Don’t Know the Republican Senate Nominee

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According to the most recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind “don’t know” has a commanding lead of 77% in the Republican contest to square off against incumbent Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg (or his Democratic replacement) in November.

The Republican candidates remain largely unknown two months before the June primary. Among all voters, Joe Pennacchio is unrecognized by 77%, Murray Sabrin by 84% and Andy Unanue by 90%.

The candidates do little better among Republicans: 29% say they’ve heard of Pennacchio, 18% say they’ve heard of Sabrin, and 12% say they’ve heard of Unanue.   But in each case, the percentage of Republicans who say they know the candidate but have no opinion or an unfavorable opinion is greater than the percentage who have a favorable opinion.

“At this late date it is unusual for a state this large not to have a better known challenger for a US Senate seat,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll.  “Voters might conclude that Republicans have conceded the seat.”

“For younger Republicans this represents an opportunity,” added Woolley. “Even if they think it’s too steep a climb against the incumbent Democrat, they should want to run just for the experience.”

Lautenberg is recognized by 85% of New Jersey voters and 38% have a favorable opinion of him compared to 22% who have an unfavorable opinion of him.  Among Democrats, 43% have a favorable opinion of him while just 11% have an unfavorable opinion.

When asked who they would select in the primary an overwhelming proportion of Republican voters (77%) said they didn’t know and couldn’t choose. Pennacchio got 13%, Sabrin 5% and Unanue 2%.

Asked who he thought might win the Republican nod in June, Woolley said, “don’t know.”

Contact: 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 080402]