Most New Jerseyans Uninformed of State Politics as Assembly Election Nears

By Brenda Flanagan

Campaign signs may be popping up like mushrooms, but few people notice or even know who’s on the ballot.

“I don’t think they’re really paying attention. Especially when they have General Assembly at the top of the ticket right now. I don’t think that’s a big draw for New Jerseyans,” said Ashley Koning.

Koning from the Rutgers-Eagleton Institute thinks their latest poll proves it. When asked which state offices are up for grabs next Tuesday — three percent said the entire Legislature, five percent said the Senate and six percent said the Assembly. That’s the correct answer, by the way. Most people had no idea. Analyst Brigid Harrison foresees an incumbent cakewalk.

“Increased turnout probably is not going to make a huge amount of difference, overall,” she said. “Of course we want people coming out. We want people voting. But, I don’t know if in this particular case, that it would have a very big impact if more people came out and voted this year.”

“Especially with 2016 buzzing around, everything is about Donald Trump or Ben Carson, and our own governor in the state is running in 2016, so I think views are shifted to a much more national stage,” Koning said.

And Christie’s absence does matter, says former Governor Whitman.

“The governor, who would be a player in this, and he might come in at the end, but right now he is not the factor drawing people’s attention to the fact that we have an election going on, and that was always helpful,” Whitman said.

The State Senate’s not on this November’s ballot, but Eagleton asked people to identify theirs.

The poll showed only five percent can name them correctly, three percent incorrectly identified their state senator. The vast majority: clueless. Their opinion of the whole Legislature? 28 percent said favorable, but more said unfavorable and most had no opinion.

“If you don’t vote what you’re saying to the incumbent is, you’re doing fine, or we really don’t care. So when people say ‘I don’t like any of my choices,’ well you can write in. Write in somebody,” said Whitman.

So let’s do a recap. Yes, there is an election next week, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Assembly races top the ballot. If you’re feeling a little apathetic you might want to remember, they are spending your tax dollars. You might want to have a say in that.