New Jersey voters are tuned in to the upcoming Senate and gubernatorial elections, and candidates from both political parties share the affection of majorities of registered voters across the Garden State.
According to the most recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, almost a quarter of respondents say they’re following the Senate (23%) and gubernatorial (21%) elections “very” closely with an additional almost half who say they’re following the elections “somewhat” closely.
In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Cory Booker commands a solid lead over Republican Steve Lonegan. Fifty percent of registered voters prefer the Newark Mayor as compared to 22 percent who support the former mayor of Bogota.
As for the gubernatorial race, Governor Christie maintains a comfortable lead over his opponent, Democrat Barbara Buono. Half (50%) of all registered voters favor Christie as compared to 26 percent who favor Buono. Christie has seen his support decline seven points from when the same question was asked in June (57% to 50%). Over that time, Buono’s support has been virtually unchanged (27%).
“Booker and Christie go into the fall with numbers that can only make them smile,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “The hopeful sign for their opponents is the double digit numbers of people who remain ‘unsure’ about whom they intend to support in either election. For many, their preferences have not yet hardened.”
Booker and Christie do well within their own parties, with 80 percent of Democrats favoring Booker and 81 percent of Republicans favoring Christie. However, partisan support for their opponents is more divided. Fifty-six percent of Republicans favor Lonegan, with considerable numbers undecided (23%) or favoring someone else (6%). And Barbara Buono appeals to a plurality of all Democrats (47%), but almost a third support Christie (29%).
“Cultivating greater support among their base would help Buono and Lonegan make up ground. With Labor Day almost behind us and kids going back to school, we’re entering the period of time when people begin to pay more attention to the choices that await them in October and November,” said Jenkins. “There’s likely to be more opportunities for connecting with voters, particularly those from the same party, in the coming weeks.”
The poll also asked registered voters about effects that a Governor Christie endorsement might have on their preferences for the legislature. Although there has been discussion in the press about the possibility of the governor’s coattails carrying greater numbers of Republicans into office, the numbers from this poll do not bear this out. Almost two-thirds (61%) say a Christie endorsement is likely to have “no influence” on whom they’d support for the legislature, with about equal numbers divided between those who say they would be more likely (18%) and less likely (17%) to vote for a candidate when paired with a nod from the governor. Partisanship appears to matter little, as about three-in-five of both Republicans (58%) and Democrats (60%) say his endorsement would have no influence, and almost three-quarters (71%) of independents saying the same.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 700 registered voters in New Jersey was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from August 21 through August 27 and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.