OUR TURN NJ TO SUSPEND PAID MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Current Climate, Polling Data, Lack Of Specifics Make Campaign Untenable
Roseland – Paul Fireman and Jeff Gural are today reluctantly announcing the suspension of the paid media component of the statewide OUR Turn NJ campaign. In doing so, they issued the following joint statement:
“We believe deeply that gaming expansion to Northern New Jersey is a remarkable opportunity that should not be squandered. We have committed $4 billion in private investment to this state to create world class resort destinations with gaming. The benefits include 43,000 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in recaptured revenue -- a rare opportunity for New Jersey. In addition, as New York debates allowing gaming in New York City, it is critical that we beat them to market or risk losing this opportunity permanently.
“The data, however, speaks for itself. The current political climate in New Jersey and voters’ concerns about the lack of details relating to the effort have proved overwhelming. Even knowing that an out-of-country gaming company that sends New Jerseyans’ gaming dollars to Malaysia is funding opposition ads does not have an impact. As such, with great reluctance we have decided to suspend the paid media component of the statewide campaign.”
Recent internal and third-party polling data have noted how difficult the current climate is. As noted in the attached internal polling summary, “Voters have a very negative outlook on the direction of the state and have extremely low confidence that the revenue promised in the Casino Expansion Amendment will be delivered as it is promised. Just 19% of New Jersey voters believe that the state is headed in the right direction. And an even lower proportion (10%) have a high level of confidence that the state will deliver upon the promised revenue as stated in the ballot measure.”
The summary also notes that when asked to explain why they have low or no confidence in the revenue being delivered as promised in the amendment, 50% of respondents say it is because politicians will use the funds for their own priorities, while another 30% volunteer that it is a concern for them.
The polling shows that, while there are strong arguments to be made for the benefits of gaming expansion, “Respondents react very strongly to reasons to oppose the Amendment, which play to the lack of specifics and distrust directed at state government in Trenton. For comparison, the highest testing positive message is viewed as a very strong reason to support the measure by 48% of voters. The four negative messages tested in the survey all receive anywhere between 56% to 60% of voters who say that each one is a very strong reason to oppose the measure.”
Polling released earlier this week by Rutgers-Eagleton reinforces this voter dissatisfaction. In that poll, only 25 percent of those surveyed believe New Jersey is headed in the right direction, while 68 percent say the state has gone off on the wrong track. The poll is available at: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-Christie-casinos-NJ-Booker-Menendez-Sept2016/
The current campaign to expand gaming is mirroring New Jersey’s first efforts to legalize casino gaming in 1974. In that year, the New Jersey voters rejected a ballot initiative to legalize gaming due to a lack of specifics in the ballot question about where casinos would be located. Two years later, a revised ballot question passed. One of the main reasons the 1976 question passed, unlike the 1974 one, was that it was more specific in nature. The 1974 campaign indicated that casinos would most likely be in Atlantic City, but the resolution itself did not indicate a specific location. Thus, proponents of the 1974 resolution “later admitted that a large number of voters apparently rejected the proposal simply because they did not want to see casinos in their own community.” In 1976, the resolution clearly stated that casinos would only be legal in Atlantic City, making voters far more comfortable with the idea.