(Christian Wade, The Center Square) — New Jersey Democrats are vulnerable to voter concerns about parental control in public schools and it could hurt them in the next election, according to a new poll.
A new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University found that the issue of parental control makes New Jersey voters six points more likely to say that they’ll support the Republican candidate in the next election and nine points less likely to support the Democratic candidate.
“I’ve been running survey experiments in NJ political polls for almost 20 years, and we’ve never gotten an effect as big as we see from asking about parental control of schools,” FDU professor and poll director Dan Cassino posted on social media. “This issue is just devastating for Democrats on the generic ballot.”
In November, all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly and the 40 seats in the State Senate will be up for election, the pollsters noted.
In the 2021 elections, Republicans gained six seats in the General Assembly, and even though that ballot also featured a gubernatorial election, only 40% of eligible voters cast a ballot. In the 2019 race, the last time an election was headlined by state legislative elections, turnout was just 27%.
“This issue is doing a lot to move independents into the Republican column,” Cassino. “The question, though, is whether those independent voters can be mobilized in what’s normally a very low turnout election.”
New Jersey Republicans have been hammering away at Democrats over the issue of parental rights, with the state’s Democratic Attorney General fighting in court with schools over transgender curriculums and other thorny social issues.
They seized on the poll’s findings, claiming it shows that Democrats are out of touch with the majority of the state’s voters on the issue of parental rights.
“This poll reaffirms what Republicans have been advocating for all along and supports the reforms that we have sponsored to address the desire of parents to have a say in their children’s education,” Senate Republican Leader Anthony Bucco. “Trenton Democrats have provided nothing but lip service on these issues.”
In the poll, Cassino said Republican attacks on parental control cut into Democrat’s margins substantially, potentially putting their control of the General Assembly at risk.
“Republican candidates are using these attacks because they work,” he said. “If voters are thinking about parental control of schools when they go to the ballot box, Democrats are in real trouble.”
But Cassino said the poll findings isn’t all bad news for New Jersey Democrats. Gov. Phil Murphy’s job approval has remained stable since a May poll, with 44% of residents — including 73% of Democrats — saying they approve of the job he’s doing as chief executive, up from a 40% approval rating a year ago.