February 10, 2011 - New Jersey Voters Turn On State Workers, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Support Layoffs, Wage Freeze, Pension Cuts

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By substantial margins, New Jersey voters support layoffs, wage freezes and reduced pensions for state workers, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Voters approve 53 - 41 percent of the way Gov. Christopher Christie is handling the state budget, but split 47 - 48 percent in their approval of how he is handling education, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

New Jersey's budget problems are "very serious," 82 percent of voters say, while 15 percent say they are "somewhat serious." To balance the state budget, 64 percent of voters say cut services, while 26 percent say raise taxes. Among measures voters support:
  • 56 - 38 percent support layoffs for state workers. Democrats oppose layoffs 53 - 40 percent and voters with a union member in the household oppose layoffs 53 - 44 percent.
  • 65 - 24 percent for furloughs for state workers, including 61 - 25 percent among Democrats and 61 - 28 percent in union households.
  • 77 - 20 percent for wage freezes for state workers, including 72 - 23 percent among Democrats and 64 - 34 percent in union households.
  • 66 - 29 percent for reducing pensions for new state workers, including 56 - 39 percent among Democrats and 57 - 42 percent in union households.
"As the reality of tough budgets begins to sink in - in New Jersey and everywhere else - voters are starting to get tougher on state workers," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Furloughs and wage freezes had won some approval in the past. Now voters approve even layoffs and reduction in pension benefits for new workers."

New Jersey voters support 55 - 34 percent the so-called "Millionaires' Tax." Support is 72 - 21 percent among Democrats and 55 - 32 percent among independent voters, while Republicans oppose the tax 53 - 33 percent.

New Jersey voters oppose 71 - 25 percent cutting aid to public schools, with no group in support of such a cut. Voters split 47 - 48 percent on tax cuts for corporations to help stimulate the state economy.

Gov. Christie's proposed cap on salaries for school superintendents is a good way to help balance the budget, 68 percent of voters say, while 25 percent say it is meddling in local government. All groups support the salary cap.

By a 62 - 17 percent margin, New Jersey voters have a favorable opinion of public school teachers, but their opinion of the teachers' union is 44 - 27 percent unfavorable.

Teacher unions are playing a negative role in improving New Jersey education, voters say 52 - 36 percent.

New Jersey voter opinions on other education questions are:
  • 68 - 27 percent in favor of merit pay for teachers who do an outstanding job;
  • 62 - 30 percent in favor of limiting teacher tenure;
  • 52 - 43 percent against school vouchers;
  • 50 - 41 percent against charter schools.
"Voters agree overwhelmingly that Gov. Christopher Christie has one tough problem on his hands as he prepares to submit his budget next week," Carroll said. "What would they like that budget message to say? They like the idea of a 'Millionaires' Tax' on high-income people. And they don't want to cut state school aid.

"They like their kids' teachers, but don't like the teachers' union. And they favor two items that the union hates - merit pay and some limits on teacher tenure.

"But voters are unenthusiastic on two school items that Gov. Christie likes - vouchers and charter schools.

"More than two-thirds of voters agree with Christie's move to curb school superintendent salaries. One-quarter think it's meddling in local affairs."

From February 3 - 7, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,347 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.
14. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christopher Christie is handling education?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Approve              47%    70%    23%    53%    54%    40%    52%    15%
Disapprove           48     23     73     41     41     54     42     80
DK/NA                 5      6      4      6      5      5      6      4
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Approve              29%    47%    57%    47%    50%    34%    43%
Disapprove           66     45     38     51     44     63     54
DK/NA                 5      8      5      2      6      3      4
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christopher Christie is handling - education?
                     Feb 10  Dec 21
                     2011    2010
 
Approve              47      45
Disapprove           48      49
DK/NA                 5       6
 
 
15. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christopher Christie is handling the state budget?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Approve              53%    82%    30%    57%    65%    43%    58%    26%
Disapprove           41     13     68     35     31     50     36     70
DK/NA                 5      5      3      8      4      7      6      4
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Approve              35%    53%    65%    52%    59%    41%    52%
Disapprove           60     39     30     46     36     57     44
DK/NA                 5      8      6      3      5      2      4
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Christopher Christie is handling the state budget?
                     Feb 10  Nov 11  Jun 17
                     2011    2010    2010
 
Approve              53      52      45
Disapprove           41      42      49
DK/NA                 5       6       6
 
 
16. How serious do you think New Jersey's budget problems are - very serious, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not at all serious?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Very serious         82%    89%    80%    78%    81%    82%    85%    78%
Smwht serious        15      9     17     17     14     15     14     18
Not too serious       2      -      2      4      3      1      1      2
Not at all serious    1      1      -      1      1      -      1      -
DK/NA                 1      1      1      -      1      1      -      2
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Very serious         73%    81%    85%    86%    83%    79%    82%
Smwht serious        20     15     13     10     16     17     12
Not too serious       5      2      1      4      1      4      4
Not at all serious    -      1      1      -      1      1      1
DK/NA                 2      2      -      -      -      -      1
 
TREND: How serious do you think New Jersey's budget problems are - very serious, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not at all serious?
                                                             VERY+SMWHT....
                                                             High    Low
                     Feb 10  Nov 11  Jan 20  Nov 24  Aug 12  Nov 11  Dec 11
                     2011    2010    2010    2009    2008    2010    2002
 
Very serious         82      86      80      83      67      86      35
Somewhat serious     15      13      17      14      28      13      51
Not too serious       2       -       2       1       2       -      10
Not at all serious    1       -       -       -       -       -       1
DK/NA                 1       1       1       2       3       1       3
 
 
17. To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer; raising taxes or cutting government programs and services
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Raising taxes        26%     7%    43%    24%    29%    24%    22%    40%
Cutting services     64     91     45     66     65     64     69     46
DK/NA                 9      2     12     10      6     12      8     14
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Raising taxes        37%    26%    20%    27%    25%    35%    28%
Cutting services     50     64     76     62     67     59     64
DK/NA                13     10      5     11      8      7      8
 
TREND: To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer raising taxes or cutting government programs and services?
                     Feb 10  Nov 11  Jan 20  Nov 24  Mar 16  Jan 26  Apr 02
                     2011    2010    2010    2009    2006    2006    2003
 
Raising taxes        26      26      25      23      29      28      32
Cutting services     64      62      62      68      58      57      54
DK/NA                 9      13      13       9      13      16      14
 
 
18. To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose layoffs for state employees?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              56%    75%    40%    58%    62%    49%    59%    34%
Oppose               38     21     53     34     34     41     34     60
DK/NA                 7      3      7      7      4      9      7      6
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Support              44%    55%    64%    53%    59%    44%    56%
Oppose               50     37     28     41     36     53     40
DK/NA                 6      8      8      5      5      3      4
 
TREND: To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose - layoffs for state employees?
                     Feb 10  Nov 11
                     2011    2010
 
Support              56      54
Oppose               38      39
DK/NA                 7       7
 
 
19. To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose furloughs for state employees?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              65%    72%    61%    62%    68%    61%    66%    58%
Oppose               24     17     25     27     23     24     22     22
DK/NA                12     11     14     11      9     15     12     20
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Support              47%    74%    73%    58%    60%    61%    66%
Oppose               32     17     18     30     28     28     25
DK/NA                22      9      8     12     12     11      8
 
TREND: To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose - furloughs for state employees?
                     Feb 10  Nov 11
                     2011    2010
 
Support              65      63
Oppose               24      25
DK/NA                12      11
 
 
20. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose a wage freeze for state workers?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              77%    86%    72%    75%    79%    75%    80%    65%
Oppose               20     13     23     21     18     21     16     31
DK/NA                 3      1      5      4      3      4      4      4
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Support              61%    80%    82%    75%    80%    64%    80%
Oppose               35     17     16     20     16     34     18
DK/NA                 3      3      2      5      4      3      3
 
TREND: To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose a wage freeze for state workers?
                     Feb 10  Nov 11  Jan 20  Nov 24
                     2011    2010    2010    2009
 
Support              77      78      71      75
Oppose               20      19      23      21
DK/NA                 3       3       6       4
 
 
21. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose reducing pension benefits for new state workers?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              66%    81%    56%    66%    69%    63%    68%    54%
Oppose               29     16     39     28     26     32     27     43
DK/NA                 5      2      5      6      4      5      5      4
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Support              58%    66%    73%    63%    68%    57%    72%
Oppose               38     29     23     31     27     42     25
DK/NA                 4      5      4      6      4      2      2
 
 
21a. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose the so called millionaires tax?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              55%    33%    72%    55%    53%    56%    53%    61%
Oppose               34     53     21     32     39     29     34     30
DK/NA                11     14      8     13      8     15     12      9
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Support              67%    48%    54%    53%    58%    58%    53%
Oppose               24     39     34     37     32     33     33
DK/NA                 9     14     12     10     11      9     14
 
 
22. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose cutting overall state aid to public schools?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              25%    41%     7%    30%    32%    18%    27%     7%
Oppose               71     53     91     65     65     77     68     91
DK/NA                 4      6      2      5      4      5      5      2
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Support              16%    23%    34%    24%    26%    24%    13%
Oppose               82     73     62     70     70     73     84
DK/NA                 2      4      4      6      4      3      4
 
 
23. To help stimulate New Jersey's economy, do you support or oppose tax cuts for corporations?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              47%    67%    32%    49%    53%    42%    48%    40%
Oppose               48     31     65     44     43     53     47     58
DK/NA                 4      3      3      7      4      5      5      2
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Support              41%    47%    56%    42%    49%    45%    49%
Oppose               52     48     41     54     48     53     49
DK/NA                 7      5      3      4      4      3      2
 
 
24. The Governor wants to limit school superintendent salaries. Do you think this is a good way to help balance the budget or do you think it is meddling in local government?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Way to bal bud       68%    83%    58%    70%    70%    66%    73%    50%
Meddling in gov      25     14     35     23     23     27     21     43
DK/NA                 7      3      7      7      7      7      6      7
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Way to bal bud       54%    67%    70%    71%    76%    64%    68%
Meddling in gov      40     27     20     23     19     33     27
DK/NA                 6      6     10      6      5      3      5
 
TREND: The Governor wants to limit school superintendent salaries. Do you think this is a good way to help balance the budget or do you think it is meddling in local government?
                     Feb 10  Dec 21
                     2011    2010
 
Way to bal bud       68      63
Meddling in gov      25      31
DK/NA                 7       6
 
 
25. Is your opinion of New Jersey's public school teachers favorable, unfavorable, or haven't you heard enough about them?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Favorable            62%    58%    65%    62%    62%    61%    62%    56%
Unfavorable          17     20     14     16     16     17     17     12
Hvn't hrd enough     18     19     19     18     19     18     18     30
REFUSED               3      3      2      4      3      4      4      2
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Favorable            64%    57%    65%    69%    57%    67%    75%
Unfavorable          10     19     17     17     15     14     13
Hvn't hrd enough     24     20     15     10     25     17     10
REFUSED               2      4      3      4      3      2      2
 
TREND: Is your opinion of New Jersey's public school teachers favorable, unfavorable, or haven't you heard enough about them?
                     Feb 10  Dec 21  Nov 11  June 17
                     2011    2010    2010    2010
 
Favorable            62      57      56      56
Unfavorable          17      23      24      26
Hvn't hrd enough     18      18      19      16
REFUSED               3       2       1       2
 
 
26. Is your opinion of the state's largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, favorable, unfavorable, or haven't you heard enough about it?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Favorable            27%    13%    39%    25%    27%    27%    25%    40%
Unfavorable          44     64     25     50     51     38     51     15
Hvn't hrd enough     28     22     35     24     22     33     23     44
REFUSED               1      -      1      1      -      1      1      1
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Favorable            42%    26%    20%    32%    19%    46%    31%
Unfavorable          20     46     52     48     50     33     40
Hvn't hrd enough     37     27     28     19     30     20     28
REFUSED               1      1      1      1      -      -      1
 
TREND: Is your opinion of the state's largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, favorable, unfavorable, or haven't you heard enough about it?
                     Feb 10  Dec 21  Nov 11  Nov 17
                     2011    2010    2010    2010
 
Favorable            27      27      21      24
Unfavorable          44      48      46      50
Hvn't hrd enough     28      25      32      25
REFUSED               1       1       1       1
 
 
27. Generally speaking, do you believe the teachers' unions are playing a positive or a negative role in improving New Jersey's educational system?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Positive             36%    19%    51%    34%    33%    39%    32%    63%
Negative             52     73     36     53     59     45     57     29
DK/NA                12      8     14     13      8     16     11      8
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Positive             48%    31%    31%    40%    35%    53%    39%
Negative             35     55     59     52     52     40     48
DK/NA                17     13     10      8     12      7     13
 
TREND: Generally speaking, do you believe the teachers' unions are playing a positive or a negative role in improving New Jersey's educational system?
                     Feb 10  Dec 21  Nov 11  Jan 21  Oct 15
                     2011    2010    2010    2010    2009
 
Positive             36      35      36      39      45
Negative             52      55      54      48      43
DK/NA                12      11      10      12      11
 
 
28. Some people say that public school teachers who do an outstanding job should be rewarded with additional pay so called merit pay. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Good idea            68%    72%    64%    70%    74%    64%    68%    64%
Bad idea             27     24     33     25     22     33     27     32
DK/NA                 4      4      3      6      5      4      4      5
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Good idea            63%    67%    73%    67%    70%    59%    69%
Bad idea             31     26     24     30     27     37     27
DK/NA                 6      6      3      3      3      4      4
 
TREND: Some people say that public school teachers who do an outstanding job should be rewarded with additional pay so called merit pay. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Feb 10  Nov 11  Jan 21  Oct 15
                     2011    2010    2010    2009
 
Good idea            68      67      66      70
Bad idea             27      28      31      27
DK/NA                 4       5       3       3
 
 
29. Governor Christie wants to limit teacher tenure. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Good idea            62%    81%    48%    64%    64%    61%    70%    35%
Bad idea             30     13     42     30     33     28     25     56
DK/NA                 7      7      9      7      3     11      5     10
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Good idea            47%    64%    76%    59%    61%    56%    64%
Bad idea             44     29     21     31     31     35     24
DK/NA                10      8      3     10      8      9     12
 
 
30. Do you favor or oppose providing parents with tax money in the form of school vouchers to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Favor                43%    50%    38%    42%    48%    38%    42%    46%
Oppose               52     45     58     53     48     57     54     47
DK/NA                 5      5      4      5      4      5      4      7
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Favor                44%    42%    43%    47%    40%    39%    38%
Oppose               47     54     54     51     54     59     59
DK/NA                 8      4      3      2      6      2      3
 
TREND: Do you favor or oppose providing parents with tax money in the form of school vouchers to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools?
                     Feb 10  Nov 24  Jul 03
                     2011    2009    2001
 
Favor                43      43      50
Oppose               52      54      43
DK/NA                 5       3       7
 
 
31. As you may know, charter schools are operated by private or non-profit organizations. The schools are paid for with tax dollars. Do you think there should be an expansion of charter schools in New Jersey or not?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Yes                  41%    44%    34%    43%    46%    37%    38%    40%
No                   50     46     59     47     46     54     53     53
DK/NA                 8     10      7     10      8      9      9      7
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Yes                  46%    46%    42%    36%    34%    40%    40%
No                   50     47     46     55     54     55     52
DK/NA                 4      6     12      8     12      5      8
 
TREND: As you may know, charter schools are operated by private or non-profit organizations. The schools are paid for with tax dollars. Do you think there should be an expansion of charter schools in New Jersey or not?
                     Feb 10  Jan 21  Nov 24
                     2011    2010    2009
 
Yes                  41      40      38
No                   50      52      55
DK/NA                 8       8       7
 
 
32. How worried are you that a cut in state aid to schools and the two percent cap on property taxes would hurt the quality of the schools in your district, very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Very worried         21%    13%    33%    17%    17%    26%    18%    38%
Somewhat worried     35     32     40     34     33     37     35     39
Not too worried      23     29     15     27     24     23     25     13
Not worried at all   19     26     11     21     26     13     20     10
DK/NA                 1      1      1      2      1      2      1      -
 
                                          Philly        Union  HvKids
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore  HsHold PubSch
 
Very worried         31%    20%    16%    19%    23%    31%    31%
Somewhat worried     27     32     38     39     41     32     32
Not too worried      29     25     23     23     16     20     25
Not worried at all   13     21     23     18     19     17     11
DK/NA                 -      2      1      1      2      -      1
 
 
33. Many politicians have proposed allowing slot machines at racetracks. Do you think that is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Good idea            55%    52%    54%    61%    60%    51%    56%    49%
Bad idea             36     39     37     31     33     39     36     42
DK/NA                 9      9      9      8      7     11      8      9
 
                                          Philly
                     Urban  SbUrbn ExUrbn land   Shore
 
Good idea            53%    51%    61%    56%    57%
Bad idea             34     40     32     35     36
DK/NA                13      9      8      9      6
 
TREND: Many politicians have proposed allowing slot machines at racetracks. Do you think that is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Feb 10  Aug 20
                     2011    2010
 
Good idea            55      47
Bad idea             36      43
DK/NA                 9       9