February 12, 1999 - Whitman Tops Lautenberg In Senate Matchup, Quinnipiac College Poll Finds; Most Don't Believe Tax Rebate Will Last
Gov. Christine Todd Whitman has a 50 - 41 percent lead over incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg in an early look at next year's New Jersey Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac College Poll released today.

In a race too close to call, Lautenberg gets 42 percent against former Gov. Tom Kean's 46 percent. Despite the poor showing against possible Republican challengers, Lautenberg has a 52 - 29 percent approval rating.

Gov. Whitman's approval rating is 58 - 33 percent, despite a negative 40 - 52 percent approval for her handling of taxes. This is her highest approval since a 62 - 32 percent mark in a February 18, 1997, poll by the independent Quinnipiac College.

Whitman gets a 46 - 40 percent approval for her handling of the state budget, and a 47 - 39 percent grade for her handling of education.

"In next year's Senate race, Sen. Lautenberg would face a strong challenge by either of two potential Republican rivals. New Jersey voters' negative 65 - 27 percent approval of the way Senate Republicans are handling impeachment apparently doesn't hurt their Governor and former governor," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac College Polling Institute.

"New Jersey voters are feeling better about their Governor and they feel better about life in the Garden State than at any time since Quinnipiac College began polling three years ago."

"With a state budget surplus, a tax rebate in the works and a paucity of ideological issues, it's a good time to be an incumbent Governor looking at a possible Senate race."

A total of 71 percent of New Jersey voters are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in the state, while 28 percent are somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. This is a 4 points above the previous high satisfaction February 20, 1997.

By a 46 - 25 percent margin, voters have a favorable opinion of Whitman, while 28 percent have a mixed opinion and 2 percent haven't heard enough to form an opinion. Favorability ratings for other New Jersey leaders are:
                        Favorable  Unfavorable    Mixed    No Opinion
Lautenberg                 36          22          19          22
Kean                       39          13          22          25


In an open-ended question, where respondents can give any answer, 30 percent of voters list taxes as the most important problem facing the state, followed by 17 percent for auto insurance, 14 percent for education and 6 percent for the environment/pollution.

Asked who does the best spending tax dollars wisely, 43 percent say local government, while 26 percent point to state government and 15 percent favor the federal government.

By a 53 - 35 percent margin, voters say Whitman's property tax rebate plan is a good idea. But only 35 percent of voters believe it is very likely or somewhat likely that the rebate will reach the full promised payback in the fifth year and beyond, while 61 percent say it is not very likely or not likely at all.

"Gov. Whitman's rebate proposal doesn't give the Democrats much to talk about. But the poll turned up 35 percent of voters who don't think the rebate is a good idea and 61 percent of voters are skeptical that the rebate will deliver as promised," Carroll said.

"'Show me the money,' New Jersey voters are saying.

From February 3 - 8, Quinnipiac College surveyed 926 New Jersey residents who say they are registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.

The Quinnipiac College Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as a public service and for research.

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christine Whitman is handling her job as Governor of New Jersey?

                                                                Nov 12
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom  1998


Approve 58% 78% 40% 59% 61% 54% 55%

Disapprove 33 15 51 31 30 36 37

DK/NA 10 7 10 11 9 10 7



2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Frank Lautenberg is handling his job as United States Senator?

                                                                Nov 12
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom  1998


Approve 52% 37% 69% 49% 51% 52% 52%

Disapprove 29 47 14 30 36 24 26

DK/NA 19 16 17 21 12 24 22



3. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Robert Torricelli is handling his job as United States Senator?

                                                                Nov 12
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom  1998


Approve 45% 36% 62% 39% 46% 45% 41%

Disapprove 30 47 14 31 36 26 27

DK/NA 24 18 23 30 18 30 32



7. In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in New Jersey today? Very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?

                                                                Oct 22 
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom  1997


Very satisfied 11% 19% 9% 7% 14% 9% 8%

Smwht satisfied 60 63 60 61 62 58 53

Smwht dissatisfied 21 14 21 25 16 26 26

Very dissatisfied 7 3 10 7 9 6 12

DK/NA - 1 - 1 - - 1



10. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christine Whitman is handling taxes?

                                                                  Aug 10
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom   1998


Approve 40% 64% 24% 36% 43% 37% 40%

Disapprove 52 30 69 55 50 54 55

DK/NA 8 6 8 9 7 9 5



11. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christine Whitman is handling the state budget?

                                                                  Aug 10
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom   1998


Approve 46% 66% 33% 44% 52% 42% 49%

Disapprove 40 26 54 39 38 42 42

DK/NA 13 9 14 17 10 17 10



12. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christine Whitman is handling education?

                                                                  March 4
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom   1998


Approve 47% 64% 41% 41% 50% 45% 51%

Disapprove 39 25 47 42 35 42 41

DK/NA 14 11 12 16 15 13 8



21. Is your opinion of former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean favorable, unfavorable, mixed, or haven't you heard enough about him?

                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


Favorable 39% 48% 31% 42% 42% 36%

Unfavorable 13 8 14 16 14 12

Mixed 22 22 26 17 22 22

Haven't hrd enough 25 22 29 23 20 29

REFUSED 1 1 - 2 1 1



22. Is your opinion of Governor Christine Whitman favorable, unfavorable, mixed, or haven't you heard enough about her?

                                                                Nov 12
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom  1998


Favorable 46% 70% 26% 44% 50% 42% 41%

Unfavorable 25 8 39 25 24 26 27

Mixed 28 20 33 29 24 30 26

Haven't hrd enough 2 1 2 1 1 2 5

REFUSED - 1 - - - -



23. Is your opinion of United States Senator Frank Lautenberg favorable, unfavorable, mixed, or haven't you heard enough about him?

                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


Favorable 36% 23% 50% 34% 38% 34%

Unfavorable 22 39 8 23 29 16

Mixed 19 21 17 20 17 21

Haven't hrd enough 22 16 26 23 16 28

REFUSED - - - 1 - -



24. If the election for Senator in the year 2000 were being held today and the candidates were Frank Lautenberg the Democrat, and Christine Whitman the Republican, for whom you would vote?

                                                                Apr 23
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom  1998


Frank Lautenberg 41% 8% 73% 40% 38% 43% 45%

Christine Whitman 50 87 18 49 54 47 44

SOMEONE ELSE (VOL) 2 1 2 3 2 2 2

WOULDN'T VOTE (VOL) 2 - 2 3 2 2 2

DK/NA 5 4 5 6 3 7 6



25. If the election for Senator in the year 2000 were being held today and the candidates were Frank Lautenberg the Democrat, and Tom Kean the Republican, for whom you would vote?

                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


Frank Lautenberg 42% 13% 74% 39% 42% 43%

Tom Kean 46 78 18 47 50 42

SOMEONE ELSE (VOL) 1 1 1 1 1 1

WOULDN'T VOTE (VOL) 2 2 1 4 2 3

DK/NA 8 6 6 9 5 11



39. In general, who do you think does the best job of spending tax dollars in a constructive and efficient way? The federal government, your state government, or your local government?

                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


Federal 15% 8% 22% 13% 16% 13%

State 26 35 22 25 28 25

Local 43 44 42 45 44 43

DK/NA 16 13 15 16 12 19



40. Governor Whitman has proposed that the state provide homeowners a tax rebate. How much have you heard or read about her tax rebate plan? A lot, some, only a little, or nothing at all?

                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


A lot 11% 12% 12% 11% 12% 10%

Some 33 41 29 34 37 30

Only a little 38 34 37 39 36 40

Nothing at all 17 14 22 16 14 19

DK/NA - - - 1 1 -



41. The plan would provide an average rebate of 120 dollars this year to homeowners, and increase to about 600 dollars a year in 5 years. The cost of the rebate would grow from 200 million dollars the first year to 1 billion dollars annually in 5 years. Do you think Governor Whitman's tax rebate plan is a good idea or a bad idea?

                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


Good idea 53% 62% 51% 49% 56% 50%

Bad idea 35 30 35 39 35 34

DK/NA 13 9 14 12 9 16



42. How likely do you think it is that the state would continue to pay homeowners the average 600 dollar annual rebates in the fifth year and thereafter? Very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not likely at all?
                         Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


Very likely 7% 7% 7% 7% 8% 6%

Smwht likely 28 34 29 25 29 27

Not very likely 35 33 34 36 32 37

Not likely at all 26 20 26 28 28 24

DK/NA 5 5 4 5 3 6



9. What do you think is the most important problem facing New Jersey today?

                             Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom


Crime/Violence 3% 2% 2% 4% 3% 3%

Drugs 2 1 2 2 1 2

Criminal justice system - - - 1 - -

Unemployment/Jobs 3 2 5 3 3 3

Cost of living 1 1 1 - - 1

Cities/Urban decay - - - 1 - -

Taxes 8 9 7 8 10 6

State income tax 1 1 1 1 1 1

Local property tax 21 25 18 20 24 18

Budget/Deficit - - - 1 - -

Government spending - - - 1 - -

Poverty/Homelessness 1 - 1 - - 1

Housing costs/Availability - - 1 - - 1

Overcrowding 4 2 3 5 4 3

Welfare 1 2 - 2 1 1

Class inequality/ Income disparity - - - 1 - -

Healthcare/Costs/ Insurance/HMOs 2 2 4 2 2 3

Abortion - 1 - - - 1

Education 11 8 12 12 8 13

Funding public schools 3 2 4 4 3 4

Environment/Pollution 6 2 8 6 5 6

Race relations - 1 - - - -

Lack of mass transit/ Public trans. 1 1 - - 1 1

Traffic 1 2 1 1 2 1

Auto insurance 17 19 18 15 15 19

Roads/Highways 2 2 2 1 3 1

Politicians/Government 1 1 - 1 1 -

Governor/Mayor - - 1 1 - -

Other 4 5 5 3 4 4

DK/NA 4 6 3 3 3 5