Who won the week?

Governor Corzine caved and agreed to participate in an October 1 debate. Two new polls showed Chris Christie maintaining a lead in the gubernatorial race despite three weeks of very bad news. Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts announced that he will retire at the end of his term, leading to speculation about who’s going to replace him and intrigue in the state Senate. Another story about Christie’s driving record came out.

So who came out of the week looking the best, or maybe the least scathed?

Brigid Harrison, political science professor at Montclair State University
Winner: Christie

“Chris Christie won the week. He remains ahead in two polls, up by 10 points in the Quinnipiac, up by five in the FDU poll (though this is less than optimal for Christie because Independent Chris Daggett was not included in the FDU poll). What we learned from this week is that the various Christie missteps (Karl Rove, Michelle Brown, and the traffic incidents) were not, in and of themselves, significant enough to cause a serious shift in voters’ opinions of Christie. But to remain ahead, Christie will need to get out in front of these issues before the Democrats package them together and spin them in a way that they do start to matter to voters.”

Joe Marbach, professor of political science at Seton Hall and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Winners: Christie and independent Christopher Daggett

“Overall, I think Christie won the week, largely on the strength of the three polls that came out – the Rasmussen, Quinnipiac and FDU that indicate his lead is holding anywhere from 5-11%.”

“I think also that Christie and Daggett won in terms of the Governor participating in the debate…. Daggett gets to participate in the debates, which puts him on the same platform as Christie and Corzine.”

Change in front office communications director “isn’t directly related to the campaign, but whenever you have an incumbent making changes in their communications staff certainly has an impact on the campaign.”

Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute
Result: draw

“Christie got a couple of polls that indicated there hasn’t been much of a dent in his lead at all, even after the news that came out in the prior weeks. But still there was a slight increase in his negative ratings, which is probably not as big as the Corzine camp would have liked to have seen.”

“On the Corzine camp, they didn’t get their way with the debate schedule, while nobody was willing to call their bluff, the strategic position was that since ELEC looked like they were willing to drag that debate out, it looked like it was going to be a negative process story… They promptly nipped it in the bud.”

Roberts retirement “could actually help Corzine.” Since labor leader/Camden County Democratic Co-Chairman Donald Norcross will probably succeed Roberts on the ballot, power broker George Norcross “would like to see probably a bigger than average margin of victory for his brother, which could mean a bigger margin of victory down there in Camden county which could help Jon Corzine.”