The Battle for New Jersey ’05

With six days remaining in the 2005 election, the race for Governor is headed toward the Likely Democratic column — although it’s not there just yet. A new Quinnipiac University poll has Jon Corzine leading Doug Forrester by 12 points (although most other independent polls have that number about five points less); the bad news for Republicans is that New Jersey voters now say Corzine is the better candidate on Forrester’s two top issues: property taxes and ethics reform. Speculation among political insiders that there was something out there that could hurt Corzine’s chances has not materialized — the best the GOP has right now are some gossip column quotes from a New York newspaper and a pair of tough lines from the Senator’s ex-wife in today’s New York Times — hardly enough to sink the Democratic campaign. There is some disagreement within the Forrester campaign over their closing message: they have a commercial featuring Forrester’s daughter, but the candidate is resisting a push from some of his consultants to use the spot. Corzine is winning the battle of the millionaires — last week he put another $6 million into his campaign, while Forrester wrote a $2.5 million check. Forrester seems to have offended some conservative activists over the last two weeks, although there was no evidence of that in today’s poll. There is a general assumption among insiders of both parties that the Democrats have a considerable edge on election day; their GOTV operation is more sophisticated — they have significantly more paid staff and volunteers, and more money for earmarked for the turnout operation. Four years ago, a Quinnipiac poll released seven days before the election had James E. McGreevey leading Bret Schundler by seventeen percentage points, 52%-35%. The day before the election, Quinnipiac had a final poll showing McGreevey ahead 48%-39%. McGreevey won the election by fourteen points, 56%-42%. Over the last seven days, three independent polls — Quinnipiac, The Record, and WNBC/Marist — had Corzine at the 50% mark, but the reality is Corzine never really needs to get to 50% to win the election; the eight independent candidates, including two that have qualified for matching funds and participated in the gubernatorial debate, will probably get one or two percent of the vote — as they historically do in New Jersey. The Battle for New Jersey ’05

The Battle for New Jersey ’05