For a fleeting moment last spring, New Jersey voters were telling lawmakers that they could get behind the idea of increasing the gas tax to generate revenue to fix the state’s roads and bridges. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed the support had evaporated.

(Ronira, ThinkStock)

“There was a historic but brief glimmer of support for raising New Jersey’s gasoline tax last April, but now opposition is back again to where it’s always been,” said Maurice "Mickey" Carroll, Quinnipiac University assistant poll director. “Should we raise the gasoline tax? Sixty-two (percent to) 35 percent New Jersey voters say ‘no.’”

In the April 2015 survey exactly half the respondents said they supported a gas tax increase while 47 percent said they were opposed. Carroll said Garden State voters have opposed a gas tax hike by wide margins in every other Quinnipiac survey since the question was first asked on Jan. 27, 2005.

The partisan breakdown in the latest poll was:

  • Democrats opposed a gas tax hike 50 percent to 44 percent
  • Republicans opposed it 74 percent to 24 percent
  • Independent voters were opposed 59 percent to 39 percent

“Last April, half of New Jerseyans said, ‘Yes, we could go for a gasoline tax increase,’ and this time they say, ‘No, they don’t like the idea,’” Carroll explained.

There has been open discussion about linking a gas tax increase to a reduction in a so-called death tax, but voters still said they were against a gas tax increase even if it was tied to the tax cut (56 percent to 33 percent).

“New Jersey politicians are beginning to think a gas tax hike is the only source of money to fix the state’s roads and bridges. Good luck convincing the voters,” Carroll said.

Unless a recurring source of revenue can be identified and agreed upon, the Transportation Trust Fund is on pace to go bankrupt July 1, 2016.

The poll also asked voters about the trans-Hudson rail tunnel issues. The results were:

  • 92 percent said it was "very important" or "somewhat important" to repair the existing rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan.
  • 75 percent said adding a second rail tunnel is "very important" or "somewhat important."

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez received a negative 36 percent to 42 percent approval rating in the survey and by a 53 percent to 39 percent margin Jersey voters said that he should resign.

From Nov. 4 – 8, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,456 New Jersey voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.