Tuesday, October 13, 2009

State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (10/13/09)

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Public Policy Polling released a new poll from New Jersey this morning and the state of the race has moved very little. In fact, because the new poll looked so similar to the last most recent poll (from Democracy Corp), nothing changed much at all with the exception of both major party candidates dropping a tenth of a percentage point. Christie's shift is a continuance of his slide in surveys of late whereas Corzine's move was more a function of his most recent poll rating (41% in the Democracy Corp poll) being slightly higher than the 39% support the incumbent Democrat received in the PPP poll.

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Race Polling
Margin of Error
Public Policy Polling [pdf]
Oct. 9-12, 2009
+/- 4.1%
571 likely voters

The real news continues to be Chris Daggett's rise in the last few weeks. His 13% showing in the PPP poll pushed the independent closer to the 10% mark in FHQ's averages of the race's competitors. But it isn't all good news for Daggett (and Corzine by association). As was brought up again today by Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic, Daggett faces the very real possibility that voters will have issues locating him on the ballot. The major party candidates get the first two rows in the gubernatorial ballot with the first slot being determined by a coin flip between the Democrats and Republicans. Everyone else, though, is crammed into a third row (see FHQ's discussion of this from last week). What will happen then? PPP found that only 44% of Daggett's supporters in this poll were committed to the independent and that Christie led by a 48-34 margin over Corzine as a second choice. If you aren't really committed to the third party guy, and you can't find him on the ballot, then what is the likelihood that you throw in the towel and mark the name of your second choice -- the guy who's not the unpopular incumbent.

Now, is that likely to happen? Possibly in a lower information, off-year election like this where the race is close. Usually the impact of something like this would be felt at the margins and wouldn't affect the outcome. But we're talking about a statistical tie in this race in the most recent polls. Yes, FHQ's averages are still a bit skeptical (owing to the fact that we have turned the other way on several Neighborhood Research polls and a handful of internet-based polls that have shown a close race as well) and lag behind. However, the margin between Christie and Corzine is definitely creeping closer.

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