A new poll finds most New Jerseyans feel good about the towns where they live, but a significant number think the State isn't terrific.

In the Monmouth University poll, 59 percent of those surveyed rate Jersey as an excellent (15 percent) or good (44 percent) place to live, while 28 percent rate it as only fair, and 13 percent give New Jersey a poor rating.

“That’s similar to past ratings, but it’s only the third time that this question has been asked in polls going back to 1980 that the number (of excellent or good ratings) has come in under 60 percent,” Patrick Murray, director of the school's polling institute, said.

Murray pointed out overall, people give high marks to the quality of life in the Garden state because they like their own towns.

“More than three in four rate their own city as excellent or a good place to live. Thirty-seven percent say excellent (and) 40 percent say good. This 77 percent positive rating is a high for this question going all the way back to 1977,” he said.

Seventy-one percent say they feel very safe in their neighborhoods at night — a record high for the poll.

The poll also finds 65 percent of New Jerseyans give their local schools positive ratings— 26 percent say their schools are excellent, and 39 percent say they're good.

“There’s not a lot of optimism about the state as a whole, but people are staying rooting in their own community, and I think that’s what’s keeping people in New Jersey,” said Murray.

So why aren’t people more positive about the New Jersey?

“The issue with the state rating is tied almost equally to the economics of the state and to the quality of government, so this has a lot to do with what’s going on in Trenton,” Murray said. “The governor certainly himself is dragging the overall state rating down because people don’t feel positive about the state if they don’t feel positive about the governor.”

The Polling Institute’s Garden State Quality of Life Index score is now at a +25, up from +18 in 2015. In 2012 the Index score was +30.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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