Another poll, this one from Rick Shaftan's Neighborhood Research, shows the race for Governor in a statistical dead heat. Republican Christopher Christie leads the Gov. Jon Crzine 36%-35%, with independent Christopher Daggett at 11%.
Corzine's favorables are upside-down at 28%-46%, while Christie is also upside-down at 28%-31%. Daggett's favorables are at 17%-4%.
Shaftan, a political consultant who works for conservative candidates, says that this is the first poll where Corzine and Christie have equal favorables, and that Corzine's favorables are actually higher among those definite in their intention to vote, 28% vs. 27%.
According to Shaftan, the Daggett vote "is real, at least for now."
Six out of ten voters who view Daggett favorably are voting for him, 60% of Daggett favorables are voting for him, a tally Shaftan called a very high figure for a third party candidate. Daggett is at a 91%-0% favorable rating among New Jerseyans who say they are voting for him.
"This is significant because the Daggett vote is not a ‘protest' vote against the other two candidates but a positive affirmation of their candidate," Shaftan said. "Daggett could be a credible force if he can raise more money, and remain a viable alternative for voters."
Shaftan says Christie in underperforming in the most Republican region of the state, Northwest New Jersey, where he leads 37%-30%, with 17% for Daggett.
"Christie's biggest problem here, and one he may overcome by election day, is Chris Daggett, who has strong numbers and, if he can remain viable, has the potential of siphoning off large numbers of potential Christie voters," said Shaftan.
Corzine leads in Northern New Jersey (Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic) 46%-27%-12%. In Central New Jersey (Mercer, Middlesex, and Middlesex), Christie has a 30%-27%-9% lead. Christie leads 49%-18%-7% in Monmouth/Ocean, and 32%-30%-11% in South Jersey.
"Last month we saw the end of the line down the road for the Governor, a poorly defined incumbent with an aimless message and soggy base. This month, his favorables are up 7 points but more significantly, his open-ended favorable responses are much more positive and defined than in September with strong answers like ‘fixing New Jersey' replacing ‘trying hard' type of responses," Shaftan explained. "Corzine's liberal base, which was soggy for him earlier in the campaign, has come home and this is a problem for Christie."
Among conservatives, Christie leads 63%-12%, with 13% for Daggett. But Shaftan says that undecided conservatives are moving to Daggett, not Christie.
- Corzine has gotten off the canvas. The remaining question is whether he can close the sale.
- Corzine's negative attacks on Christie have finally start to have an impact, but the effect is not anywhere near as great as conventional wisdom would have people believe.
- Christie's negatives are just as likely to come from a vague stand on the issues or his own negative ads against Christie (actually RGA ads mostly) than Democrats attacks.
- Daggett continues to soar in Northwestern New Jersey and represents a real threat to the Christie campaign, whether that continues depends on a number of factors.
- Daggett needs money now to offset the expected Christie offensive, and it probably isn't there for him. If the race remains close, the "a vote for Daggett is a vote for Corzine" message will resonate.
- Looking at key words in open-endeds 30 percent of Corzine's favorables said "done" or "doing" only 5 percent said "trying" — a big change from last month.
- 37% of Corzine unfavorables mention taxes when asked what they dislike about him. This would normally be an excellent issue for Republicans, except that they have no plan to cut taxes either.
- A third of Christie favorables either mention Corzine or Change as a reason they support him — a mirror image of Obama and 2008. 10% mention that he is a Republican, 7% say he is conservative and 7% say he is honest.
- Christie's negatives are less defined and more personal. Few key words stand out, and Corzine's inability to close he sale on Christie keeps Christie alive.
- Daggett's tax plan, and not his TV ads, is a major reason for his boost in favorables.
The Neighborhood Research poll was conducted October 6-8 and has a margin of error of +/- 5.7%.