GOP incumbent Frank LoBiondo holds a substantial 21 point lead over Democrat Bill Hughes in the race for New Jersey’s 2nd district House seat, according to the Monmouth University Poll. LoBiondo is widely liked by his constituents and holds the advantage on key issues in the race.
Among voters likely to cast their ballot in next month’s congressional race, 56% say they will support Frank LoBiondo and 35% will vote for Bill Hughes, Jr. Another 2% say they will vote for a third party candidate and 7% are undecided. Republican LoBiondo won re-election two years ago by an 18 point margin even though Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee at the top of the ticket, lost the district by 8 points.
LoBiondo has a significant lead among both men (64% to 30% for Hughes) and women (49% to 40%) as well as in both the coastal (54% to 36%) and inland counties (59% to 33%) of this southern shore district. Republicans support LoBiondo by a 91% to 5% margin while Democrats back Hughes by a smaller 76% to 16% margin. Independents support LoBiondo – 64% to just 25% for Hughes.
“LoBiondo has held his seat for two decades because of significant crossover appeal in a district that otherwise trends Democratic,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
LoBiondo first ran for Congress in 1992 against then-Rep. Bill Hughes, Sr., father of the current Democratic nominee. LoBiondo lost that race by 14 points but went on to win the seat handily two years later when the incumbent decided to retire from Congress.
“There is speculation that LoBiondo’s may retire in a few years. Perhaps the younger Hughes hopes that lightning will strike again and he will have a clear shot in 2016. Of course, back in 1994, LoBiondo first had to get past a primary race against a veteran lawmaker. That may also be on the cards for the Democrat next time around,” said Murray.
District voters who are familiar with the candidates tend to be more positive than negative, although few say they know enough about the challenger to form an opinion of him. Specifically, voter opinion of LoBiondo is 56% favorable and just 18% unfavorable with 27% registering no opinion. Voter opinion of Hughes is 28% favorable to 9% unfavorable with 62% having no opinion.
“To put it plainly, district voters, including many Democrats, simply like Frank LoBiondo,” said Murray.
The Monmouth University Poll found that LoBiondo has an advantage on the overall perception of who is in touch with the district. When asked which candidate understands the concerns of district residents, 37% say only LoBiondo does, 18% say only Hughes does, and 20% say both do. Another 17% of likely voters say that neither candidate understands the district.
LoBiondo is also the preferred candidate on a wide range of issues. These include:
– helping veterans and the military – 42% say LoBiondo will do a better job, 20% say Hughes will do a better job, and 19% say both will perform about equally;
– protecting coastal resources – 41% prefer LoBiondo, 22% prefer Hughes, and 18% say both will perform about equally;
– helping seniors – 39% prefer LoBiondo, 25% prefer Hughes, and 19% say both will perform about equally;
– improving jobs and the local economy – 38% prefer LoBiondo, 25% prefer Hughes, and 15% say both will perform about equally; and
– doing the right thing on healthcare – 35% prefer LoBiondo, 26% prefer Hughes, and 14% say both will perform about equally.
The Monmouth University Poll also found that 2nd district voters have a negative opinion of both Pres. Barack Obama and the U.S. House of Representatives. Obama receives an upside down 39% approve to 55% disapprove job rating while the House receives an even worse 17% approve to 70% disapprove rating for its performance. Voters in the 2nd district are divided on whether they would like to see the Republicans (36%) or the Democrats (30%) control Congress. Another 32% say party control would make no difference to them.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from October 12 to 14, 2014 with 438 New Jersey voters likely to vote in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District November general election. This sample has a margin of error of + 4.7 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.