A plurality of Garden State voters say Acting Governor Richard Codey is the best choice to succeed Governor-elect Jon Corzine as U.S. Senator. According to the most recent results from the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, 40% of voters select Codey from a suggested slate of six Democrats, including Rob Andrews, Bob Menendez, Frank Pallone, Rush Holt and Nia Gill.
Codey appeals almost as well to independent voters (37%) and Republicans (39%) as he does to Democrats (42%). Counting first and second mentions, Codey garners a majority of preferences (54%).
The accidental Governor also racks up a rarified 6:1 ratio of favorable-to-unfavorable opinion, with nearly two-thirds of voters who know him saying they have a somewhat or very favorable opinion of him. “There are governors and senators all over the country who'd like a little of this Jersey magic,” said Peter Woolley, professor of comparative politics and director of PublicMind.
Governor-elect Corzine's favorable ratio is just 4:3, essentially unchanged from measurements taken during the bruising election campaign.
Preferences for other Democrats who have expressed interest in the appointment to the Senate post or have been mentioned for the job range from 10% for Rob Andrews and 9% for Bob Menendez to just 1% for State Senator Nia Gill. Even after growing public discussion of the question of whom to appoint to succeed Corzine in the Senate, a quarter of voters (27%) express no preference. “The voters like Dick Codey,” said Woolley. “But the voters by default are giving the governor-elect a good deal of latitude in his choice of a U.S. Senator for New Jersey.”
A majority of Garden State voters (53%) continue to say the state is on the wrong track. Nonetheless, this number is improved from the 62% who just before the election said the state was going the wrong way. Only a third of voters (32%) say the state is headed in the right direction, but this is also an improvement from late in the campaign when only about one in five voters (22%) said the state was going in the right direction.
“One of the by-products of the recent campaign was its negative advertising,” said Woolley. “Those negative ads gave voters an even grimmer picture of the state and its politics than they usually get.”
The PublicMind poll of 535 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from November 15 through November 20 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
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