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One in five New Jersey residents crave re-connecting with loved ones, the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found.

“Hug my parents”; “kiss my wife”; “hold someone’s hand.” When asked about the first thing they will do when life in New Jersey returns to normal, one in five residents (20%) crave re-connecting with loved ones, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Similar numbers want to simply go to a different place other than their house, such as the gym; or do familiar pre-pandemic activities, like shopping.

Just over one in 10 want to eat out – a wish that will be granted to some extent with the introduction of outdoor dining this week. Others just want to get back to work (7%), go on vacation or to the shore (each at 6%), or simply get a haircut (3%).

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Women (26%) and millennials (24%) are some of the top groups most likely to want to interact with family and friends. Those most affected by the pandemic in terms of work are especially eager to get back to it, such as non-white residents (11%), millennials (10%), and those in the lowest income bracket (15%).

“New Jerseyans are longing for human connection and a return to the ordinary after almost three months of the pandemic,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Yet despite this yearning for normalcy, our polling has shown that New Jerseyans do not expect things to be fully back to normal anytime soon and are still worried about what the future of the pandemic may bring.”

Unsurprisingly, New Jerseyans express immense gratitude when asked what they would like to say to health care workers, first responders, and essential workers in the Garden State. Fifty-six percent of residents express some form of thanks, another 16% praise the job these workers are doing, and 9% offer their thoughts and prayers. “You are true heroes,” one resident said. Another noted, “We owe them everything.” Some respondents expressed pride, the need for hazard pay for essential workers, and advocated for wearing masks and staying home in their honor. A respondent who is an essential worker returned the gratitude, wanting to “thank everyone.”

Most New Jerseys are doing well during this pandemic. When asked to describe in one word how they feel, 29% claim they are “doing great”; another 22% are “all right,” and 8% say they are “okay.” Another one in five feel more negative – scared or anxious (5%), tired (5%), annoyed or angry (4%), awful (4%), or stressed (4%).

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,502 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from April 22 – May 2. The full sample has a margin of error of +/-2.9 percentage points; the subsamples of 747 and 755 adults each have a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.


Click Here to View the Full Release, Questions, and Tables.

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