Republican challenger Chris Christie continues to lead incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine in the race for New Jersey governor.
A new Rasmussen Reports survey of voters in the Garden State finds Christie, a former federal prosecutor, on top 46% to 38%. Independent candidate Chris Daggett gets six percent (6%) of the vote, and 10% are undecided.
These figures are down for both major party candidates. In late August, including leaners, Christie was leading 50% to 42%. Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning towards a particular candidate. From this point forward, results with leaners are considered the primary indicator of the race.
However, it’s worth noting that other indicators suggest that Christie’s lead might be a bit softer than the eight-point advantage indicates. Results before leaners are included show Christie up by just four points. Among those who are certain how they will vote, Christie leads by six. This suggests that the GOP campaign may be like a baseball team heading into the late innings with a lead but lacking a reliable closer. They’re happy to be ahead but can’t wait for the game to end so they can breathe again.
Traditionally in New Jersey, Democrats gain ground over the final months of the campaign. This year, Corzine is expected to heavily outspend Christie which also could be a factor.
This is the first Rasmussen Reports poll to specifically name Daggett as a third alternative. 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. If the election were simply a referendum on Corzine, he would lose. Barring a significant change in the race, it is very unlikely that Corzine will attract 50% of the vote.
But the Democrats hope to make the election a choice between two unacceptable options. If they can get some anti-Corzine votes to select Daggett rather than Christie, there remains a plausible path to victory.
Corzine’s favorable and job approval ratings are up a bit. Forty-five percent (45%) now have a favorable opinion of him and 40% approve of the way he’s doing his job. Those figures are up from the mid-thirties in August. However, just 13% Strongly Approve of the job he’s doing and 36% Strongly Disapprove.
Christie’s numbers are heading in the other direction. Just 42% have a favorable opinion of the GOP hopeful. That’s down six points from 48%. But Christie is still trusted more than Corzine on taxes, government spending and cracking down on corruption.
Corzine, the only incumbent governor running for reelection this year, has been hurt by a difficult economy. Just three percent (3%) of New Jersey voters rate the economy as good or excellent while 51% rate it as poor. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say the economy is getting better while 38% say it’s getting worse.
New Jersey voters are more supportive of President Obama’s health care plan than voters around the country. Fifty percent (50%) favor it while 47% are opposed. Nationally, 53% are opposed.
In this year's only other marquee political contest, Republican candidate Robert F. McDonnell has a 51% to 42% lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the race for governor of Virginia.
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