In our post-election poll from November 6-10, we wanted to do more than simply ask people why they voted the way they did. So while we did have some questions like that in the poll, most of the poll focused on future-oriented questions. This release reports on those questions, most of which were drawn from a similar poll done in November 1999.
The basic idea was to ask people to "think ahead" to the next ten years about a range of social, political, and personal issues. Because we had a lot of questions to ask, most were asked only of half the sample (randomly selected) so our "N" is not as large as we would like (between 420-470 in most cases.) But I think there is interesting stuff here, and in particular it is fascinating how so many expectations about the future in 2009 are roughly the same as they were in 1999! But one thing is clear - New Jersayans are worrying more about the future than they were in 1999. But remember, 1999 was pre-technology bubble burst, while 2009 is int he midst of the global financial crisis. It's no wonder people are worried!
New Jerseyans worry more about health insurance, the income gap and personal finances than they did a decade ago
Questions and Tables available at http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds that while New Jerseyans are no more pessimistic overall, they worry more about economic issues than they did 10 years ago. The poll asked 903 adults to assess the state’s economic future as well as their own economic, social and quality of life concerns over the next 10 years. Similar questions were asked in a 1999 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
The poll was conducted Nov. 6-10 and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 4.6 percentage points for subsamples of about 450 respondents.
Living in New Jersey the Next 10 Years
New Jerseyans’ outlook on the next ten years is mixed: Only 35 percent think conditions will get better, 41 percent say they will stay the same, and 19 percent think they will get worse. Following the election Governor-elect Chris Christie’s victory, 43 percent of Republicans are more optimistic about the state’s future; 32 percent of Democrats, and 34 percent of Independents have positive outlooks. In 1999, New Jerseyans had similar feelings about the coming decade when 38 percent thought things would be better, while 27 percent thought they would worsen.
“New Jerseyans are simply unsure about how good a place to live the state will be in 10 years,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Ten years ago, about 60 percent also thought the state would either stay the same or get worse as a place to live. There is clearly a long-term lack of positive expectations about the future of New Jersey.”
Some Optimism about the Overall Economy; Pessimism about the Specifics
Asked about New Jersey’s future economic strength, almost two-thirds of respondents say the economy will get stronger, but the optimism does not extend to perceptions about affordable living here. Almost half believe New Jersey will be less affordable 10 years from now and while 35 percent think it will be more affordable. As a result, 51 percent of residents think the state will be a worse place to retire while only 19 percent think it will be better.
Other economic concerns include healthcare and the gap between the wealthy and the poor. Almost half (45 percent) of New Jerseyans believe healthcare will be less affordable, and 65 percent think the gap between the rich and poor will grow.
Men are more optimistic about the future of the economy than are women by a 69 percent to 56 percent margin, and when asked about the future of affordable health care in the state, those earning $50,000 to $75,000 annually were the least optimistic, with only 29 percent believing affordability would improve.
A decade ago, 68 percent thought economic conditions would improve, and 57 percent believed New Jersey would be less affordable in the future. Pessimism about retiring in New Jersey remained the same in 1999 as in 2009. “As bad as the economy is, most people see it having nowhere to go but up,” said Redlawsk. “At the same time, New Jerseyans are deeply pessimistic about affordability and New Jersey as a place to retire, and have been for years. There are few if any bright spots right now.”
Race Relations and Conditions in the Cities
Residents believe that race relations will improve over the next 10 years, with 58 percent optimistic (compared to 52 percent in 1999) and only 19 percent pessimistic. Democrats (61 percent) and independents (58 percent) are more optimistic than Republicans (53 percent). Latinos (63 percent) are more hopeful than whites (61 percent) and blacks (46 percent).
New Jerseyans are mixed on conditions in New Jersey cities, with 40 percent saying they will worsen and 39 percent saying they will improve. The respective figures were 39 percent and 44 percent in 1999. Latino respondents (59 percent) are the most positive, and whites (32 percent) the most negative. Blacks (44 percent) fall in between.
New Jerseyans More Pessimistic About Personal Situation
New Jerseyans are more pessimistic about their own situations than they were a decade ago. Just about half anticipate their job situations and incomes will improve, compared to 58 percent and 65 percent, respectively, in 1999. At 18 percent, more than three times as many current respondents expect their incomes to worsen in the coming decade than in the earlier group.
New Jerseyans also have mixed feelings about prospects for their own health care. Only 34 percent of all respondents expect their access to good-quality health care to improve, while 36 percent said they expect it to stay the same, and 25 percent expect decreased health care availability and quality. Almost two-third of younger respondents (ages 18 to 34) are worried “a lot” about availability, compared to just over 50 percent of older residents. Overall, concerns are up substantially since the earlier poll, when 43 percent of all respondents said they worried “a lot” about health care, compared to 56 percent today.
Age also is a factor in optimistic or pessimistic outlooks, and younger respondents tend to be more upbeat, Redlawsk noted. About 74 percent of those aged 18-34 anticipate improvement in their jobs and 69 percent expect better incomes. Though they worry about health care quality and availability, only 24 percent expect it to be worse in the future.
“The optimism of youth is visible in how people view their personal situations,” said Redlawsk. “While older New Jerseyans are even more pessimistic than they used to be, young people retain a sense that the future will be better.”
Despite their concerns about New Jersey’s future, Democrats are more optimistic about their personal situations than are Republicans. Only 11 percent of Democrats say their income will decline, compared to 21 percent of Republicans. Similarly, 40 percent of Democrats anticipate better access to good-quality healthcare in 10 years compared to 23 percent of Republicans.
“The partisan differences are striking,” said Redlawsk. While Republicans are much more likely to think New Jersey will be a better place to live in ten years, Democrats are more likely to think their own personal situation will be better in the future.”
New Jerseyans Worry, Worry, Worry
Although New Jerseyans are fairly optimistic about their personal futures, they continue to worry – 46 percent worry “a lot,” about having enough money to live comfortably, 55 percent worry about health care and 50 percent worry about sufficient retirement funds. Women are more negative about their personal futures in terms of having sufficient money to live comfortably, retire and retain access to good-quality health care.
Overall, New Jerseyans worry more now about their future than they did in 1999. Today, 46 percent worry a lot about whether or not they will have enough money to live comfortably, compared to only 27 percent a decade ago. Insecurity about retirement is also greater in 2009. New Jerseyans are 22 points more likely to say they worry “a lot” about having enough money for retirement now than ten years ago, 55 percent to 33 percent.
Questions and Tables available at http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu