Is NJ safe? How residents feel in different neighborhoods
Overall, New Jersey residents give positive ratings to the towns and neighborhoods in which they live, according to a poll released on Tuesday.
But the same poll finds those views vary drastically between groups.
In the latest Rutgers-Eagelton poll, seven in 10 New Jersey adults say their town is either an "excellent" or "good" place to live. An even greater number say the same about their neighborhood.
At the same time, residents overwhelmingly feel safe in their neighborhood at night and even safer during the day.
"When we drill further down into the overall positive ratings of one's local area and feelings of safety, it looks like more of a tale of two New Jerseys," said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University.
According to the poll, white residents are about 20 points more likely than Black residents and Hispanic residents to rate their towns or cities positively.
And Black and Hispanic residents are less likely than white residents to say they feel "very safe" in their neighborhood, by double digits, according to the poll.
Compared with 77% of white residents, 61% of Black individuals say they "feel safe" during the day. About a third of Hispanics feel "very safe" at night, along with 48% of Black residents, compared to 57% of whites.
"Those who feel safer in their town, city, or neighborhood tend to view the area more positively than those who don't feel as safe," said Jessica Roman, a research association at the Eagleton Center. "We can infer that, unsurprisingly, feelings of safety play a role in how people feel about where they live."
Views differ by more than race and ethnicity. Adults in the lowest income bracket, as well as those with a high school education or less, are less likely than their counterparts to view their municipalities and neighborhoods as "excellent" or "good" places to live. And residents living in urban areas of the state are less likely to offer positive ratings than those in other regions.
Is your town any safer today?
When asked how crime today in their neighborhood compares to five years ago, 30% of New Jersey adults said it has gotten worse. Ten percent said it has gotten better.
Folks in urban areas, those in lower income households, and younger residents are all more likely than their counterparts to say that they have seen improvement in crime in their area.
At 42%, Republicans are the most likely partisans to say crime has gotten worse. Sixty-two percent of Democrats said crime has stayed the same over the past five years.
Seven percent of New Jersey residents are "very worried" that they will become a victim of a crime. Another 33% are "somewhat worried." Republicans (52%) are more likely to say they are worried about being a victim of a crime than either independents or Democrats.
"Much like everything else, perceptions of safety and crime have also become influenced by partisanship," Koning said. "Partisan differences are unsurprising given the emphasis the Republican party has put on law and order issues in recent election cycles."
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Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt