FDU poll shows Corzine and Christie in a dead heat

Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican Christopher Christie are in a statistical dead heat in the race for Governor of New Jersey, with Corzine leading 38%-37% among likely voters in a Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll released this morning. Independent Christopher Daggett is at 17%.

When Daggett is replaced in the ballot test by an obscure independent candidate – in this case, Kinnelon attorney Gary Steele – the race is tied at 38%-38%, with Steele at 12%.

Daggett, a former state Commissioner of Environmental Protection, gets 4% from likely voters who picked him without his name being mentioned. In that survey, Corzine leads 44%-43%.

In last month's FDU poll, Christie had a five point lead, 47%-42%; Daggett was not included in that survey. Two recent polls from Quinnipiac University and Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey had the race tightening with Christie ahead four points and three points, respectively.

Despite his clear gain in the polls, Corzine continues to struggle with upside-down job approval and favorable ratings. He has approvals of 38%-54%, and favorables of 37%-54% — virtually the same as the September FDU poll. But he has made up for earlier losses in Democratic support: 76% of Democrats now say they'll vote from him, up from 66% in early summer.

"Corzine is still swimming upstream against heavy currents," said poll director Peter Woolley. "Many Democrats are voting for him despite their misgivings."

Christie has seen a negative trend in his favorables and is now also upside-down, 35%-42%. He was at 38%-35% last month.

Daggett, who is the first independent candidate to qualify for state matching funds since 1997, now has statewide name recognition of 50%. But 27% of the likely voters who recognize his name have not yet formed an opinion of him. Of those who do, his favorables are at 16%-7%.

When asked to rate Corzine job performance, 3% called it "excellent," 26% "good," 35% "only fair" and 34% "poor" – basically unchanged from last month.

Sixty-eight percent said the state is on the "wrong tack."

Meanwhile, Daggett appears to have registered as the winner of last week's gubernatorial debate not just with the media, but with the public as well. Nearly one out of four voters (24%) said they watched the debate, which aired live on NJN. Of those who did, 14% said Daggett won, 12% said Corzine prevailed and 4% said Christie came off best.

Those surveyed before the debate saw Daggett favorably by a 2-1 margin (12% to 6%). After the debate, his favorables improved, with 21% having a favorable impression of him and 8% having an unfavorable impression.

Fairleigh Dickinson surveyed 667 likely voters from September 28 through October 5. The margin of error in the head-to-head survey that included Daggett and Steele is +/- 5%, while the rest of the survey has a +/- 4% margin of error.

Click here to view the Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll FDU poll shows Corzine and Christie in a dead heat