A new Quinnipiac University poll released early this morning shows Democrat Frank Lautenberg with a nine-point lead, 48%-39% among likely voters, over Republican Dick Zimmer in the race for U.S. Senate. Quinnipiac was at 48%-41% last month. Lautenberg has had double digit leads in several independent polls released over the last week, including a ten-point lead in a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll also released this morning.
Lautenberg leads despite a "lukewarm" 44%-38% apprival rating, and a feeling by 54% of voters, including half of Democrats, that the 84-year-old Senator is too old to serve six more years. But voters still don't know Zimmer, who served in Congress from 1991 to 1997. He has a 24%-8% favorable rating, and two-thirds of the voters don't know who he is.
"Voters may feel Sen. Frank Lautenberg is too old, and his job approval rating isn't the greatest, but against a weak Republican opponent he is doing just fine in his bid for re-election," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Lautenberg's nine-point lead may have a lot to do with the fact that two thirds of the voters say they don't know enough to form an opinion about his challenger, former Rep. Dick Zimmer. With seven weeks to go, the Republicans will need a real October surprise to turn this race around."