments of tourism (5.7) and business (5.9) are somewhat more favorable.

“Since summer, we have seen the Seaside Park boardwalk fire and an increase in media attention to those who have not yet recovered from the storm,” said Redlawsk. “Moreover, there were reports of disappointing summer tourism. It is not surprising people feel less positive about the recovery.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 804 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Oct. 28 to Nov 2.

Rutgers poll: Two-thirds believe post-Sandy N.J. not back to normal