Between now and Election Day, I plan to post in this space each weekday a short daily blog as to how I assess the election.
I now believe that Jon Corzine will defeat Chris Christie by a margin of between three to five points.
Let me put it this way. Thirty-two years ago, Ray Bateman lost to Brendan Byrne because of his highly flawed plan to eliminate the state income tax. This year, Chris Christie is likely to lose because he has NO plan regarding local property taxes.
Polls often are wrong with regard to the actual margin between the candidates, but they are a reliable barometer as to the trend in the election – especially when they are all showing the same direction. During the past week, all the polls are showing Christie’s vote total going down and his negative personal approval numbers increasing. Unless he 1) comes out with a credible property tax platform within the next week; and 2) brings in a national “heavyweight” Republican consultant to provide a coherent focused message, there is little hope for a Christie victory.
I have reviewed my PolitickerNJ.com columns published during the past two months, and I note my following previous statements:
August 6 –
“This (property tax) is also the issue which should be a game-changer for Chris Christie, but instead has become one where his campaign has been sorely lacking”
“If Christie were to propose a platform of principles to control property tax increases in New Jersey, it would accomplish two objectives for his campaign. First, it would enable him to “change the subject” from attacks on his ethics to property taxes. Second, it would enable him to solidify his advantage over Corzine on this issue.”
August 13 –
“In the face of accelerating forthcoming negative attacks from Corzine, Chris Christie will never hold his present plurality among Independents unless he can change the subject to property tax, an issue on which Independents have judged Jon Corzine to be a failure. There is also a risk that Independents discontented with Corzine on property taxes will vote for Chris Daggett if Christie remains silent on this issue.”
September 14 –
“The key for Christie is the ability of his message to attract his voters to the polls, thereby trumping the Corzine money and organizational advantages. That is why I think the Christie message strategy of attempting to 'run out the clock' and avoiding specific proposals on key issues, most notably property tax, is a serious and possibly fatal error. A pallid message harping on Corzine’s failures will not be enough to win this election.”
Since September 14, the poll results totally confirm what I have been saying about Christie and his failure to propound a platform on the property tax issue. I wish I was wrong, but unfortunately for Chris Christie, I believe I am not.
Ray Bateman would have been an outstanding Governor of New Jersey; however, he lost his chance for election because of what he said about income taxes during the 1977 election campaign.
Likewise, Chris Christie has all the leadership and management skills to enable him to be a superb governor during these difficult times. Unfortunately, because of what he has NOT said about property taxes during Campaign 2009, he also will not be elected.
I hope I have to eat these words, but unless Christie changes strategy and strategist, this ballgame is over.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven federally recognized Indian nations.