The race for governor is getting closer: a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Republican Christopher Christie with a four-point lead over Democrat Jon Corzine, 43%-39%, among likely voters. Independent Christopher Daggett is at 13%.
Christie led 47%-37%-9% on September 1, and 46%-40%-7% on August 7.
Corzine continues to have upside-down approval ratings. He's now at 36%-58%, just slightly better than the 34%-60% approval rating earlier this month. His favorables are upside-down at 34%-56%, almost identical to his 34%-57% on September 1.
New Jerseyans are now split on Christie's favorables, 38%-38%. He was at 41%-30% in the last poll.
New Jersey voters split 38 – 38 percent in whether they have a favorable/unfavorable opinion of Christie, his worst measure of favorability so far. More than eight out of ten voters (84%) still don't know much about Daggett, whose poll numbers have nearly doubled since August.
"Christopher Christie is still ahead in the Garden State, but when he looks in the rear-view mirror, he sees the bearded visage of Gov. Jon Corzine getting closer," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "This race looks as if it will go down to the wire. Does Christopher Daggett's impressive climb measure a swing to him or simply a distaste for the two guys hollering at each other? Will Daggett fade on Election Day? At this stage, his numbers matter."
Among independents, Christie leads Corzine 45%-32%, with 16% for Daggett. On September 1, Christie led 46%-30%, with Daggett also at 16%. Corzine's approvals among independents are also upside-down, 31%-61%.
Corzine has a 71%-10%-11% among Democrats, while Christie has a 83%-6%-9% lead among Republicans.
In an open-ended question, where likely voters can give any answer, 41% of respondents said taxes were the most important campaign issue, and 17% said the economy or unemployment. Just 4% said corruption was their #1 issue.
More than six out of ten voters (61%) say that property taxes will go up during Corzine's second term, while 32% believe they will remain the same. Under Christie, it's 34% up, 46% stay the same.
"The attack-attack-attack style of this rugged campaign is taking a toll on Christie, whose favorability and honesty measures are dropping," Carroll said. "But the Republican is the big winner when voters turn their attention to the biggest campaign issue
Voters are split on the question of personal integrity: 44%-45% on whether Corzine is honest and trustworthy, and 37%-36% on Christie. From September 1, that represents an improvement for Corzine, who was upside-down at 40%-51%, and a drop for Christie, who was at 44%-31% just 29 days ago.
By an 85%-11% margin, New Jerseyans support a cap on property tax increases. Support for the cap is over 80% in every voter group. But by a 54%-39% margin, voters oppose increases to the sales tax or state income tax in order to fund property tax relief.
"New Jersey's property taxes are high and voters want to cap the increase, but they don't want to raise other taxes to do it," Carroll said.
Quinnipiac University polled 1,188 likely New Jersey voters from September 23-28. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8%.