According to a recent internal poll paid for by Democratic Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney and obtained by PolitickerNJ, the hotly contested race may be tightening.
But the challenger’s camp, whose own poll shows Republican Kathe Donovan with a runaway lead, is not so sure.
The McNerney poll, conducted August 9 through the 12th shows the Democratic incumbent down four points with just over two months to go in his reelection bid. The margin of error in the poll is 3 percent.
Of 600 likely voters polled, 47 percent said they would vote for Republican challenger Kathe Donovan if the “election were held today,” versus 43 percent for McNerney. A total of 11 percent of those polled said they were undecided on the race.
When asked opinions of the two candidates, the numbers are similar. Asked to rate McNerney, 11 percent had a very favorable opinion and 36 percent had a somewhat favorable rating for a total favorable of 47 percent. One third of those polled said they couldn’t rate the county executive.
For Donovan, 18 percent had a very favorable opinion and 33 percent had a somewhat favorable opinion of the Republican, putting her at 51 percent favorable. A full 38 percent said they couldn’t rate Donovan.
Both candidates’ favorable opinions have risen since a similar poll was conducted six months ago as has the number of people with unfavorable opinions of the two. One in five of those polled said they have either a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of the Democrat, versus just over 1 in 10 for Donovan.
McNerney fared better than Donovan in name identification as two thirds of respondents recognized the county executive versus 62 percent who could identify Donovan.
Asked to rate the jobs they are doing in their respective county posts, 60 percent of respondents approved of the job Donovan is doing versus just 10 percent who disapprove. McNerney posted a 48 percent approval rating versus 28% who disapprove.
Other public officials appearing in the poll include President Obama and Gov. Chris Christie. Both men fared well in Bergen County, with the president gaining a 51 percent job approval rating versus 48 percent who disapprove and the governor posting a 55 percent approval rating versus just 42 percent who disapprove. Nationwide, Obama’s approval rating stands at 46 percent as of the latest Gallup poll. In an August Quinnipiac poll, Christie’s job approval stood at 51 percent.
The numbers are far better for McNerney than an internal poll released by the Donovan camp in July. According to Donovan’s polling the county clerk was ahead by 12 points over McNerney. That poll also showed Obama with a 37 percent approval rating.
Asked to respond to the recent numbers, the Donovan camp was incredulous.
“We are very confident that Kathe’s poll of late July accurately reflected the mood of voters then and, frankly, now,” said Communications Director Jeanne Baratta. “She was up 12 points in that poll. What’s happened since? Nothing good for McNerney. The only way McNerney is 4 points down is if the polling universe is his immediate family”
Baratta cites the recent indictment of McNerney appointed Bergen County Improvement Authority director and the runaway spending on a county park.
The McNerney camp stood by the numbers, saying they show that the incumbent’s message is starting to resonate.
“The race has tightened significantly because residents in Bergen County are beginning to see that Dennis McNerney and Bergen County Democrats are fighting for Bergen taxpayers,” said spokesman Sean Darcy. “Kathe Donovan has been a politician holding elected office for decades and has a long, storied history of awful fiscal management with taxpayer dollars. Over the next two months, we will be discussing the huge disparity between both candidates for County Executive and delivering our message to voters across the county.”