Poll: Dems line up behind Hillary, while Republicans waver on Christie

When it comes to their favored choice for the party’s nomination in 2016, Democrats in New Jersey are near-unanimous in their support for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It’s Republicans who seem a little more divided.

While their own Gov. Chris Christie continues make move toward a presidential campaign, he’s favored only by a narrow margin of New Jersey Republicans in the race for 2016 among both declared and potential Republican candidates, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll released this morning. Christie pulled 20 percent support in the poll next to candidates like Scott Walker (14%),  Jeb Bush (13%), Ted Cruz, Rand Paul (both at 8%), and “someone else” (15%).

The biggest vote getter among the group was the “don’t know” category (22%).

“Nationally the field remains largely wide open on the Republican side. The only twist is back at home, Christie remains the favored son by a narrow margin,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind. “Of course, it would help his case if he was the clear favorite among New Jersey Republicans, and other establishment candidates like Bush and Walker were handily eclipsed by Republican support for Christie. But, with his continued struggles among voters backhome, Christie’s slight edge over others is a win.”

Men divide their loyalties pretty equally among Bush (16%), Christie (18%), and Walker (17%), but Governor Christie stands apart from the rest through his appeal to women. Among named candidates, Governor Christie is the one to do the best among women (24%), a significant point given the importance that women voters have and continue to play in American elections.

Clinton remains the clear front-runner on the Democratic side following a savvy social media campaign announcement last week. Sixty-two percent favor her with nine percent who say they favor another Democratic candidate, and just over a quarter (27%) who say they don’t know whom they’d support.

Democrats for Governor

In the race to replace Christie in 2017, the poll found Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) leading Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and former Ambassador to Germany and Goldman Sachs CEO Phil Murphy.

The long-term senator from southern New Jersey, Steve Sweeney, is known by around four-in-ten Garden State voters (44%), with Fulop and Murphy unknown to vast majorities across the state (87% and 88% respectively). Sweeney’s attractiveness (13%) is balanced by an equal number who have an unfavorable opinion of him (15%).

“Since Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by around 700,000, the Democratic field for 2017 will be watched closely.  Name recognition is often an early proxy for support. Sweeney has the edge right now, but there are still months and months of the journey to go.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 790 registered voters in New Jersey was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from April 13 through April 19. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Poll: Dems line up behind Hillary, while Republicans waver on Christie