Gov. Chris Christie gets better marks than the federal government for his handling the Ebola situation, with the vast majority of voters agreeing with the state’s move to quarantine a nurse from Maine, according to this morning’s Monmouth University Poll.
Most say that the actual threat Ebola poses to the Garden State is no more than a minor one, but a 1-in-4 minority fear that it may present a serious risk.
Practically every New Jersey voter has been following news about Ebola, including 88% who have heard a lot about the issue. About 1-in-4 (26%) believe that Ebola poses a major public health threat to New Jersey, while a 7-in-10 majority say it poses only a minor threat (48%) or no threat at all (21%). There are no notable demographic differences in who thinks Ebola is more or less of a public health risk.
“It’s encouraging that people in New Jersey are able to come to their own conclusions based on the most credible sources, the medical community, versus individuals who are exaggerating the risk for their own political reasons,” said Dr. George Kapalka, chair and professor of psychological counseling at Monmouth University. “I am also a practicing psychologist as well as a professor, and my patients don’t seem to be exhibiting a high degree of anxiety about this.”
Just 37% of New Jersey voters approve of the way the federal government has handled the Ebola issue while 46% disapprove. They are more positive about Gov. Christie’s response, with 53% who approve and just 27% who disapprove of the way he has handled the issue. There are some stark partisan differences. Most Democrats (56%) approve while most Republicans (69%) disapprove of the federal government’s response to Ebola. On the other hand, the vast majority of Republicans (77%) approve of how Christie has handled the response while Democrats are divided on the governor’s actions – 42% disapprove and 30% approve. Half (50%) of independents disapprove of Washington’s performance on Ebola but 59% of these same voters approve of Christie’s response.
“Gov. Christie has made a good read of how uneasy the public is with the seemingly uncertain response from the feds. The Ebola issue has offered him an opportunity to take on the mantle of leadership,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
One controversial move made by New Jersey’s governor was instituting a mandatory quarantine on travelers from West Africa who exhibit potential symptoms of Ebola. This policy was tested almost immediately last week when a nurse was detained at Newark Liberty Airport and isolated at a nearby hospital despite her claims that she was not showing any symptoms. The vast majority of New Jersey voters support this action.
Fully 67% approve of the decision to quarantine this nurse and only 19% disapprove. Republicans (84%) and independents (71%) are more likely than Democrats (49%) to agree with this move. Garden State voters are more divided on the action taken a few days later to allow the nurse to return to her home state of Maine – 38% support this subsequent move and 40% disapprove. Republicans are more likely to disapprove (56%) than approve (25%) of allowing the nurse to return home whereas more Democrats approve (45%) than disapprove (29%). Independents are split between those who approve (42%) of releasing the nurse from her New Jersey quarantine and those who disapprove (39%).
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from October 30 to November 2, 2014 with 802 likely voters in New Jersey. This sample has a margin of error of + 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.