NJ Voters Underestimate State’s Open Space

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STATE—Only 1 in 5 (18%) New Jersey voters correctly indicate that nearly half (45%), or 2.25 million acres, of New Jersey is open space, according to a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) estimate that 30% or less of New Jersey is undeveloped, far below the actual amount.  An additional 13% do not venture a guess, even when provided with a range of responses.  Those in the urban core and the northeast parts of the state are just as likely as those in the southern and the rural northwestern regions to underestimate the amount of open space.


“Clearly, New Jerseyans spend too much time on the turnpike,” said Peter Woolley, the poll director.  “New Jersey is a beautiful place beyond the sound barriers and the congestion.”

Overall, only 3 of 5 (60%) correctly indicate the state’s nickname—the Garden State—is related to farming.  While this figure is statistically equal to those from the last two years, it is down from a high of 71% in 2006.  Results vary widely across demographic groups.  Nearly two-thirds (65%) of those over the age of 60 know about the moniker, compared to just 50% of voters under age 30.  In the relatively rural southern portion of the state, 72% of voters correctly associate the nickname with farming, compared to only 49% of respondents in the urban core of the state, 51% in the northeast and 61% in the central part of the state.

Nearly 3 in 4 (72%) have “a lot” of confidence in the safety of the Garden State’s locally grown produce.  Those in the southern portion of the state have significantly more confidence (83%) than those in the urban (61%), northeastern (66%) or central (71%) part of the state. Voters aged 60+ have more confidence (76%) than those in the 18-29 age group (54%).

When it comes to the hot topic of global warming, 7 in 10 (70%) voters say it is a “somewhat” or “very” serious problem.  Women are more likely than men (75%-64%) to believe it is a problem. But most striking, Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1 (88%- 45%) in their belief that it is a “somewhat” or “very” serious problem.

However, despite the large number who say global warming is serious, few are willing to spending money fixing it. Only 3% would pay “significantly more” in their energy bills to help the environment by reducing the emissions that contribute to global warming.  One in five (20%) say they would pay “somewhat more” and an additional 32% would be willing to pay “just a little more.” Two in five (40%) say they are unwilling to pay any more at all to help reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming.

Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats (54%-29%) to say they are not willing to pay any more to ameliorate the problem.

“Congress would be well-advised to heed this public concern about raising the costs of energy products in addressing climate change,” said Farm Bureau President Richard Nieuwenhuis. “It seems that recognizing the issue is one thing, but the costs of the remedies also should be considered when devising legislation.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll was sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau and conducted by telephone from Oct. 22 through Oct. 28 using a randomly selected sample of 908 registered voters statewide aged 18 and over.  The margin of error for 908 adults is +/- 3.3 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

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