Pennacchio internal polling shows dead heat in GOP Senate primary

Joe Pennacchio’s campaign has released internal polling numbers showing a dead heat in the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in next week’s primary election. Pennacchio and Dick Zimmer are tied at 20%, with Murray Sabrin at 4%, according to a Pennacchio poll conducted by Neighborhood Research. But the poll shows Pennacchio making strong gains over the last two weeks, when Zimmer led 23%-7%, with 4% for Sabrin. “Zimmer’s prior lead was a function of superior name ID,” says pollster Rick Shaftan. “Once voters learn of Zimmer’s loss to Torricelli, his inability to win back his old house seat and his decision to side with Clinton on illegal aliens, gun control and abortion his support collapses.”

MEMORANDUM

TO: Pennacchio for Senate
FROM: Rick Shaftan, Neighborhood Research
RE: Survey, New Jersey Republican Primary voters 5/20-5/21
DATE: May 26, 2008

SUMMARY

Joe Pennacchio has surged in the last two weeks, taking a slight lead over former Congressman and defeated U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer. Pennacchio has the best favorable/unfavorable ratio of all the candidates and is poised to win the primary by a substantial majority.

BALLOT TEST

This data is compared to a sample of 306 respondents completed between May 5th and May 7th.

5/5-7 5/20-21 Two Week

N=306 N=337 Change

Joe Pennacchio 6.7% 20.0% +13.3%
Dick Zimmer 23.0% 19.6% – 3.4%
Murray Sabrin 4.3% 3.9% – 0.4%
Undecided 65.0% 56.5% – 9.5%

Zimmer’s prior lead was a function of superior name ID. Once voters learn of Zimmer’s loss to Torricelli, his inability to win back his old house seat and his decision to side with Clinton on illegal aliens, gun control and abortion his support collapses.

Pennacchio’s lead is based on a sharp improvement among conservative voters as the chart below indicates:

5/5-7 5/20-21 Two Week

N=187 (61%) N=210 (62%) Change

 

Joe Pennacchio 6.4% 25.1% +18.7%

Dick Zimmer 23.9% 18.0% – 5.9%

Murray Sabrin 6.4% 4.8% – 1.6%

Undecided 63.1% 51.9% -11.2%

Pennacchio’s paid media, particularly his radio, has helped build his base while Zimmer’s has had the opposite effect. Among the 26 percent of voters who have heard Pennacchio’s ads, he leads 51-17 while among the 15 percent of voters who have heard Zimmer’s radio ads, Pennacchio holds a 38-27 lead.

NAME ID

With the primary approaching, name ID is increasing for all candidates. In the last two weeks, favorables and unfavorables have increased as well, but Pennacchio has had the biggest increase in favorables and name ID in that time, while Zimmer’s negatives have gone up the most.

 

5/5-7 5/20-21 Two Week

N=306 N=337 Change

Fav/Unf/ID Fav/Unf/ID Fav/Unf/ID

Joe Pennacchio 6- 1-34 16- 3-62 +10/+ 2/+28
Dick Zimmer 14- 2-67 18- 8-79 + 4/+ 6/+12
Murray Sabrin 4- 5-35 6- 6-46 + 2/+ 1/+11

Those voters who have come to have an opinion of Pennacchio over the past two weeks are favorable to him by a 5 to 1 ratio. By contrast, those who have come to know of Zimmer in the past two weeks are negative by 2 to 3 ratio.

Conservatives:

5/5-7 5/20-21 Two Week

N=187 (61%) N=210 (62%) Change

Fav/Unf/ID Fav/Unf/ID Fav/Unf/ID

Joe Pennacchio 6- 0-32 19- 2-66 +13/+ 2/+34
Dick Zimmer 14- 2-63 19-10-79 + 5/+ 8/+16
Murray Sabrin 5- 4-34 8- 6-47 + 3/+ 2/+13

As with the ballot test, the biggest increases in name ID and favorables for Pennacchio and in unfavorables for Zimmer has been with conservatives. Similarly, those conservatives who have come to form an opinion of Pennacchio in the last two weeks are favorable by nearly 7 to 1, while conservatives who formed their opinion of Zimmer were negative by a large margin.

Again, this is a result in large part of Pennacchio’s aggressive radio ads defining himself as the conservative in the race. Pennacchio is 35-7 with those who have heard his radio ads and 33-6 with those who have heard Zimmer’s ads. By contrast, Zimmer is a 17-22 negative with those hearing Pennacchio ads and a poor 27-21 with those who have heard his own ads.

 

CORE SUPPORT LEVELS

Joe Pennacchio has the strongest core support level of any candidate with 77 percent of his favorables supporting him. Just 68 percent of Zimmer favorables are voting for him and only 45 percent of Sabrin favorables are backing their candidate. Zimmer’s inability to convert favorables into votes is the reason he trails Pennacchio in spite of having slightly higher favorables.

Similarly, those few who are unfavorable are split in their preferences, indicating that Zimmer’s negative attacks on the new frontrunner won’t necessarily help the former Congressman, who wins just 44 percent of Pennacchio unfavorables. By contrast, 76 percent of Zimmer unfavorables are voting for Pennacchio.

CONCLUSION

Dick Zimmer is in deep trouble. His weak base allowed Pennacchio to make this a contest of philosophy versus personality and Pennacchio’s media campaign has allowed him to make this a two man contest as Sabrin’s supporters drift away. Pennacchio’s favorables will continue to increase as he continues to motivate conservative voters looking for a winner and who see in Dick Zimmer a bored, tired and defeated former elected official.

METHODOLOGY

Neighborhood Research completed 337 surveys of Republicans who had voted in two of the last three primary elections and say they were planning on voting in the 2008 GOP Primary. Surveys were completed on May 20th and 21st and the theoretical margin of error is +/- 5.3% in 95 percent of cases at a 50 percent response.

 

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Pennacchio internal polling shows dead heat in GOP Senate primary