New Jersey has a well deserved reputation as one of the most diverse states in the nation, but a new poll finds a sizable number of Garden State residents are not directly affected by diversity where they live.

Ashley Koning, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, said many residents do not experience diversity within their own neighborhoods.

“About half say they share the same social class as their neighbors. When it comes to race and ethnicity, 4 in 10 New Jerseyans say all or most of their neighbors share a similar background while about a quarter each say only half or some do," she said.

About 8% of poll respondents said none of their neighbors share a similar racial or ethnic background.

Koning said the just-released survey, done in partnership with Fairleigh Dickinson University, also finds “59% believe it’s important that people of different races and ethnicities live, go to school and work closely with each other, another 40% on the other hand believe this is not important though, as long as everyone is treated fairly.”

She said one takeaway from the poll is “even though we consider New Jersey such a melting pot, there really is a lot of isolation and segregation, whether intended or not.”

She noted when it comes to low and moderate income housing, “more than two thirds of residents, about 68%, approve of the idea that municipalities should be required to actively promote the construction of it, but we do see differences in demographics in terms of who supports it and who doesn’t, by key factors such as partisanship, race, ethnicity and social class.”

The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings requiring low and moderate income housing be provided in municipalities.

The poll also finds 37% of New Jerseyans believe there is either a lot or some racial and ethnic tension among residents in their community, while 40% think there is just a little tension in their own neighborhood, and 22% said there is none.

The combined Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University poll contacted 1,250 adults in New Jersey between March 7 and 22. The combined sample has a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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