McCain and Palin Bounce in New Jersey

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Republican Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin got a Jersey bounce following the widely viewed Republican nominating convention but continue to trail Democratic Sen. Barack Obama in the Garden State. The latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll show Obama leading among likely voters by 47% to 41%.

“McCain and Palin dominated the news last week, so I would expect his numbers to peak,” said Peter Woolley, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and director of the poll. “He shored up his support in New Jersey, and he needed to do that. But he did not cut into his opponent’s support.”

Neither candidate cuts into the other’s party base; each wins 85% of their partisans. The Republican nominee’s strongest demographics are older, white voters as well as men. McCain loses in every age category under 60 but edges Obama among those 60 and older and is preferred by a five to four margin among white voters.  Men prefer McCain by almost a five to four margin (49%-42%) but women prefer Obama by about a five to three margin (51%-33%).

Four of five Republican voters (78%) say Gov. Sarah Palin was a good choice as the nominee for vice president. Only one in five Democrats (22%) agree, and just half of independents (49%) agree.  Sen. Joe Biden fares better as four of five Democrats (78%) say he is a good choice as nominee for vice president while a majority of independents (61%) and about half of Republicans (48%) agree.  Moreover, a majority of women (63%) say that Biden is a good choice but they split on Palin, with 40% saying she’s a good choice but 36% saying she is not.

“Sarah Palin has done the job of satisfying the party faithful and attracting lots of attention,” said Woolley. “But there is no evidence that she has attracted disaffected Clinton supporters or independents.”  Eight of ten (81%) who say they supported Sen. Hillary Clinton in last February’s primary election say they prefer Obama over McCain.

For the first time since April 2005 a majority of voters (52%) say the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going “fairly well” or “very well.” Nearly one-third of Democrats agree, as well as a majority of independents, and four of five Republicans.  Opinions of how well the military effort is going have improved despite that a majority of voters (63%) continue to say the war was a mistake and just one in four voters (28%) say it was the right thing to do.

“Iraq has become a signature issue for both candidates,” said Woolley. “But as the Republican and a supporter of the military effort, McCain is the candidate who will more directly benefit or lose as the public perceptions of the war change.”

Still hurting the Republican nominee is that only 22% of voters say they approve of the job President Bush is doing while 71% disapprove. Only half of Republican voters (48%) approve of the president’s performance, while 41% disapprove along with three-quarters of independents (75%) and most Democrats (94%).

Only 19% of likely voters say that the country is moving in the right direction, and nearly three in four (72%) say the country is headed in the wrong direction.  While most Democrats (87%) and a large majority of independents (70%) say the country is on the wrong track, Republicans by a five to three margin (52%-33%) agree.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 872 likely voters statewide was conducted by telephone from Sept. 4, 2008 through Sept. 7, 2008 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Contacts: Dan Cassino 973.896.7072;   Peter Woolley: 973.670, 3239

For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.

Copyright © 2008, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 080909]