Poll finds NJ casino-expansion ballot question about to go down in flames
When New Jersey voters head to the polls in November they’ll be asked to decide two constitutional amendment ballot questions.
One is on casino expansion outside of Atlantic City; the other asks voters whether all revenue from the recently enacted gas tax increase should be dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for all road and bridge repair and construction work.
In a just-released Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, voters give a resounding thumbs down to the casino expansion question.
“Right now barely a quarter, or 24 percent, say they would vote to approve the amendment that would allow casinos into parts of Northern New Jersey, with a full 70 percent who say they are opposed,” said Krista Jenkins, a professor of political science and director of the FDU PublicMind poll.
She noted opinions have not changed much since June, the last time voters were asked the same question.
“Back in June a third said they were in favor, with 58 percent who were opposed,” she said. “We find that opposition to this amendment is also widespread even among those who have visited a casino being opposed to the expansion.”
She explained voters oppose the amendment for two main reasons.
“The first is a belief the state already has enough casinos. We found that 36 percent gave us that answer. And the second most-common response given is the harm that they have already caused to Atlantic City — 26 percent said that’s what really concerns them about the expansion.”
The poll finds12 percent fear additional congestion to an already congested state, 8 percent believe casinos bring crime, and 7 percent say they’re unsure where the additional casinos would be located.
“When over a third of voters believe their casino fix is already taken care of by what’s here, and worry that more will do to other communities what the casinos did to Atlantic City, the ‘more is better’ argument is really turning out to be a tough sell to the public,” said Jenkins.
Turning to the other question, she said the survey found “just over half, 53 percent of registered voters, reject the recent gas tax increase and opinion is divided over dedicating all gas tax money to the TTF: 46 percent say they favor the amendment and 39 percent who say they are opposed.
Jenkins said this most recent poll did not ask voters why they would oppose dedicating all gas tax funds to the TTF, but she noted in the past voters voiced concern about raising the gas tax at all because of fears it would not be used for its intended purpose.
The FDU poll was conducted over landline and cellular telephones on Oct. 12 to 16 among a random sample of 848 registered voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.
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