Democrats, Republicans … NJ voters think they both suck, FDU poll finds
The news is not good for the Republican Party in the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll: New Jersey voters find a cold shower on a cold winter day more appealing than the GOP.
However, the news might actually be worse for the Democratic Party. While it generates warmer feelings than a cold shower, a majority of voters agree the party’s policies are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being.
“New Jersey voters aren’t very happy with either political party right now,” said FDU political scientist Dan Cassino, an analyst for the poll.
Thirty-two percent of New Jersey voters see the Republican Party favorably, while 62 percent do not. Forty-eight percent have a favorable view of the Democratic Party, compared with 46 percent who do not. Independents don’t like either, though see Democrats a bit more unfavorably.
“The big difference comes in the way partisans view their own party,” Cassino said. “Only 70 percent of Republicans say they have a favorable view of their own party, while 85 percent of Democrats do.
“The big problem for Republicans is that Donald Trump is a pretty polarizing figure in New Jersey,” Cassino said. “New Jersey Republicans have traditionally been relatively conservative Republicans, and Donald Trump isn’t anyone’s idea of a traditional conservative. And that seems to have soured a lot of New Jersey Republicans on him and on the party in general.”
FDU asked voters to choose, if they had to, between a cold shower on a cold winter day and both political parties. Forty-eight percent found the cold shower more appealing, compared with 44 percent who preferred the Republican Party. The Democratic Party held a 49 percent to 43 percent edge over hydrotherapy.
“So Republican Party versus cold shower in New Jersey, a cold shower wins,” Cassino said. “And given how cold things have been, that’s saying a lot.”
The poll then throws cold water on any giddiness Democrats may be feeling.
Fifty-three percent of voters agreed they would say “the Democratic Party’s policies are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being,” while 46 percent wouldn’t go that far. Asked the same of the Republicans, 47 percent agreed and 52 percent wouldn’t go that far.
“This really spells trouble for the Democratic Party in New Jersey going forward. While there’s more Democrats than Republicans in New Jersey, there’s not enough of either party to really put you over the top,” Cassino said.
Partisans generally see themselves and the other party in similar proportions. The difference comes among independents, estimated by FDU as 20 percent of the New Jersey electorate. Forty-three percent said Democratic policies form a threat, compared with 24 percent who said the same of Republicans..
“If independent voters are so disillusioned at the Democratic Party that they think it represents a threat, that could be a real problem for Democratic candidates in the state,” Cassino said.
Those feelings about the parties could have a lot of impact next year’s governor’s race, Cassino said.
“In New Jersey we have a very strong party system. That is, individual candidates don’t matter nearly as much as the parties they’re from, and that’s mostly a relic of the strong party machine system that we still have in place in a lot of places in New Jersey,” Cassino said.
“The fact that voters are upset at the parties, disillusioned with the parties, I think in New Jersey is partially a consequence of the fact that the parties aren’t doing so much and making sort of these backroom deals that we see so often in Trenton,” he said.
The poll results are just the latest in a wave of indications that voters are angry and disillusioned – following a 250 percent increase in third-party voter registrations in the last eight months and a fivefold increase in write-in votes in the presidential race.
“Voters are not happy with the way parties in New Jersey are working, and any candidate who doesn’t address the party system is going to have some trouble going forward,” Cassino said.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll was conducted by Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 among a random sample of 836 registered voters in New Jersey, including 444 reached on landline phones and 392 reached on cell phones. A sample that size has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.