Even before the Indiana results came in, New Jersey was already shaping up to give Donald Trump his best showing of the primary season. As speculation now turns to the presumptive nominee’s choice of running mate, the Monmouth University Poll finds many Garden State Republicans feel Trump might be making a mistake in considering their governor for the number two slot.
Among GOP voters likely to cast ballots in the June 7th primary, 70% say they will vote for Trump. Just 15% support John Kasich and 11% back Ted Cruz. Trump holds overwhelming leads among every voter group in the state. [Note: Interviews for this poll were conducted Sunday to Tuesday, nearly all of which were completed before Cruz announced the suspension of his campaign.]
Trump recently said his pick for vice president would “most likely” be an elected official. One name at the top of that list is New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie. However, few New Jersey Republicans think choosing Christie would be a good idea. Just 15% say Christie would help Trump’s campaign while a plurality of 41% actually say Christie would hurt Trump in November. Another 37% say picking Christie for the ticket would not have an impact either way.
“It’s hard to imagine any running mate who could kill the Trump buzz, but the voters who know Chris Christie best think he might be that guy,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The advice from New Jersey Republicans? Look elsewhere for a running mate.”
Christie may not be viewed as the optimal VP pick, but his position on top of the Trump delegate slate would have done little damage to the candidate’s standing. New Jersey’s primary ballot requires Republicans to cast two votes – one for their presidential preference and another for the candidate’s delegate slate. In the 2012 presidential primary, more than 1-in-5 voters neglected to select a delegate slate even though they voted for a candidate. Nearly half (47%) of likely 2016 primary voters say seeing Christie’s name at the top of a candidate’s delegate slate would have no impact on their support for that slate. Another 34% say they would be more likely to support a slate headed by Christie and 13% say they would be less likely.
“For New Jersey Republicans, this race is about the top of the ticket even though it is the delegate vote that actually counts. Still, these poll results mean that Trump’s preferred delegates will be heading to Cleveland even with a significant undervote for the slate,” said Murray.
The other candidate slates are also headed by well-known Republican figures, but these names would have had even less impact on voters’ choice if the campaign had continued into June. The Kasich slate is led by former governor Christie Todd Whitman. Two-thirds (67%) say seeing her name at the top of a delegate slate would have no impact on their vote, while 13% say they would be more likely to support that slate and 12% would be less likely. The Cruz slate is topped by former mayor and candidate for statewide office Steve Lonegan. Three-quarters (76%) say seeing his name at the top of a delegate slate would have no impact on their vote, while 8% say they would be more likely to support that slate and 7% would be less likely.
Looking ahead to November, 79% of New Jersey GOP primary voters say they will stick with Trump in the general election. Among the remainder, 6% say they will vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, 6% will vote for another candidate, 3% will stay home, and 6% are not sure what they will do. Among Cruz and Kasich supporters, just 45% say they will vote for Trump in November while 19% will vote for Clinton, 14% will vote for another candidate on the ballot, 12% will stay home, and 10% are undecided.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 1 to 3, 2016 with 301 New Jersey voters likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary. This sample as a margin of error of +5.7 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.