Tuesday, September 1, 2009

State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/1/09)

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What effect have the negative charges levied against Chris Christie had in the New Jersey governors race? If you look at the polls that were released a today (yesterday technically), you'd be hard-pressed to conclude anything other than "not much". The fact of the matter is that Republican Christie continues to be in good shape. More often than not recently, the former US attorney has been in themid- to upper 40s in the polls (not a bad spot to be in a three person race) while incumbent, Jon Corzine has remained in the upper 30s to lower 40s range. That wasn't any different in the two polls released most recently.

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Race Polling
Margin of Error
Aug. 25-30, 2009
+/- 2.4%
1612 likely voters
Fairleigh Dickinson [pdf]
Aug. 24-30, 2009
+/- 4%
715 likely voters

Christie was steady in both at 47% support while Corzine hit both ends of the spectrum in his range; upper 30s in the Quinnipiac poll, lower 40s in the Fairleigh Dickinson poll. The net effect is essentially nil in FHQ's graduated weighted averaging in the race. And for the status quo trajectory to be altered in any noticeable way, there is going to have to be a fundamental and distinct change in the polling. As you can see in the figure below, despite recent fluctuations in polling (for Christie specifically), whether above or below the average, that average has basically flatlined. So despite the fact that there has been something of an accumulation of negative news coming out about Chris Christie, it doesn't seem to be flagging his support in polling. Corzine just appears to be an unpopular incumbent.

The one interesting thing in these two polls is that Corzine and independent, Chris Daggett, appear to be locked in a zero sum game (And yes, this could simply be coincidental.). As Daggett's support rises, Corzine's goes down. This trend has not made itself clear in any of the previous polling in the race, but it is worth noting that Christie's numbers and those in the undecided column are the exact same in both polls. The fluctuation is between Corzine and Daggett.

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My gut is that ultimately this is a two horse race and that most people will decide between Christie and Corzine. That implies that the 9% support Daggett is garnering in the Quinnipiac poll is a bit high. However, it isn't clear that those folks (those aligned with Daggett in that poll) would move in whole or in part toward Corzine. For the incumbent to win, though, he'll have to count on swaying both a majority of those Daggett "supporters" (and there are some supporters without quotes out there as well) and undecideds. For New Jersey (and national) Democrats trumpeting the "those Democrats will come home in November" trend (something that in gubernatorial races is not that clear), that is the hope. But the hour is getting late, Corzine is still stuck below 42% and those playing hard-to-get are sticking to their guns. Corzine has some room to grow as both these polls show him below 75% with Democrats, but like the Virginia race (though not nearly to the extent), independents are leaning toward the Republican candidate. On average (in these two polls), Christie is about 20 points up. Corzine will have to raise the bar among Democrats and close that gap among independents to have a chance.

...even with the cushion Democrats enjoy in Garden state registration.

Recent Posts:
State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/1/09)

2012 Presidential Trial Heats (Clarus Research Group): Obama vs. Gingrich/Huckabee/Palin/Romney

Have the Races Changed in New Jersey and Virginia?

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