Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie leads Governor Jon Corzine by 14 points among likely voters but only four points among registered voters, according to a Monmouth University/Gannett poll released this morning.
Among likely voters, Christie leads Corzine 50% to 36%, with independent Christopher Daggett clocking in at 4%. That’s up significantly from last month, when Christie held an eight point lead over Corzine.
Among registered voters, Christie leads Corzine 43% to 39% — similar to the registered voter numbers from Monmouth’s poll last month. Daggett again pulls 4%.
“As an election heats up most polls focus only on likely voters with the aim of predicting the eventual outcome. However, we are still in the early days of this race and the role of a public poll should be to increase our understanding of electoral dynamics, including which registered voters may or may not show up on election day,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “In this case, we find that Corzine has made some gains with black and Hispanic voters, while Christie has increased his vote share among union workers. But the bottom line is that Christie’s supporters are more engaged, which is why the Republican’s lead among likely voters has grown.”
Corzine’s favorability rating remains basically unchanged at 39% favorable to 46% unfavorable, but Christie’s have changed significantly. Christie is seen favorably be 42%, 30% view him unfavorable — a six point increase since last month and an 18 point increase since January. That indicates that Corzine’s onslaught of negative ads against Christie have worked.
“The Corzine campaign strategy so far has been to go extremely negative on Christie in order to slowly chip away at the former U.S. Attorney’s reputation on ethics. Even in the wake of last week’s corruption busts, for which Christie can take some credit, this slow bleed on his unfavorable ratings has not abated,” said Murray. “However, the Republican has been able to make gains in voters’ choice because New Jerseyans have grown more negative about the job their current governor is doing.”
The poll shows that President Barack Obama’s visit last month helped bolster Corzine’s support from minority voters, bringing his black and Hispanic support to 65% from 50% last month. But Christie is making serious inroads in other crucial groups, leading 48% to 30% in union households, 47% to 37% among teachers and coming close – 40% to Corzine’s 43% — among state government workers. Those are huge gains from Monmouth’s poll last month.
The July 23 corruption arrests have had a significant but not earth shattering impact on the public’s priorities. Thirteen percent of respondents named corruption as one of their top issues, up from six percent last month.
The pollster surveyed 732 registered voters between July 29 and August 2. The poll has a margin of error of plus of minus 3.7%.