FDU Poll: New Jersey Residents Like ‘the Garden State’

Keep “the Garden State” in the Garden State. According to the most recent statewide survey of New Jersey adults from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll, along with support from the New Jersey Farm Bureau, more than 3 in 4 (77%) New Jersey voters believe The Garden State is a good nickname for New Jersey. Only 13 percent believe the state’s nickname should be changed, and another 10 percent are unsure. Women (80%) are more likely than men (75%) to believe it should remain, and in a rare showing of bipartisanship, Democrats (79%) and Republicans (79%) agree. “We think the poll shows New Jerseyans appreciate not only their highly productive local farms but also displays their love of landscape plants and protected open space lands,” said Farm Bureau president Ryck Suydam.

The COVID pandemic highlighted the importance of having food grown locally, and New Jersey voters recognize the role of farms in this effort. Sixty percent indicate that having local farms near them as a source of locally grown food is ‘very important, and an additional 31 percent say it is ‘somewhat important.’ More women (94%) than men (89%) believe it is important. Once again, Democrats (92%) and Republicans (93%) are in agreement. “Overall, more than 9 in 10 New Jersey residents were glad to see the ready supply of local food during the height of the pandemic and were quick to trust this alternative. It’s yet another asset for our metropolitan state,” said Peter Furey, Farm Bureau executive director.

Some of the issues confronting farmers are also faced by homeowners, including the damage to plants that can be done by the overpopulation of deer and other wildlife. If wildlife scientists conclude that deer are exceeding their recommended habitat limits, 63 percent of New Jersey residents say they favor hunts in addition to the current levels to control the New Jersey deer population. This is up considerably from the most recent FDU poll on the topic conducted in March 2020, where only 49 percent of New Jerseyans favored any additional hunts. Men (74%) are more likely than women (53%) to support these hunts. Democrats and Republicans are also divided over a seemingly non-partisan issue, with 69 percent of Republicans favoring an additional hunt as compared to 57 percent of Democrats. It should be noted that this is the first time more than half of women or Democrats support the additional deer hunts.

“Nearly all New Jersey residents are impacted by the over-abundance of white-tail deer in some way,” said Ryck Suydam, President of New Jersey Farm Bureau. “Whether it’s the ecological damage to our forests, increases in tick-borne diseases and deer-car collisions, or the damage to agricultural crops, deer affect all of our lives.”

The poll also asked about solar panels and their use on farmland. Currently, farmers are restricted in the area of their land that can be covered with solar panels. Overall, half (52%) believe it is more important to grow crops on these lands even at the cost of having less solar energy. while a quarter (26%) said it is more important to generate additional solar energy, even if it means less prime farmland. Men (30%) are more likely than women (23%) to believe it is more important to generate solar energy. Those 18 to 24 (45%) are more likely than their cohorts to say it is more important to generate solar energy. Democrats (40%) and Republicans (7%) are far apart in their beliefs that is more important to generate additional solar energy. “People sense food supply as a greater good than having solar panel displacement. But with proper oversight, we may achieve the best of what each has to offer,” director Furey said.

 

Methodology

The survey was conducted between June 9 and June 16, 2021, using a certified list of registered voters in New Jersey. Voters were randomly chosen from the list and contacted in one of two ways. Three-quarters of the respondents (608) received an invitation through SMS (text) to fill out the survey online, via a provided link. The other quarter of respondents (195) were contacted via telephone, using the same registered voter list. The survey covers 803 registered voters in New Jersey, ages 18 and older, and was conducted entirely in English. The survey was carried out by Braun Research, Inc, of Princeton, New Jersey. Of the interviews, 123 were conducted over landlines, the remainder via cell phones.

The data were weighted to be representative of the registered voter population of New Jersey. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, we see design effects of approximately 1.14.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 803 registered voters in New Jersey is +/-3.46 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-3.94 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects.

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

803 New Jersey Registered Voters

Woman    52% N = 407

Man    47% N = 364

Some Other Way    1% N = 7

 

18-24    12% N = 93

25-34    13% N = 101

35-44    13% N = 102

45-64    37% N = 293

65+    25% N = 199

 

Democrat (with leaners  46% N = 371

Independent   22% N = 172

Republican (with leaners) 32% N = 260

 

White    70% N = 560

Black      9% N = 75

Hispanic     8% N = 61

Asian      4% N = 31

Other    10% N = 76

 

HS or Less   12% N = 95

Some College   31% N = 246

College degree or more  56% N = 448

 

Question wording and order:

1. Farming and open space has been so important to New Jersey that it is called “The Garden State”. In your opinion, is it still a good nickname for New Jersey, or should the state look to change it?

a) Good Nickname

b) Should be changed

c) Don’t Know / Refused: Volunteered]

2. The state legislature is now considering a bill that would regulate how many solar panels could be put on prime farmland. Some people say [RANDOMIZE ORDER OF OPTIONS] that too many solar panels would interfere with, or harm prime farmland; other people say that the development of solar panels is important to meeting New Jersey’s clean energy goals. Which comes closest to your opinion, even if neither is perfect?

a) It’s important to generate more solar energy, even if it means less prime farmland

b) It’s important to grow crops on prime farmland, even if it means less solar energy

c) [Don’t Know / Refused: Volunteered]

 

3. The pandemic and other disruptions have sometimes made it difficult to bring the food we need into New Jersey. Growing food locally can lessen the need for food from outside of New Jersey.  In your opinion, how important is it to you to have local farms near you as a source of locally grown food?  (NJFB’s thought is NJ farms could never supply all the required food).

a) Very important

b) Somewhat important

c) Not very important

d) Not important at all

4. Do you favor or oppose allowing additional deer hunts in New Jersey if wildlife scientists conclude that deer are exceeding their recommended habitat limits, are destroying private property and become an increased roadway risk?

a) Favor

b) Oppose

c) [Don’t Know / Refused: Volunteered]

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