New Jersey has its share of problems. High taxes, the public employee pension fund, crumbling roads and bridges…to name just a few. As New Jersey nears the end of the Christie years, who do the people trust to fix them? Republicans or Democrats? A new survey of registered voters in New Jersey from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds that the answer is a resounding “neither.”
When asked which of the two major parties people trust to fix the problems facing the state, 22 percent say they favor Republicans, with 27 percent who point to the Democratic party. By far, however, the biggest vote getter is neither party, with 47%. Almost half of those surveyed have little, if any, faith in either political party to provide workable solutions to the state’s troubled finances and the myriad of other problems that continue to vex policymakers.
Predictably, Democrats and Republicans break for their own parties, with 62 percent of both groups putting their faith with leaders from the same party. However, a full third of each group reject their own parties and believe neither party offers much in the way of leadership. The all-important independents, or those who do not reflexively identify with either party (and who comprise a third of the electorate) look upon each party with about the same degree of disfavor. Fourteen percent of independents look to Republicans, 13 percent trust Democrats, with two-thirds (67%) who believe both parties are useless.
“Leadership is clearly up for grabs in the Garden State. People want solutions and these numbers suggest neither party can be trusted with leading the state to brighter days,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind.
If the parties can’t be trusted, is anyone poised to personify trusted leadership in the state? A spate of names have been floated as possible 2017 gubernatorial contenders to replace Chris Christie. At this early stage, the name of the game is simple recognition, and the most widely known personality is State Senate President Steve Sweeney (LD 3). Forty-five percent have heard of Senator Sweeney with about equal numbers who view him favorably (17%) as unfavorably (16%). Behind him is current Lieutenant Governor Republican Kim Guadagno, with 31 percent name recognition (11 percent favorable; 10% unfavorable).
Democrats other than Sweeney are known by significantly fewer across the state. State Senator Raymond Lesniak (LD 20) is known by 28 percent of residents, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is recognized by 18 percent, and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy is known to 11 percent.
On the Republican side, in addition to Lieutenant Governor Guadagno, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (LD 21) is familiar to 11 percent.
“As PublicMind reported last week, record numbers of residents believe the state is headed down the wrong track. Not only are people pessimistic about New Jersey’s future, they also doubt the parties can do anything about it,” said Jenkins.
Methodology – The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey was conducted by landline and cellular telephone November 9 -15, 2015 among a random statewide sample of 830 self-identified registered voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.9 points, including the design effect.