Poll: Voters Still Say Hold the Line on Spending

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Gov. Chris Christie

STATE — New Jersey voters continue to prefer less spending to more taxes. According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™, three of five voters (60%) say the state should hold the line on spending even if many programs have to be reduced. The figure is down 10 points from early 2010 and 2009 but essentially unchanged from late March, after Gov. Chris Christie made his budget speech.  Just 22% say the state should raise taxes and continue to support state programs.

“What’s interesting here,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll, “is that this figure holds steady in the midst of so many budget cuts. Second, there is agreement on this point among many different groups of voters.”

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Democrats say “hold the line on spending” by 48%-28%.  Self-described liberals agree by 45-34. Public employee households agree by a 2-to-1 margin (50%-24%).  Even those who disapprove of Christie’s job performance tend to agree (40%-33%).  Agreeing even more strongly on holding down spending are independents and Republicans, moderates and conservatives, non-public employee households, and those who approve of Chris Christie.

New Jersey voters approve of their president and the governor by similar margins: 47% percent approve of the governor’s job performance, while 36% disapprove, a step up from May when he ran only slightly ahead on that measure, 44%-42%.  However, on strong feelings he runs even, as 23% strongly approve and 22% strongly disapprove.  Voters in public employee households disapprove of him by 54%-36%, while all other households approve by 51%-31%.  Democrats disapprove of him by a margin of 2-to-1, while independents give him thumbs up by 2-to-1, and Republicans approve by 5-to-1.

At the same time, voters approve of President Barack Obama by 49%-40%, but it is Democrats who approve of the president by 5-to1 while independents split about evenly and 4 of 5 Republicans disapprove.

“The governor and the president have more in common than people realize,” said Peter Woolley, “They are both new to their jobs, excellent speakers, very well-liked by their base, took over from unpopular incumbents, and promised great change.”

Three of five public employee households say the state is on the wrong track. But 42% of all New Jersey voters say the state is on the right track, up seven points from May, while 48% say the state is on the wrong track, down seven points from May.  By contrast, 33% say the country is headed in the right direction and 54% say it’s on the wrong track, unchanged from May.

The leaders of the state Legislature, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, frequent and outspoken critics of the governor, are largely unknown to voters: 87% have not heard of or have no opinion of Sweeney; 94% haven’t heard of or have no opinion of Oliver.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 801 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from July 27, 2010, through August 2, 2010, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.


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