Quinnipiac University pollster Clay Richards says that incumbent Jon Corzine has suddenly become the underdog in his bid for re-election to a second term, and that the “big question is whether Corzine will come back like Democratic Gov. Brendan Byrne did in 1977 or go down to defeat like Jim Florio in 1993?”
A February 1977 Eagleton-Rutgers poll showed Byrne trailing an unnamed Republican challenger by 26 points, 45%-19%. He had an upside-down approval rating of 22%-71%. In a July poll taken after Byrne won the Democratic primary with 30% of the vote against ten challengers, GOP State Sen. Raymond Bateman led by seven points, 46%-39%. Byrne was re-elected by a 56%-42% margin.
More than half of the state’s voters (51%) felt Florio didn’t deserve a second term in a February 1993 Eagleton-Rutgers poll. Florio had upside-down approvals of 36%-60%. A post-primary poll taken in June showed Republican Christine Todd Whitman and Florio in a statistical dead heat, 44%-43%. Whitman beat Florio by 26,093 votes, 49%-48%.
For extreme political junkies: in the 1977 Democratic primary, Florio finished fourth with 15% of the vote.