Two-thirds of New Jerseyans say Gov. Phil Murphy is doing a good job handling the coronavirus outbreak, and nearly as many say the restrictions he‘s imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19 have been appropriate, according to a Monmouth University poll released Thursday.
While the 66 percent who approve of Murphy’s handling of the outbreak may be a strong number, it’s down significantly from the 79 percent who said the same thing a year ago, just after New Jersey suffered the worst of the pandemic. At the same time, 27 percent of those surveyed said Murphy has done a bad job dealing with the pandemic.
Murphy, a progressive Democrat, is up for reelection in November. Other results released Wednesday from the same poll showed his general approval rating at 57 percent. Other than California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s facing a recall, Murphy is the only incumbent governor on the ballot this year.
Although New Jersey has the highest coronavirus death rate in the country — much of it from early in the pandemic — 53 percent of those surveyed think the state is doing better than others in dealing with coronavirus, while 23 percent say it’s doing worse and 23 percent say it’s doing about the same.
The poll also found that majorities of New Jerseyans support the easing restrictions placed on businesses and support opening schools for full-time in-person instruction in the fall. New Jersey residents are also less likely to refuse to get the Covid-19 vaccine than the nation as a whole, according to the poll.
Overall, 58 percent of New Jersey residents say the measures Murphy took to slow the spread of coronavirus have been appropriate, while 27 percent say they went too far and 14 percent say they didn’t go far enough. Seventy-three percent said they support earlier-announced plans to loosen restrictions on outdoor gatherings while 60 percent felt the same regarding indoor gatherings.
The poll was conducted largely before Murphy announced earlier this week that he would lift indoor capacity limits for restaurants, gyms, businesses and churches, though still require social distancing.
Republicans have been critical of Murphy in recent months, arguing he has been slow to ease restrictions on businesses and schools and have gone after him over deaths in long-term care facilities.
On other issues, 63 percent of residents surveyed reported receiving at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 7 percent said they hope to get one soon. Fourteen percent said they want to “see how it goes” before getting the vaccine and 14 percent said they “likely will never get a vaccine.”
A Monmouth University survey from last month found 21 percent of the nation’s residents outright opposed vaccines.
Thus far, nearly 7.3 million vaccines have been administered in New Jersey and more than 3.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated. Murphy has said he wants 4.7 million people, or 70 percent of the state’s eligible population, fully vaccinated by the end of June.
The New Jersey survey did not find a significant difference in vaccine hesitancy between white residents and those from minority backgrounds, but 66 percent of whites reported getting the vaccine compared to 58 percent of people of color, suggesting a discrepancy based on access instead of attitudes.
“Looking at the differences in attitudes among New Jersey’s diverse communities, we may need to focus more on access than opposition to explain the varying vaccination rates,” Monmouth University Poll Director Patrick Murray said in a statement that accompanied the survey results.
According to the poll, 79 percent of New Jerseyans are either somewhat or very satisfied with the way the vaccine has been rolled out. At the same time, 52 percent say the pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has not made them less comfortable about getting inoculated while 32 percent said it made them less comfortable about that specific vaccine. Just 14 percent said the J&J pause has made them less comfortable with all of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Despite the general acceptance of the vaccine, 65 percent of the parents surveyed said they would oppose requiring it for children to attend school if the vaccine is approved for them. New Jerseyans as a whole, however, narrowly favor requiring vaccines for schoolchildren, 50 percent to 46 percent.
Fifty-three percent of residents and 57 percent of parents of children under 18 say school should be fully in-person in the fall, while 33 percent and 37 percent, respectively, want schools to operate with a hybrid model. Just 7 percent of residents and 9 percent of parents want schools to operate remote-only. Fewer than 20 New Jersey school districts are still offering remote-only learning.
The Monmouth University Polling Institute surveyed 706 New Jersey adults by telephone from April 29 to May 4. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.