Republican challenger Chris Christie still holds a seven-point lead - 48% to 41% - over incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine in the race for New Jersey governor.
The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of voters in the Garden State finds independent candidate Chris Daggett attracting six percent (6%) of the vote, and five percent (5%) undecided.
Earlier this month, Christie led by eight points, 46% to 38%. In late August, the Republican ex-prosecutor was out front 50% to 42%.
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Corzine continues to be plagued with low job approval ratings and high negatives. Just 38% approve of the way he is performing his role as governor while 61% disapprove. That latter figure includes 45% who Strongly Disapprove.
On a personal basis, 39% have a favorable opinion of Corzine while 60% say the opposite.
For Christie, the numbers are 48% favorable and 46% unfavorable. But only 22% have a Very Unfavorable opinion of Christie compared to 39% who offer such a negative assessment of Corzine.
Daggett, a former Environmental Protection Agency official who also headed the state's Department of Environmental Protection under GOP Governor Tom Kean, is little known. Just eight percent (8%) of voters have a strong opinion of the independent candidate, and 45% don’t know enough about him to have even a soft opinion.
The data suggests that a segment of the initially undecided voters may have already rejected Corzine and are now trying to decide whether to vote for Christie or Daggett. While it may no longer be possible for Corzine to attract 50% of the statewide vote, Democrats may hope to reduce Christie’s total by persuading some anti-Corzine votes to pull the lever for Daggett rather than Christie. That remains a plausible path to victory.
Eight percent (8%) of Democrats now plan to vote for Daggett, along with five percent (5%) of unaffiliated voters and two percent (2%) of Republicans
Traditionally in New Jersey, Democrats gain ground over the final months of the campaign. No Republican has won a statewide race in New Jersey since 1997, but the incumbent governor is unpopular enough to give the GOP a chance this year. However, Corzine is expected to heavily outspend Christie which could be a game-changing factor.
Six percent (6%) of New Jersey voters say this year’s gubernatorial campaign has been less negative than most while 24% say it's been more negative. The overwhelming majority (68%) say it’s about the same as usual.
Voters say the candidates for lieutenant governor are having little impact on the overall race.
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