Murray: Congressional map better, not best

TRENTON – Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray said redistricting 13th member John Farmer was right that the new Congressional map was “by all measures, an improvement,” but Murray said the map could have been better. He also disputed Farmer’s assertion that the new District 3 – without Democratic haven Cherry Hill and including Republican base Brick – is a “fair fight” district.

Murray was curious to know what numbers Farmer was using that led to that conclusion.

Congressional race polling numbers, Murray said, are “the only numbers that really matter,” and without examining in depth those numbers himself, the pollster said his first impression was that District 3 had a distinct GOP advantage.

Overall, he said the new map – especially considering contiguousness, compactness, combination of communities of interest – is “by all measures, an improvement.”

“But how much of an improvement?” Murray asked.

He said the final showdown between U.S. Reps. Scott Garrett and Steve Rothman doesn’t seem like much of a match, more of just the addition of Rothman’s hometown of Fair Lawn and a few other towns into the already existing District 5.

Murray said Rothman is left with options aside from challenging Garrett in the GOP-heavy north. Although political pressure may prevent Rothman from challenging Democratic neighbor U.S. Rep Bill Pascrell in a now-South Bergen-based district, Murray said it could be a possibility. Another possibility is that Rothman could net a federal level position if President Barack Obama is re-elected, Murray said.

The pollster said he hoped to see a combined shore district in Monmouth and Ocean counties, or movement of Hamilton into the existing District 3.

Murray: Congressional map better, not best