Brown Up By 3 Points in Tight NJ Senate Race, Poll Says

Chris Brown. Chris Brown via Facebook

With four days left until the election, Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-Atlantic) leads Sen. Colin Bell (D-Atlantic) by 3 points in a hotly contested Senate race in the 2nd legislative district covering Atlantic City, according to a poll released Friday.

Brown received 46 percent support to Bell’s 43 percent among likely voters, according to a Stockton University poll. The 3-point advantage for Brown fell within the poll’s margin of error, and 10 percent of respondents were undecided or did not name their choice.

A Stockton survey in September showed the candidates virtually tied at 46 percent each. The new poll released Friday came after several debates and millions of dollars spent on advertising by the campaigns and outside groups. The race has attracted $4.6 million in total spending so far, making it the second most expensive legislative contest this year, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Brown, a three-term assemblyman, was viewed favorably by 48 percent, while 14 percent had a negative view and 32 percent were not familiar with him. Brown is outperforming Bell among white, middle-aged and older voters, the poll found.

Bell, who was appointed to the Senate seat after Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) died in August, was unknown to 43 percent of likely voters. Those who had an opinion approved 31 percent to 21 percent, a net favorable rating. Bell leads by a wide margin in Atlantic City, which has a rare competitive mayor’s race this year, according to the poll.

“Many undecided voters will make up their minds this weekend and determine the outcome of this race,” said Sharon Schulman, executive director of Stockton’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy.

In the Assembly race, incumbent Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) has a comfortable lead with 31 percent of the vote, followed by his Democratic running mate, John Armato, at 27 percent. Republicans Vince Sera and Brenda Taube trail with 17 and 18 percent, respectively. Seven percent were undecided or not did not express a choice.

The Stockton poll of 530 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 26 through Thursday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Brown Up By 3 Points in Tight NJ Senate Race, Poll Says