Tag Archive: Rutgers-Eagleton

A nice lesson on poll accuracy

Rutgers-Eagleton has released an independent study of why their 2013 polls did so poorly. Basically, they correctly forecast that Christie and Booker would win by a lot but overestimated the margins by a huge amount. They had Christie at +36 but he “only” won by 22; Booker was at +22 and won by 10. I would have wrote it off to the problems of forecasting low-turnout elections, but I would have been wrong:

The Langer report identifies the primary reason for the inaccurate results as the failure to put the “head-to-head” questions, which asked respondents for their vote intention, at or near the beginning of the questionnaire. Because these questions were asked after a series of other questions, it appears that respondents were “primed” to think positively about Governor Chris Christie in the November survey, which then may have led Democrats and independents in particular to over-report their likelihood of voting for the Governor. A similar process occurred with the October Senate poll, where voters were first reminded of how little they knew about Lonegan and how much they liked Booker before being asked the vote question.

As the post makes clear, this was not done for a nefarious purpose but simply to continue a series of questions polled over the years. Ideally there would have been separate “horse race” and issue polls. It’s a good lesson in how difficult it is to poll fairly but a perfect example of public accountability. It’s too bad Rutgers-Eagleton doesn’t have a large budget because I view their polls as a important public service.  

Who would’ve thunk it?

Judging by they way that New Jersey is portrayed on popular TV shows The Sopranos, Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey, you would think that the state is filled with stereotypical arrogant, obnoxious, thick headed loudmouths with entitlement issues.  Even more so given that our current Governor fits that very description himself – all while being hailed as the latest savior of the Republican Party – and it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that this is a match made in heaven (or hell, depending on your view of Christie, New Jerseyans at large and the stereotypes on the above shows).

Not so fast:


As out-of-state Republicans urge Gov. Chris Christie to seek the party’s presidential nomination next year, a majority of New Jerseyans questioned in a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll made public on Friday say they would not vote to re-elect him as governor in 2013.

Forty-nine percent said they would support another candidate while 42 percent said they would vote for Christie.

(Lest anyone think Corzine was in a similar boat, or “all Governors are like this”, it wasn’t until his final year in office where his ratings turned upside down.)

Maybe it is time to rethink the generalization about real New Jerseyans liking the stereotypical New Jerseyan….

Poll: Voters Support Stem Cell Bond Referendum

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds that by a 56%-37% margin, likely voters would support a $450 million bond referendum question to fund stem cell research. Catholics support the measure by 48%-41% and evangelicals and born-again Christians do so by a similar 48%-42% margin. The breakdown is 62%-22% for Democrats, 57%-32% for independents, and Republicans are split 45%-46%.

But even among those who disagree, only a small minority do so on moral grounds. Of those opposing the referendum, 58% say the state can’t afford to borrow the money while 26% say it’s for moral reasons. Tim Vercellotti, director of polling at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, says “the margin favoring approval of the stem cell research bond issue is typical for recent ballot questions about state uses of public funds, despite public controversy surrounding this type of research. That some of the key constituencies expected to oppose the ballot question, such as evangelical Christians and Republican voters, are narrowly in favor or divided speaks to the strength of public support for the bond issue.”

By a much larger 70%-21% margin, voters support the ballot question which would dedicate the entire penny increase in the sales tax towards property tax relief.

The poll shows a steep drop in Governor Corzine’s approval rating from 57% in August to 47% today. Two thirds of voters now think there is a lot of public corruption in the state, up from 47% in August, 2004.

And while approval of the Democratic-led legislature has dropped from 37% in 2004 to 30% today, Democrats may not suffer much at the polls. By 10 points, likely voters prefer Democrats to Republicans for the Assembly (42%-32%) and Senate (44%-34%). In both cases, the split is similar to the results from 2003 (41%-32% for Assembly, 43%-33% for Senate).

Among likely voters, 28% said reducing property taxes was the top issue the next governor should address. Overtaking corruption as the #2 issue in 2005, 21% said reducing the budget crisis should be the top priority, while corruption registered a close third at 19%.