fdu_public_mind_pollMADISON, NJ - As millions flock to New Jersey’s shoreline this summer, the TV reality show Jersey Shore might get some of the credit. According to a national telephone poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™, 41% of Americans have a favorable view of New Jersey, while 18% say they have an unfavorable view. Another 40% have mixed views or are unsure.  

People in the northeastern United States are more likely than people in other regions of the country to have a favorable view of New Jersey. They are also more likely than people in other regions to have an unfavorable view of NJ. 48% of folks in the Northeast have a favorable view of the Garden State, compared to just 37% of people in the Midwest. Similarly, 27% of people in the Northeast say they have an unfavorable view of New Jersey, compared to just 17% in the Midwest.

“Familiarity breeds both appreciation and criticism,” said Peter Woolley, director of the poll. “New Jersey’s neighbors are more likely than others to know both the attractive and unattractive parts of the state.”

More important for critics and fans of the MTV series, there is no statistical difference between the favorable views of those who have seen Jersey Shore and those who have not: 43% of those who have seen the show have a favorable opinion of the state; 41% of those who haven’t seen the show have a favorable opinion of the state.

“These measures alone suggest the show isn’t hurting the nation’s view of the state. In fact, it may be promoting one of the state’s best features--not Snooki, but the shore itself.”

People who are first reminded about the Jersey Shore show (simply by asking whether they have seen it) and have in fact seen it, actually have far more favorable views of New Jersey than those who either have not seen the show, or have seen it but were not asked about it first: Of those who have seen the show and were reminded of it, 49% reported they have a favorable view of the state. “In other words, if you’ve seen the show, and you are reminded of the show, you are more disposed to say you have a favorable view of our state,” said Woolley. “It seems to me viewers are looking past The Situation to the shore scene itself.”

Researchers experimented by asking half of their respondents whether they had seen the show before asking whether they had a favorable view of New Jersey, and half the respondents whether they had seen the TV show or not after they asked whether they had a favorable view of New Jersey.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 711 adults nationwide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from March 21, 2011 through March 27, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.