FDU Poll: Majority in New Jersey support Fusion Ticket laws

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

Majority in New Jersey support Fusion Ticket laws

Measure would allow third parties more influence in elections

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, February 16, 2023 – As a case that would allow minor political parties more influence over elections wends its way through the New Jersey court system, most New Jersey residents support fusion ticket rules. According to the latest results from the FDU Poll, 56 percent of residents, from across the political spectrum, say that they support the change, with just 32 percent saying that they oppose it. While interest groups pushing the fusion ticket proposals have commissioned surveys about the issue in the past, these are the first indications of how New Jersey feels about the issue from a disinterested polling group.

“Primary elections have very low turnout,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at FDU, and the director of the poll. “If only the people on the extreme vote in the primaries, you’re going to get more extreme candidates that don’t necessarily represent what mainstream voters want.”

While activists from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party have been the most vocal in wanting to reduce the influence of the state’s powerful county parties, a majority of New Jerseyans from both major parties support allowing fusion tickets. Support is highest among Democrats and independents (61 and 62 percent, respectively), but they’re joined by 55 percent of Republicans. Men (62 percent) are also more likely to support the change than women (51 percent).

Proponents of the change argue that it would give voters more choices, and push the parties to nominate more moderate candidates. They also argue that it is unconstitutional to say who a party can, and cannot, nominate for office, and that smaller parties should be able to nominate a major party candidate if they so wish. Opponents note that states have long been allowed to pass laws to regulate their own election systems, and most states ban two parties from nominating the same candidate.

One sign of discontent with the election process comes from the geographic distribution of who supports a fusion ticket proposal. Residents in the areas with the strongest party systems – in the urban core counties of Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, and Union and the coastal counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean – also have the highest support for reforms (59 percent in the Urban Core, and 66 percent in the Coastal areas).

The issue gained prominence in New Jersey politics last year when a group of self-described moderates sued to overturn the state’s ban on fusion voting in the hopes of influencing the election in New Jersey’s seventh Congressional district. The group, many of whom said that they were Republicans alienated by Donald Trump’s influence on the party, had hoped to nominate Democratic incumbent Tom Malinowski on the Moderate Party line.  While Malinowski lost his re-election bid last year, the case, Moderate Party v Way, is still making its way through the New Jersey court system.

Today, 43 states have a ban on fusion ticket voting, most dating back more than 100 years to the progressive era; New Jersey’s ban dates to the 1920s. During the progressive era, smaller political parties used fusion ticket rules to push the major parties to adopt their issue stances. The smaller parties could credibly threaten to withhold their votes from the major party candidates by nominating their own candidates, rather than “fusing” with the major party. The success of these tactics led many states to ban the practice, though it survives in some states, most notably New York. There, the Working Families Party has had a significant influence on the Democratic Party, and the Conservative Party has been able to pull the Republican Party towards their views.

“The argument against fusion ticket laws has always been about maintaining stability,” said Cassino. “But when both sides are unhappy with the way their parties are going, that stops being a compelling case.”

 

Methodology

The survey was conducted between February 1 and February 6, 2023, using a certified list of adult New Jersey residents carried out by Braun Research of Princeton, New Jersey. Respondents were randomly chosen from the list and contacted via either live-caller telephone interviews or text-to-web surveys sent to cellular phones, resulting in an overall sample of 808 respondents. 235 of the surveys were carried out via live-caller telephone interviews on landlines, and the remainder (573) were done on a web platform via weblinks sent via SMS to cell phones, or via live caller cell phone interviews. Surveys were conducted only in English.

The data were weighted to be representative of the population of adult NJ residents, as of the 2020 US Census. 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, education 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, calculated design effects are approximately 1.3.

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 808 residents is +/-3.5 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-4.6 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, differences in translated forms, or context effects. While such errors are known to exist, they are often unquantifiable within a particular survey, and all efforts, such as randomization and extensive pre-testing of items, have been used to minimize them.

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

808 New Jersey Residents

Figures are weighted to overall voter characteristics from the 2020 US Census. Respondents who refused to answer a demographic item are not included.

 

Man                           

47%                 N = 381

Woman                         

51%                 N = 412

Some Other Way

2%                  N = 15

 

18-30

17%           N = 136

31-44

29%                 N = 232

45-64

33%                 N = 264

65+

21%                 N = 168

 

Democrat (with leaners)

50%                 N = 357

Independent                   

15%                 N = 110

Republican (with leaners)

35%                 N = 246

 

White                         

55%           N = 443

Black                         

11%           N = 92

Hispanic/Latino/a             

18%           N = 145

Asian

9%           N = 69

Other/Multi-racial            

2%           N = 15

 

No college degree

55%           N = 447

College degree or more

45%           N = 350

 

Question Wording and Order

NJ1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Phil Murphy is handling his job as governor?

  1. Approve
  2. Disapprove
  3. Not Sure/Don’t Know [Vol]
  4. Refused [Vol]

 

NJ2. I’m going to describe some bills that might be considered by the state legislature this year. For each, tell me whether you would support that bill, oppose that bill, or if you don’t know.

A. Currently, high schools in New Jersey start as early as 7:30 in the morning. One bill would require that high schools at 8:30 or later. Students would stay later to get the same amount of class time.

  1. Support bill
  2. Oppose bill
  3. Not sure
  4. Don’t Know [vol]
  5. Refused [vol]

 

[NJ2B-NJ6 Held for future release]

I’m going to read you the names of some people who might run for Governor of New Jersey in the next election. Some are already well known, and some aren’t. For each, tell me if you’ve heard of them, and, if you have, whether you have a positive or negative view of them.

[Respondents are randomly assigned to get the candidates in order A or B]

Order A:

  1. Newark Mayor Democrat Ras Baraka
  2. Republican State Senator Holly Schepisi
  3. Former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli
  4. Jersey City Mayor Democrat Steven Fulop
  5. [Democratic/Republican] [Mayor/Assemblywoman] Paula Hawkins*
  6. [Democratic/Republican] [Mayor/Assemblyman] Vance Kassebaum*
  7. Current first lady Democrat Tammy Murphy
  8. Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill
  9. Republican Talk Show Host Bill Spadea
  10. Republican State Senator Mike Testa
  11. Lieutenant Governor Democrat Sheila Oliver
  12. Former Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney

Order B:

  1. Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill
  2. Republican State Senator Holly Schepisi
  3. Current first lady Democrat Tammy Murphy
  4. [Democratic/Republican] [Mayor/Assemblywoman] Paula Hawkins*
  5. Lieutenant Governor Democrat Sheila Oliver
  6. Newark Mayor Democrat Ras Baraka
  7. Former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli
  8. Jersey City Mayor Democrat Steven Fulop
  9. [Democratic/Republican] [Mayor/Assemblyman] Vance Kassebaum*
  10. Republican Talk Show Host Bill Spadea
  11. Republican State Senator Mike Testa
  12. Former Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney

[Hawkins and Kassebaum are made up names, used as baselines. They are randomly assigned across Dem/Rep and Mayor/Assembly Member]

For each:

C1. Have you heard of [insert name here]?

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Refused [vol]

C2. [If C1 is “yes”] Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of them, or do you not know enough about them to have an opinion?

  1. Favorable
  2. Unfavorable
  3. Don’t know enough to have an opinion
  4. Refused [vol]

NJ2. I’m going to describe some bills that might be considered by the state legislature this year. For each, tell me whether you would support that bill, oppose that bill, or if you don’t know.

  1. Currently, high schools in New Jersey start as early as 7:30 in the morning. One bill would require that high schools at 8:30 or later. Students would stay later to get the same amount of class time.
  2. [Held for future release]

[For each]

  1. Support bill
  2. Oppose bill
  3. Not sure
  4. Don’t Know [vol]
  5. Refused [vol]

NJ4. [Half of respondents get this here, half get it before NJ3] When you go to a restaurant, do you prefer it if you can bring your own bottle, or if the restaurant serves its own alcohol?

  1. Prefer BYOB
  2. Prefer restaurant to serve alcohol
  3. No Preference/ Don’t Know [Vol]
  4. Refused  [Vol]

NJ3. Governor Murphy has proposed increasing the number of liquor licenses for restaurants in New Jersey. [This would make it easier for restaurants to serve alcohol, and encourage more chain restaurants to open]. But [this could hurt some restaurants that bought licenses for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.] [Rotate order of pros/cons] What do you think? Should the state expand the number of liquor licenses, or not?

  1. State should expand the number of licenses
  2. State should not expand the number of licenses
  3. Don’t know [Vol]
  4. Refused [Vol]

NJ4. [Half of respondents get this here, half get it before NJ3] When you go to a restaurant, do you prefer it if you can bring your own bottle, or if the restaurant serves its own alcohol?

  1. Prefer BYOB
  2. Prefer restaurant to serve alcohol
  3. No Preference/ Don’t Know [Vol]
  4. Refused  [Vol]

NJ5. Right now, a candidate can only be nominated by one party, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party or some third party. Some have proposed that candidates can be nominated by more than one party, which was legal in New Jersey in the past, but is currently banned. What do you think? Should the state allow third parties to nominate the same person for an office as one of the major parties?

  1. Support allowing multiple parties to nominate the same person
  2. Oppose allowing multiple parties to nominate the same person
  3. Don’t Know [Vol]
  4. Refused [Vol]

NJ6. There have been several proposals to modify the state’s ban on single use bags at grocery stores. What do you think? Should keep the bag ban as is, modify the ban on disposable bags, or overturn the law completely?

  1. Keep ban as is
  2. Modify ban
  3. Overturn law
  4. Don’t Know [vol]
  5. Refused [vol]

 

Region Classifications

Northwest: Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren Counties
Northeast: Bergen and Passaic Counties
Urban Core: Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, and Union Counties
South: Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties
Coast: Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties

 

Release Tables

 

Should the state allow multiple parties to nominate the same candidate?
All
Dem
Indp
Rep
Support
56%
61%
62%
55%
Oppose
32%
29%
24%
33%
[Vol] Don’t Know/Refused
12%
10%
14%
12%

 

Should the state allow multiple parties to nominate the same candidate?
All
Men
Women
Support
56%
62%
51%
Oppose
32%
28%
35%
[Vol] Don’t Know/Refused
12%
10%
14%

 

Should the state allow multiple parties to nominate the same candidate?
All
30 & Under
31-44
45-64
65+
Support
56%
59%
59%
55%
52%
Oppose
32%
32%
28%
33%
34%
[Vol] Don’t Know/Refused
12%
9%
13%
12%
14%

 

Should the state allow multiple parties to nominate the same candidate?
Northeast
Urban Core
Northwest
Coast
South
Support
53%
59%
49%
66%
47%
Oppose
37%
30%
29%
27%
39%
[Vol] Don’t Know/Refused
10%
11%
22%
7%
14%

 

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