N.J. Voters Oppose Takeover of Atlantic City Tourism District


According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, New Jersey voters disapprove of the state’s takeover of Atlantic City’s tourism district: 29% favor the state directly administering parts of Atlantic City, but 43% say they oppose it. Another 27% are unsure or have mixed views. Voters in the state’s six southern-most counties are more likely to favor the action than voters in other regions, but even in those southern counties voters split: 37% in favor and 40% against it.

“The state has taken over local functions before,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll, “with little or nothing to show for it.  Moreover, many voters want to curb state government spending, not expand its functions. They’re simply not confident the state can run things well.”

fdu_public_mind_pollMADISON, NJ - In addition, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to oppose the takeover: Republicans oppose the move by a margin of 48%-29% while Democrats oppose it 39%-30%.  Independents go against it by 41%-25%.  Liberals oppose it 41%-30% and conservatives by 49%-27%.  In fact, those who approve of the job the governor is doing oppose the takeover by 43%-34% (though those who disapprove of the governor’s performance oppose the Atlantic City takeover by an even larger margin of 51%-20%).

“This issue has strange cross-currents,” said Woolley. “On the one hand many voters oppose more and bigger state government. On the other hand, they want Atlantic City to do what it’s supposed to do: draw investment, jobs, and tourists.”

Despite the state intervention in Atlantic City, the governor’s approval rating remains strong: 51% of New Jersey voters approve of the way Chris Christie is handling his job, while 39% disapprove, little different from PublicMind’s January measurement of 53%-36%. Indeed, approval of the governor runs strongly enough that even those who oppose the Atlantic City takeover approve of the governor by 52%-41%.

Three of five voters (62%) continue to say the state should hold the line on spending even if many programs are reduced, while just one in five (21%) say the state should raise taxes if necessary to support state programs. Among those who say “hold the line,” Christie’s approval rate is 65%-27%.  Among those who say the state needs to raise taxes to support its programs, Christie’s approval runs well behind, 22%-69%.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s Garden State support also remains strong: 54% approve of the president’s performance, while 36% disapprove, his best showing in a year. Voters are more optimistic about the direction of the country: 39% say the country is on the right track, up from 35% a month ago, while 49% say the country is on the wrong track, down from 52% a month ago.

But the president’s senatorial ally, Bob Menendez, has not moved the needle: Half of all voters (49%) say they haven’t heard of him or have no opinion of him, and more than half of Democrats (53%) say the same.  By contrast 52% of Democrats have a favorable opinion of the senior senator, Frank Lautenberg.

New Jersey’s other statewide elected official, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, hardly registers: 77% say they haven’t heard of her, and another 11% say they have no opinion of her.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 801 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from Feb. 7, 2011, through Feb. 13, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.

Methodology, questions, and tables on the web at: http://publicmind.fdu.edu