Response by Stephen Salmore
Bennett is clearly in trouble in this usually Republican district. Although Karcher’s lead is within the margin of error and the race should be seen as a dead heat, it is very difficult for a well known incumbent to win over undecided voters. Most voters who are undecided at this point in a campaign are leaning to voting against the incumbent or just not voting. Bennett’s best chance for winning over these voters is to convince them that his opponent is less acceptable than he is. We should expect sharp attacks on Karcher to dominate the remainder of the campaign.
With the Senate evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, the loss of even a single seat can have major consequences. However, Republican troubles in the 12th District will not affect their chances in other districts. And in these other districts, Republican candidates will be able to use Gov. McGreevey’s problems the focus of voter concerns.
Comment by Fairleigh Dickinson University Research Professor of Political Science, Stephen Salmore (Ph.D., Princeton University). Steve specializes in both national and New Jersey politics and presently operates Raritan Associates, Inc. He is co-author of Parties, Elections and Campaigns and New Jersey Government and Politics. Dr. Stephen Salmore can be reached at 973-292-3633.