Former state Environmental Protection Commissioner Christopher Daggett, running for Governor as an independent, is at 12%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. That's a four-point increase from September 1 (9%) and a six point increase from August 11 (7%) for a candidate with 16% name ID statewide – 11% favorable — who spent about $250,000 airing a single TV ad on New York TV.
Daggett is the only one of the ten independent gubernatorial candidates to be included in the poll. He is also the only independent to qualify for matching funds, and the only independent to be included in the gubernatorial debates. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine has upside-down favorables, and voters are split on Republican Christopher Christie; the virtually unknown Daggett is the only alternative and some of his votes could wind up being cast for some of the other independent candidates.
In 1997, the last time a third party candidate received public financing and was included in the debates, a Quinnipiac poll had Libertarian Murray Sabrin at 8% in a three-way race with Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (45%) and Democrat James E. McGreevey (37%). When the choices were expanded to all ten candidates, Sabrin dropped to 5% (which was his actual percentage on Election Day), with Whitman at 46% and McGreevey at 36%.
McGreevey and Republican Bret Schundler received a combined 98% of the vote in 2001. One percent went to William Schluter, a Republican State Senator from Mercer County who was running as an independent, and another 1% was divided among five other candidates.
In 2005, eight independent candidates (and nearly 10,000 write-in votes for then-Gov. Richard Codey) split four percent of the total general election vote (82,121 votes), with Corzine defeating Douglas Forrester by 239,280 votes, 53%-43%.