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Are You Happy With NJ’s Recovery from Sandy So Far? [POLL/AUDIO]

New Jerseyans are pretty positive about the pace of recovery after the wallop delivered by Superstorm Sandy according to a new Monmouth University-Asbury Press Poll.   

Machine that will drive piles into sand as part of Seaside Heights boardwalk rebuilf
Machine that will drive piles into sand as part of Seaside Heights boardwalk rebuild (Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media)

The poll also revealed that most New Jerseyans are at least somewhat confident that Sandy relief money will be spent wisely, and few have an opinion of the AshBritt contract to coordinate the clean-up effort.

More than three-in-four (77 percent) of New Jersey families report they either have fully recovered or were not impacted by Sandy. In the hardest hit areas of the state, 57 percent of residents say they are fully recovered.

Just over 4-in-10 Garden State residents (43 percent) say they will do more to prepare for the next storm. In the hardest hit areas, 52 percent now say they will do more to prepare for the next storm.

Overall, 7-in-10 New Jerseyans say they are very (26 percent) or somewhat (45 percent) satisfied with the state’s recovery effort so far. Only 22% are dissatisfied. Among those in the state’s hardest hit areas, 3-in-4 are content with the effort – 27 percent very satisfied and 48 percent somewhat satisfied.

Garden State residents are generally, but not overwhelmingly, confident that federal relief funds will be spent wisely on the recovery effort, with 13 percent saying they are very confident and 51 percent somewhat confident. 32 percent are not very or not at all confident that these funds will be spent wisely.

“New Jersey residents are cautiously optimistic about the long road to recovery,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “It appears they are waiting for more progress to be made before they are willing to express a high level of confidence in the effort.”

AshBritt Contract

There has been a lot of debate over the state’s awarding of a contract to Florida-based AshBritt, to coordinate much of New Jersey’s clean-up. Most Garden State residents have either not heard of the contract (68 percent) or have no opinion of it (18 percent). Only a small group has an opinion and they are divided – 7 percent approve of the contract and 7 percent disapprove.

Very few Jerseyans (14 percent) say it is at least somewhat likely that Gov. Chris Christie awarded this contract as the result of political favors compared to 12 percent who say this is not likely to have been the case. Just 27 percent of New Jerseyans say they would hold it against Christie that some of the members of Congress he campaigned for last year actually voted against the federal aid package and another 63 percent say they would not hold it against him.

Jersey Shore Recovery

One-in-five (21 percent) of Garden State residents think it is very likely that the Jersey Shore will be fully open for business this summer and 44 percent say this is somewhat likely. Another 28 percent say it is not likely to happen this year, but most believe that the Jersey Shore will be fully operational either this year or within the next two years (65 percent). Another 27 percent think it could take up to five years, 2 percent say it could take longer, and 2 percent think shore businesses will never fully recover.

Regardless of whether they think beach towns will be fully operational, Garden State residents say they are heading down the shore this summer, maybe in record numbers. 71 percent plan to visit New Jersey’s beaches this summer, including 28 percent who plan to stay a week or more and 43 percent who will make shorter trips.

The 71 percent who will head down the shore this year is higher than the 65 percent who said they planned to head down the shore before the 2011 summer season and is similar to the 69 percent who planned a shore visit in the post-recession semi-boom of 2010. In past years, between about 60 percent of state residents said they planned to visit the Jersey Shore.

One debate surrounding recovery funding received by shore communities is whether beach access should be made free. Currently, 35 percent of New Jersey residents say beach-goers should have to pay a fee to use the state’s beaches and 60 percent say they should not.

“In every way, New Jerseyans want to see their shore get back to business as usual,” explained Murray. “Beach fees are still unpopular, but no more or less than they were before Sandy.”

Poll Facts

The survey was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from February 6 to 10, 2013. This sample has a margin of error of + 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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