What is the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll?
The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll is a statewide telephone survey that measures public opinion about politics and policy in New Jersey. Founded in 1971, the poll which is conducted by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, examines everything from job approval ratings for presidents, governors and senators to attitudes regarding property taxes, public corruption, homeland security and a host of other issues.
Eagleton faculty and staff develop the questionnaire for the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, supervise interviewers during data collection, and analyze the data for public release through news releases. Director David Redlawsk also serves as a day-to-day resource for news media, other scholars, and the public in responding to requests for data and analyses from current surveys and Eagleton’s incomparable data archive.
The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was the nation’s first university-based state survey when it was established with funding from the Wallace-Eljabar Fund in October 1971. Initially known as the New Jersey Poll, the survey’s first major finding was that, with elections for State Senate and General Assembly only two weeks off, 85 percent of adults did not know that members of the two bodies were up for election.
After some years as the Eagleton Poll, Rutgers University announced the creation of the Star-Ledger/Eagleton Poll in September 1983, reflecting an agreement to conduct four polls per year for the Star-Ledger. In 1999, “Rutgers” was added to the name of the survey. The partnership with the Star-Ledger ended in 2005, and the survey became known as the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
The poll has had seven directors over the past 44 years: Stephen Salmore (1971-1972, 1973-1975, 1976-1980), John C. Blydenburgh (1972-1973, 1975), Cliff Zukin (1980-1988, 1998-2001, 2002-2004), Janice Ballou (1989-1997), Jeffrey Levine (2005), Tim Vercellotti (2006-2008) and David Redlawsk (2009-present).
The poll has issued almost 900 press releases since its inception. Topics have reflected important events and issues in American history: Watergate and Vietnam in the 1970s; Iran-Contra, AIDS, and the introduction of home computers in the 1980s; the Gulf War, the expansion of the Internet, and President Clinton’s sex scandal in the 1990s; and September 11th, the Iraq War and Barack Obama’s presidency in the new millennium.
About one in every 10 releases has discussed an election of some sort, whether local, state or national. Just about one in 20 releases has focused primarily on the issue that has concerned New Jerseyans for decades: taxes. Releases have covered other classic Garden State topics as well: corruption, Atlantic City, casino gambling, the lottery, toxic and chemical waste, Jersey drivers, E-Z Pass, the Jersey shore, Hurricane Sandy and even HBO’s The Sopranos.
Since the poll’s founding, Eagleton has measured attitudes about politics, public policy, the economy and social trends in more than 150 statewide polls in New Jersey. Eagleton makes the data from the polls available about one year after the initial poll through a searchable public archive on the Web at http://eagleton.libraries.rutgers.edu/. Present and past press releases are available here.
If you have questions about the data, how to access or use it, please email us at Eagleton.Poll@rutgers.edu
For our most recent polls please click here.