Obama Expands Lead in New Jersey

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With Election Day five days away, the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll show Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama expanding his commanding lead in the Garden State. The Illinois senator now leads Republican nominee John McCain by 18 points: Obama holds the support of 53% of likely voters, compared to 35% for McCain. In PublicMind’s last poll, carried out earlier in the month, Obama held a 13-point lead.

The depth of Obama’s support is seen clearly in young voters: four of five likely voters under the age of 30 say they will cast their ballots for Obama. By way of comparison, only about 60% of young voters planned to cast ballots for Democratic Senator Bob Menendez in 2006.

“Republicans should find this youth vote very troubling,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and survey analyst for the PublicMind poll. “Young people traditionally don’t vote as much as older groups. But political preferences, once set, are tough to change. A strong advantage among young people today can translate to a big shift toward Democrats in the future.”

In addition, McCain’s appeals to former supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton have had no measurable impact: 85% of those who say they voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary election now say that they are voting for Obama, a figure indistinguishable from his 88% support among those who voted for other candidates.  “From the beginning, the McCain campaign hoped to use disgruntled Clinton supporters to their advantage. If McCain’s strategy in picking Governor Palin for his running mate was to win over former Clinton supporters, Garden State women are clearly not impressed,” said Cassino.

McCain runs even with Obama among white voters. Only among white men does McCain have a lead.

Voters say this election is important: 47% of voters say that the outcome will have “a lot” of impact on their life while only 9% say it will have no impact at all.  A majority (57%) also say that the outcome of the election will have “a lot” of impact on New Jersey.  “Voters are worried about the economy and their prosperity, and that increases their stake in the election,” said Cassino.  Fewer than one in three voters (31%) say that the economy will be doing better six months from now.  Further, 35% are somewhat or very worried about losing their jobs in the coming year.

“While there is some genuine enthusiasm for both candidates, we can’t forget that President Bush is a large part of this election,” added Cassino. “Some of the passion flows from voter dissatisfaction with the president and the state of the country.”

Only 13% of respondents say that the country is moving in the right direction — another new low in this measure during the Bush administration — while 78% say the country is on the wrong track. This “wrong track” figure includes most Democrats (82%) and independents (80%), but even Republicans agree by a 4:1 margin. Finally, only about 16% of voters – including just 37% of Republicans and one in eight independents – approve of the job President George Bush is doing. 

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 852 likely voters statewide was conducted by telephone from Oct. 23, 2008 through Oct. 29, 2008 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Contacts: Dan Cassino 973.896.7072; Peter Woolley: 973.670.3239; Krista Jenkins 973.443.8390

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

Copyright © 2008, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 081031]