No Traction for Challengers
Half (49%) of New Jersey’s voters say the state is off on the wrong track. But they don’t necessarily conclude that the Republicans have the answer. According to the most recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, 57% of likely voters rate Governor Codey’s performance as good or excellent; 43% say they’ll vote for Democratic candidates for the state assembly while only 33% say they’ll vote for Republican candidates; and in the race for governor, Democrat Jon Corzine leads by a margin of 43% to 36% over Republican Doug Forrester, with 10% unsure and 4% scattered among “other” candidates. When leaners are included, Corzine’s margin over Forrester grows to 48% to 38%.
“Senator Corzine maintains what has practically become a standard margin for Democrats in this state,” said Peter Woolley, professor of political science and director of the poll. “Despite that many people seem fed up with the direction of the state, they’re apparently not willing to turn matters over to the Republican party.”
A majority rate the Democratic acting governor’s performance as “good” or “excellent” while only 8% rate him as “poor.” Moreover, half of Republicans (49%) rate the governor’s performance as “good” or “excellent.” The governor maintains a ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion of 3 to 1, which outpaces the favorable/unfavorable ratio of the Democratic candidate for governor. “One wonders whether it’s Codey who has the coattails in this race,” added Woolley.
While the Republican challenger has eliminated the gap in name recognition between himself and Senator Corzine, 30% of those who recognize Doug Forrester say they have no opinion--favorable or unfavorable--of him. “This number is essentially unchanged since July and reflects the difficulty Republicans have had getting traction in this campaign,” added Woolley. “It also represents an opportunity for both sides. Forrester can still define himself with positive campaigning or the Democrats can define Forrester with negative campaigning.”
“If Forrester is to close the gap he must convince voters that Corzine will be ineffective and that Doug Forrester will get the job done,” said Woolley. But asked which candidate “can do something about high property taxes,” the Republican candidate’s number one issue, voters split 33% for Corzine and 28% for Forrester while one in five (19%) says “neither.” Asked which candidate has the background and experience to be a good governor, less than half (46%) of Republicans choose Forrester while two-thirds (66%) of Democrats say Corzine. “Even after a very good performance in the recent debate, the Republican base is not as enthusiastic as they need to be in order to make it a tight race,” said Woolley.
Two-thirds of voters, including 58% of Republicans, expect that Corzine will win the race. However, nearly two-thirds (63%) also expect the contest will be close.
The PublicMind poll of 635 registered, likely voters statewide was conducted from September 21 through September 26 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
Bruce Larson 973.769.1401
Peter Woolley 973.670.3239
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