Poll: Lautenberg ahead in U.S. Senate race

Incumbent Frank Lautenberg has an eight point lead over Republican Dick Zimmer, 45%-37%, among likely voters in his bid for re-election to a fifth term in the U.S. Senate, according to a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll released this morning.

“While Lautenberg leads, many voters cannot commit to either candidate. This is usually bad news for the incumbent. However, Republicans are not showing their typical early support for the GOP nominee,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Couple this with the high number of voters entertaining a third party vote, and it’s clear that Dick Zimmer still has work to do with his own base before he can start courting independent voters.”

Lautenberg’s job approval is at 45%-33%, and his favorable are at 34%-37%, something the pollster says is “nothing to write home about” and that the incumbent ought not “set his campaign on cruise control.” Just three out of ten voters (31%) say Lautenberg is too old to be effective – a better number than previous polls.

“The U.S. Senate race is being run in the shadow of the presidential contest, and Lautenberg may win this one because of Obama’s coattails as much as on his own record. New Jersey voters have yet to tune in to the senate campaign and few see any reason to do so. Probably because they anticipate a mudfest,” said Murray.

More from Gannett: Lautenberg up by 11.

Poll: Lautenberg ahead in U.S. Senate race