“Richard Who?” Weighs in as Underdog

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Two months into his administration, a third of New Jersey voters still don’t recognize the name of the Acting Governor and Senate President.  According to the most recent survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, 35% of the public say they haven’t heard of Richard Codey.  Former Governor McGreevey achieved 100% name recognition at the time of his resignation last August.

Moreover, 45% of voters think the state is “off on the wrong track” compared to 40% who say the state is headed in the right direction, numbers very similar to a year ago when Governor McGreevey was about give what turned out to be his last State of the State Address.

On the bright side, 48% of those who report they have heard of the Acting Governor say they have a favorable opinion of him and only 7% say they have an unfavorable opinion of him. That translates into a formidable 7:1 ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion. The rest, 44%, have as yet no opinion, favorable or unfavorable.  “The good news for Codey is that he has a clean slate to work with and a fair amount of good will,” said Bruce Larson, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and survey analyst for the PublicMind. “The bad news is he has little time to do it in.”

When asked to rate the Acting Governor’s job performance, 30% say they’re not sure and only 3% give him a rating of “poor.”  Even Republicans give Codey the benefit of the doubt with only 3% rating his performance as poor.

“Codey has had something of a honeymoon period since he took the reigns in November; expect that to end as we move into the new year and he attempts to tackle the state’s significant budget woes. And, if Codey decides to run for a full term, he’ll be competing against a much better known—and much better financed—Democratic rival in the primary,” added Larson.

The only Democrat to declare himself a candidate for Governor at this point, Senator Jon Corzine, is recognized by 90% of Garden State voters: 53% of those say they have a favorable view of him and 21% say they have an unfavorable view, a 2:1 favorable to unfavorable ratio. Another 26% say they have no opinion either way.

Rob Andrews, who has not announced he will run for governor but has expressed some interest in the job (and lost the 1997 Democratic primary race to Jim McGreevey), is not recognized by 71% of Garden state voters. Only 29% say they have heard of him and 40% of those have no opinion, favorable or unfavorable of him.

Asked whether they would rather see Jon Corzine or Richard Codey win the Democratic nomination for governor in June, Corzine and Codey fall into a dead heat among all voters, with 32% preferring Corzine, 33% preferring Codey and 29% saying they don’t know. But Democrats prefer Corzine over Codey by 42%-28% and Democrats who report they have voted in a primary election before pick Corzine by 44%-30%.

“There’s no doubt who is the underdog in this unofficial contest right now,” said Larson. “But Codey’s State of the State address will help set the tone for the governor’s race in both the primary and general election.”

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll of 800 registered voters statewide was conducted from January 2 to January 9 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Poll Analysis


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Copyright © 2005, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 050110]