NJ Residents Give State, Power Companies High Marks For Storm Response

STATE – More than three-quarters of New Jersey registered voters (77 percent) were pleased with the state government’s response to Superstorm Sandy, with 28 percent saying the state’s response was “excellent” and 49 percent saying it was “good,” according to the results of a new poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.

Eight-in-ten (83 percent) voters say “Government officials acted swiftly and decisively to help residents who were affected,” compared to just five percent who say “Government officials were more of an obstacle than a help to residents who were affected.”

“It remains early in the recovery effort, and many have a long way to go to find their way back to normal, but I think you can interpret these numbers as a vote of support for state workers and officials,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

As for the role that government should or shouldn’t play in helping people to rebuild after Sandy-like events, a clear majority say Washington needs to fund reconstruction and worry about how to pay for it later. Sixty-seven percent say it is all right to build now and worry later about how to pay, as compared with a fifth (21 percent) who believe the federal government shouldn’t spend money it doesn’t have, even if there is a natural disaster.

Turning to what respondents have to say about the widespread power outages in the state, 73 percent report a loss of power as a result of the storm, and of these, 61 percent were off the grid for five or more days. These people managed their outage a variety of ways, with more than half (52 percent) remaining in their home without the assistance of a generator, and another quarter who stayed put with the help of a generator (25 percent). The remainder went to a family or friend’s house (19 percent) or did something else (5 percent).

Despite the lengthy outages, respondents offer understanding appraisals of the power companies. Nearly three-quarters (69 percent) say their power company did the best they could, while a quarter (26 percent) said their company could have done better, despite the difficulties that accompany widespread outages.

“Not surprisingly, those with lengthier outages are less understanding,” said Jenkins, “but given the concerns raised over how long it took to get everyone back on the grid, these numbers should be welcome news to the power companies.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University panel survey of 241 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from Oct. 26 through Oct. 29 and Nov. 13 through Nov. 18 and has a margin of error of +/-6.3 percentage points.

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