Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has opened up a 24-point lead over Republican challenger Jeffrey Bell less than two weeks before the Nov. 4 election, according to a Stockton Polling Institute poll released today.
Booker leads 57 percent to 33 percent for Bell when voters who are leaning toward one candidate or the other are included. Five percent are unsure, with 5 percent voting for another candidate, nobody, or not expressing a choice. The lead marks a substantial increase for Booker over earlier Stockton polls, which found leads of 9 percent and 13 percent for Booker. The most recent Stockton Poll of Oct. 9 had Booker leading 48 percent to 39 percent.
Both candidates have the support of their party bases – 91 percent of Democrats for Booker and 82 percent of Republicans for Bell.
The Stockton Poll shows unaffiliated voters are breaking for Booker by a margin of more than 2 to 1 (53 percent to 24 percent).
The statewide survey of 806 likely New Jersey voters was conducted by the Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy. Live interviewers on The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey campus called both landlines and cell phones from Oct. 18-22, 2014. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Sixty-four percent of voters have a favorable view of Booker, the former mayor of Newark, and 23 percent view him unfavorably. Thirty-five percent have a favorable view of Bell while 27 percent view him unfavorably. But 37 percent remain unfamiliar with him or unsure about how they feel. That percentage is down from 43 percent in a Stockton Poll released Oct. 9. Only 13 percent are unfamiliar with or unsure about Booker.
“This is late in the game for the challenger to still be introducing himself to the voters,” said Daniel Douglas, director of the Hughes Center. “It may be impossible at this point to overcome Booker’s advantage in fund-raising, name recognition, and party registration.”
The Democrat is drawing support from across demographic groups, leading among all age groups, racial and ethnic categories, income levels and education levels. Booker is supported by more than 50 percent of both men and women.
Fifty-three percent rate Booker’s job performance in the Senate as excellent or good, slightly higher than the 50 percent found in two previous Stockton Polls.