Kerry Support Soft in New Jersey

see also:
Tabular Results
Survey Details
Republican Response
Democratic Response

With just a small lead at this point, Kerry still has some work to do in New Jersey. According to the most recent Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, the Democratic challenger is ahead of George W. Bush in New Jersey by just 45%-43% with another 10% undecided.

"John Kerry has been relying on George W. Bush to give people a reason to vote for the Democratic ticket," said Bruce Larson, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and survey analyst for PublicMind. "While Bush's troubles have surely rallied the Democratic base and some Democratic-leaning independents, Kerry will solidify his position in New Jersey only when he gives voters a reason to vote for him rather than just against George Bush."

Among Bush supporters, 80% say they are voting for the President rather than against his opponent. But among Kerry voters, only a third (32%) say they are voting for the Senator from Massachusetts while two-thirds say they are voting against George W. Bush. "New Jersey voters still don't know Kerry very well," added Larson. "The Democratic National Convention this week will give him the opportunity to tell voters here his story."

Bush's support in the Garden State remains level despite declines in key indicators such as the number of people who think the country is moving in the right direction and those who think the war in Iraq was the right thing to do. Voters who say the country is on the wrong track edged over the 50% mark and nearly half (48%) now say the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Bush runs stronger among men; Kerry runs stronger among women. Bush also does well among Catholics, the state's largest religious group. Kerry runs strongly among younger voters, 18-34, but they are not as dependable on election day as older voters.

When Ralph Nader is included in the mix, enough New Jersey voters defect to affect John Kerry adversely. Voters asked "if Ralph Nader was also a candidate…" re-arrange their preferences just enough to cause a dead heat, with Kerry getting 42%, Bush 41% and Nader 6%. "If Nader is on the ballot in New Jersey, and the race is very close, he could influence the outcome," added Larson. "But the 6% figure is almost certainly an over-estimate of Nader's vote, since many voters who say they intend to vote for a minor-party candidate end up supporting one of the major-party candidates once they get in the voting booth."

"New Jersey is still Kerry's to win," cautioned Larson. "A President who has not attracted the support of independent and swing voters in three and half years is unlikely to do so in his last 100 days before the election."

The PublicMind poll of 834 registered voters was conducted from July 20 to July 26 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Poll Analysis


Bruce Larson 973.443.8727

Peter Woolley 973.670.3239

Radio actuality line: (201) 692-2846.

For more information, please call (201) 692-7032.

Copyright © 2004, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 040728]