Poll Shows New Jerseyans Feel Most Politicians Are Shady
If you are a New Jersey resident who thinks U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is guilty of corruption as charged you are not alone, according a to new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released Thursday.
The same survey revealed that if you think most politicians are ethically challenged, you have a lot of company on that front as well.
The accusation is that Menendez took gifts, vacations and campaign donation from a close friend in exchange for using the power of his office to further the friend's business ventures.
"We find that 58 percent of adults statewide believe it's likely the senator did what is being alleged with 28 percent who say it's very likely (and) over half (56 percent) believe most politicians do the same. It's just that Menendez got caught. Only 22 percent say most politicians behave ethically," said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science at FDU and director of PublicMind.
Majorities of Democrats, Republicans, independents, men, women, whites, older residents and younger felt Menendez is guilty and that most politicians frequently abuse their power while in office.
"The public has grown almost immune to stories of unethical behavior among politicians, but one the one hand you have people who discredit the entire institution and say that they're all kind of up to no good, but then at the same time they return the same people back to congress year after year," Jenkins said.
With the charges still fresh, favorability ratings for Menendez took a hit in the new survey. Just over one year ago three-in-ten residents had a favorable opinion of him, but that number now stands at just 23 percent.
The survey revealed Garden State residents were following the Menendez situation and were aware of what it involves:
- 23 percent said they were paying close attention;
- 29 percent said they were paying some attention;
- 54 percent correctly said he is accused of taking money from a wealthy donor in exchange for political influence;
- 33 percent were unsure of the allegations;
- Seven percent incorrectly said he tried to punish someone for not making a donation.
The governor would appoint a replacement if Menendez was forced to leave office before his term expired. The results indicated that New Jersey residents did not have a clear favorite for a fill-in senator:
- 30 percent said someone from the state legislature should replace Menendez;
- 24 percent said someone currently in Congress;
- 38 percent said they didn't know who should replace him;
- 69 percent said it didn't matter if it was a male or female replacement.
The poll of 911 New Jersey adults was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from April 13-19. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.