The economic poll results are in — and they go a long way to explaining why we seemingly can’t get anything done around here.
When asked in the latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll whether the country’s biggest problem was income inequality or too much government, New Jersey residents were evenly divided at 48 percent for each.
Respondents also were virtually split on whether the country’s economic problems are just temporary (51 percent) or that our best days are behind us (45 percent).
The results were somewhat surprising since New Jersey — despite a solid history of Republican governors — is widely considered a left-leaning or blue state. Or one most pundits likely would have figured would veer more toward the income inequality option.
“We recently reported large majorities of Garden Staters support a wide range of liberal social positions, but it’s different when it comes to economic well-being,” David Redlawsk, director of the poll and a professor of political science at Rutgers, said in a statement with the release of the poll.
“While New Jersey is one of the most affluent states, residents appear quite unsettled about the country’s economic future. Moreover, the liberal focus on income inequality is less prevalent than might be expected, when placed against a desire for smaller government.”
The results based on income may not be what you’d expect.
Those making between $50K and $100K said too much government was the problem (52 percent), compared to the 46 percent of that group who said income equality. And those making more than $150K said income inequality was the greater issue (50 percent), compared to 49 percent who said too much government.
Not surprisingly, most of the views went by party lines.
Of those identifying themselves as Republicans, 79 percent felt too much government was the bigger problem. For Democratic supporters, 68 percent felt income inequality was the bigger problem.
The opinions of New Jerseyans virtually mirrored those of New York and Virginia, which both took the same poll.
A slim majority of New Yorkers feel income inequality is the bigger problem (54 percent) whereas a slim majority of Virginians (52 percent) said too much government is the bigger issue. Both states, by the way, recently elected Democratic governors and went for President Obama in 2012.
According to the survey: Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of /- 3.7 percentage points, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 22 to 28, as part of a three-state study carried out by Eagleton (in New Jersey), the Siena Research Institute (in New York) and Roanoke College’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (in Virginia).