⚫ A new poll has created a map of where Central Jersey begins and ends, based on residents' responses

⚫ Responses differ from the typical Central Jersey definition

⚫ South Jersey feels shorted in terms of state resources

In case you didn't know, the debate over whether "Central Jersey" exists has already been settled — Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law in August 2023 that officially creates a Central Jersey tourism region that'll get its own share of marketing.

The more timely question is, where does Central Jersey begin and end?

The Monmouth University Polling Institute asked hundreds of adults in February and March, in order to get an answer.

Opinions from New Jersey residents differ a bit from the regional definitions that Monmouth Poll has been using to analyze poll results.

According to responses from New Jersey residents, Central Jersey consists of all of Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, Mercer, and Monmouth counties (the counties that Monmouth Poll considers to be in Central Jersey). But the region also includes portions of Union and Ocean Counties, according to the folks who live there.

About half of Union County's residents — west of Route 27 and south of Route 28, essentially — see themselves as living in Central Jersey, according to the poll. This includes all or part of Clark, Cranford, Garwood, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Union Township, Westfield, and Winfield.

And folks in the northern portion of Ocean County see themselves as residents of Central Jersey. According to the poll, this includes Brick, Lakewood, Bayhead, Lavallette, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Boro and Beach, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, as well as parts of Jackson and Toms River.

Monmouth University Polling Institute
Monmouth University Polling Institute

"Now that there is official recognition Central Jersey exists, it seems everyone wants to live there. Or at least say they live there," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Does your region get its fair share?

It's folks in the central portion of the state who are most likely to believe that their region receives a proper amount of state government spending and programs.

In the poll, 54% of Central Jersey residents said their region gets its fair share, compared to 26% of South Jersey residents and 45% of North Jersey residents.

Among those who feel their region does not receive its fair share of resources, 89% of respondents in the south said that North Jersey gets more than its fair share. Seventy-nine percent of respondents in Central Jersey said the same.

Among northern residents who feel their region is not receiving the proper amount of state resources, 35% said South Jersey gets more and 31% said Central Jersey gets more. Twenty percent of these North Jersey respondents, interestingly, said their region gets more than its fair share from the state.

"It's the same old Garden State story," Murray said. "South Jersey feels left out and North Jersey doesn't seem to mind."

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