We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see the results of the Quinnipiac poll that measures Gov. Corzine’s approval rating and the Senate race between Frank Lautenberg and Dick Zimmer.
But state Senator/Essex County Republican Chairman Kevin O’Toole predicts that the poll on the Senate race will be close.
“Lautenberg has not been loved by the electorate. Look at his number. He has a 54% or 55% (approval) on his best day,” said O’Toole. “I think his best days are behind him.”
O’Toole said that, if Lautenberg is ahead, it’s only because he spent millions of dollars over the last two months on a television and radio ad blitz against Democratic primary opponent Rep. Rob Andrews.
Zimmer and Lautenberg were running almost even in a Rasmussen poll released yesterday.
O’Toole compared Zimmer to the turtle in the famous fable — “not to say that Lautenberg’s a hare” — who will slowly but surely creep up in the polls with the help of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who O’Toole expects to do well in New Jersey.
“I think Zimmer and Lautenberg are going to be neck-and-neck. If McCain comes within three points in New Jersey, Lautenberg’s in trouble. If McCain wins New Jersey, Zimmer will win.”
The poll comes shortly after the Governor made statements indicating that he plans to seek reelection in 2009.
O’Toole wouldn’t venture a guess on what Corzine’s approval numbers would be, but said that they’ve been trending downward and will likely continue.
On the other side of the aisle, Mercer County Democratic Chairman Richard McClellan said that the close Rasmussen Senate poll was “probably a fluke,” and that even if tomorrow’s poll has them even as well, “it’s so early that the only thing it’s good for is a headline.”
McClellan also said he expects Corzine’s approval ratings to stay pretty much the same, since New Jerseyans are worrying more about planning summer vacations and high gas prices than the front office.
Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray said that he expects the Governor’s approval rating close to where it was in his own April 30th poll – 34%.
“I haven’t seen anything happen over the past month and a half that would indicate that the approval ratings will shift dramatically as far as Corzine is concerned,” he said.
Murray said that the controversy over the emails between Corzine and union leader Carla Katz, an ex-girlfriend, hadn’t captured the public’s imagination and likely will not unless and until the public gets to read the actual text of the emails.
As for the Senate race, Murray said that Zimmer will need to poll ahead of Lautenberg in the double digits if he expects to run a tight race against him in November. Summer polls typically favor Republicans.
“Early polls in New Jersey tend to favor Republicans more than the actual outcome. You’ll probably see a race close than it may be at the end,” he said. “Even if it’s neck-and-neck, that means Zimmer’s going to have a tough time.”