New Rasmussen Poll just released:
Republican Chris Christie continues to hold a three-point advantage over incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine in New Jersey's down-to-the-wire race for governor.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state, conducted Thursday night, shows Christie with 46% of the vote and Corzine with 43%. Those numbers are unchanged from earlier in the week and little changed from polling conducted the week before.
The last four Rasmussen Reports polls have shown Christie with a very slight advantage ranging from two to four percentage points each time. Christie now leads by eight points among men while Corzine is up by two among women.
Independent candidate Chris Daggett attracts eight percent (8%) support in the latest poll. That’s up a point from earlier in the week but down three from two weeks ago. While more than 20% of the state’s voters have considered voting for Daggett at some point along the way, his actual support has been declining over the past couple of weeks. Daggett was initially seen primarily as a protest vote for those unhappy with Corzine as governor but unwilling to vote for a Republican.
Christie leads by seven points among those who are certain they will show up and vote.
Corzine does better among voters who might not make it to the polls. That's one reason President Obama, former President Bill Clinton and other Democratic Party luminaries are spending time in the Garden State. The more of these uncommitted voters that the Democratic Party and its allies can get to the polls, the better the prospects for Corzine. Democrats generally have an edge in New Jersey when it comes to getting out the vote, which is one reason no Republican has won a statewide race since 1997.
Still, even among supporters of the president, there is some reluctance to embrace Corzine. Voters who Strongly Approve of the president’s job performance overwhelmingly support Corzine. However, among those who Somewhat Approve of Obama’s performance, 48% say they’ll vote for Corzine, while another 48% will vote for one of the challengers—28% for Christie, 20% for Daggett.
Those who Somewhat or Strongly Disapprove of how the president is doing his job prefer Christie by wide margins. Overall, 55% of New Jersey voters give the president their approval.
Measuring the ultimate impact of third-party candidates is always challenging. Many voters initially say they support an independent option and then change their minds as Election Day nears. Over the past couple of weeks, the number of voters who cite Daggett as their first preference has declined from 16% to 12%. The number who will actually vote for such a candidate typically declines because they eventually decide to vote for the lesser of two evils between the major party candidates.
Currently, Daggett draws support from eight percent (8%) of Democrats and four percent (4%) of Republicans.
Overall, Daggett is viewed favorably by 37% of voters and unfavorably by 47%. His unfavorables are up seven points from earlier in the week and 20 points over the past three weeks. Daggett is viewed unfavorably by 66% of Republicans while Democrats and unaffiliated voters are more evenly divided in their views of him.
Corzine is now viewed favorably by 44% and unfavorably by 54%. Those numbers are a slight improvement from earlier in the week.
Christie’s totals are 48% favorable and 50% unfavorable, down slightly from earlier in the week when the two were even.
Early in the year, Christie held a solid lead over Corzine. The governor’s campaign worked to make Christie an unacceptable alternative and succeeded in driving the negative ratings up for the GOP hopeful. Daggett became a possible candidate for those who didn’t like the governor but also didn’t want to vote for a Republican, so Christie began linking Corzine and Daggett. That has succeeded in driving up Daggett’s negative ratings. About the only thing certain in New Jersey at the moment is that the next governor will be someone that is disliked by at least half the state.
In this year's only other gubernatorial race, Republican Robert F. McDonnell has now opened a 13-point lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in Virginia.