Rutgers-Eagleton poll: Two-thirds of residents feel N.J. is at right pace to reopen

As Gov. Phil Murphy continues to navigate how to reopen New Jersey safely, 66% of residents said it’s going at the right pace, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Another 19% said its too quick and 16% said too slow.

So, when exactly do New Jerseyans think the state will reopen? The answer depends on how the question was asked, the poll found.

When focusing on how long it will take before there are looser restrictions and businesses reopen, residents are optimistic about a summer timeline, with 12% saying it will happen now in May, 38% by June 1 and 26% by July 1. However, when asked how long before life returns to “normal”, views change. Just a third (34%) think the state will be normal by either mid-May, June 1 or July 1, but most say it will be longer, with 17% by the end of the summer, 18% by the end of the year and 25% think it’ll be even longer.

“Perceptions on the pace at which New Jersey is moving to reopen and when normalcy will return are divided by familiar partisan lines,” Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University– New Brunswick, said. “While a majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike agree with the speed of the state’s approach to reopen, Democrats do so to a far greater degree than their counterparts. Independents and Republicans are also more hopeful than Democrats when it comes to how long they think it will take before restrictions are loosened and life returns to normal.”

Although most are wrapping their heads around the state moving to reopen, a majority are still concerned over virus and its impact on health, their finances and job security, and more.

Eight in 10 are eight very (41%) or somewhat (38%) worried that they or someone in their home will contract the coronavirus compared with the 2 in 10 that are not very (10%) or not at all (11%) worried.

The same statistics (41% very, 35% somewhat, 13% not very and 12% not at all) are seen for those concerned about being prepared if they or someone they know get COVID-19. Six in 10 worry about obtaining a test if needed (29% very, 34% somewhat) compared to the four in 10 not very (15%) and not at all (22%).

Finances and job security are also major concerns for residents, with 35% very and 23% somewhat worried they will get laid off or have pay reduced due to the outbreak. A similar amount are worried about meeting their monthly finances (29% very, 31% somewhat) and three-quarters are worried about losing investments or savings (42% very, 31% somewhat). An overwhelming number are worried about their local hospitals (49% very, 32% somewhat) running out of equipment and local businesses (58% very, 34% somewhat) shuttering.

In terms of obtaining food and other household items, 18% are very worried and another 38% are somewhat.

“The degree to which some groups worry more than others about the outbreak’s various ramifications are stark,” Koning said. “Worry over the coronavirus itself, job or pay loss, finances, and local hospitals having proper equipment is much higher among black and Hispanic residents than white residents – often by double digits – as well as lower-income residents compared to those in higher income brackets.”

The poll was conducted by phone with 1,502 participants from April 22 to May 2. The margin of error is +/-2.9 percentage points.

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