The Pindell Report, an independent analysis of state and federal races edited by Politicker.com's James W. Pindell, today upgraded the 3rd district House race from “Likely Democratic” to “Leans Democratic,” and said that the contest in the 7th district has become more competitive.
The ranking corresponds with more optimistic national prospects for Republicans, with presidential candidate John McCain surging in the two weeks since the Republican National Convention began. In New Jersey, recent polls put McCain within three points of Barack Obama.
“These are two longtime Republican seats. Democrats haven't won the 3rd since 1882 and the 7th since 1956. Republicans are getting over heated primaries, while Democrats had cleared the field for John Adler and Linda Stender,” said Pindell. “While the Democrats have much more money, internal polls show this race to be getting a little closer. If John McCain is getting the base behind him as polls suggest then Lance and Myers might have a shot after all.”
As of June 30th, Adler had $1.46 million on hand to Myers’ $155,406. Stender had $1.2 million to Lance’s $80,000.
But the campaigns of both Republicans said that the Democrats’ fundraising advantage can’t make up for what they see as their natural disadvantages in the district.
Myers spokesman Chris Russell was happy to see the classification changed to one more favorable for his campaign, but argued that the district is strongly Republican.
“There’s no way this seat even leans Democrat. This is a Republican district. Jim Saxton has won it handily for a number of years. Chris Myers is a great candidate. He is running against someone who’s a career Trenton politician at a time when the people of this district and New Jersey are both tired of politicians and tired of Trenton,” he said.
Russell acknowledged that the fundraising disparity looks bad, but considered Adler’s fundraising prowess a paper tiger, noting that the campaign burned through hundreds of thousands of dollars over the spring and summer.
“Sure it looks great, but it’s a mile wide and an inch deep. When you peal that back, I think they have a campaign that’s not going as well as they want you to think it is,” said Russell.
Lance Campaign Manager Amanda Woloshen said as much about Stender, and noted that President Bush won the district in 2000 and 2004, while it voted for Republicans in the last two gubernatorial races.
“This is a Republican district that has voted for the Republicans in every election in the last seven years. McCain is far ahead, and voters are being reminded that Linda Stender is a big spender and a big taxer,” said Woloshen. “And especially after yesterday’s developments on Wall Street, they know that they cannot send somebody with Linda Stender’s fiscal mentality to Washington.”
What impact the economy has remains to be seen. Common knowledge says that, at least in the presidential race, a poor economy tends to benefit the Democratic candidate.
Stender spokeswoman Irene Lin preferred the Washington Post’s rating of the district as the 7th most competitive in the country (Pindell ranked it the 25th most competitive – up from the 29th), and said that the fact that President Bush – whose approval rating in New Jersey has just about hit rock bottom — is coming to the Garden State to raise money for Lance and Myers shows desperation on their parts.
“We do think it’s highly competitive, and the fact that George Bush has to come in to raise money for these guys when he’s got a 22% approval rating in New Jersey, I think it shows how dire the situation is,” she said. “I think it’s going to be difficult for Leonard Lance to argue that he’s not going to go down there and be more of the same.”