More Jerseyans think state is on right track after election

The election of Phil Murphy as governor has sparked some hope for state residents, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

While 60 percent still believe New Jersey is on the wrong track, 30 percent now say the state is headed in the right direction — a double-digit increase since August.

Things will get better under the upcoming Murphy administration, 46 percent believe. Twenty percent think things will get worse, with 23 percent saying they will stay the same.

More than half are at least somewhat enthusiastic about the incoming governor, with 23 percent very enthusiastic.

More than a third of residents are not enthusiastic at all.

Just more than half believe Murphy has a clear plan for what he wants to do in the state.

Six in 10 residents say they have at least some knowledge of what Murphy wants to do as governor.

A quarter want Murphy to tackle taxes as his first issue in office. Another 14 percent choose education, with no other issue receiving more than 6 percent.

Residents show large support for some of Murphy’s campaign promises, with 80 percent supporting a minimum number of paid sick days for employees, and three-quarters backing a restoration of funding for family planning services.

Fully funding the public-employee pension system and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour each got 68 percent. Strengthening state gun laws had support from 59 percent of the respondents, with legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana getting 53 percent.

New Jerseyans continue to oppose casino expansion (61 percent) and legalized betting on college sports (55 percent).

“Post-election, New Jerseyans are eager about a new administration and what it may bring,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “But even as optimism grows, the state is in dire financial straits and taxes still reign as a top concern, which may limit what Gov. Murphy is able to do.”

Murphy’s recognition has grown post-election. New Jerseyans are now more favorable than unfavorable toward the governor-elect, 37 percent to 25 percent. But 35 percent still have no opinion of him and 3 percent do not know who he is.

A few months ago, two-thirds of residents either did not recognize Murphy or could not form an opinion of him either way.

A majority still have no opinion of incoming Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, at 60 percent. She gets a favorable review from 19 percent, with 14 percent unfavorable.

The poll of 1,203 residents taken Nov. 15 to 27 has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Some questions were asked of a subsample, resulting in about 600 respondents and a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.