Monday, November 2, 2009

State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (11/2/09)

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On Election Eve, things in New Jersey are pretty much where they were when the day began: close. All that remains is for the votes to be cast tomorrow. First, however, we here at FHQ have to reconcile how we are going to look at this as the Garden state gubernatorial race comes to a close. As I mentioned last night, the margin between Chris Christie and Jon Corzine was likely to get tighter as the last flurry of polls were released, but that the chance of Christie falling behind Corzine, as has been the case at other poll aggregating sites, was very slim indeed. In fact, the Republicans advantage only fell to 3.4 points.

However, one of the criticisms that FHQ should have gotten, but never did, during the examination of the polling in this race, was the cut off for polls being included in our graduated weighted averages. Somewhat arbitrarily, we have been looking at polls conducted since the first of the year. Again, the earlier a survey was in the field the less it counted in our averages. Still, being that as it may, some of those polls were among the worst for Corzine throughout the year. Out of curiosity, we wanted to see what moving that cut off would do to the numbers. Yes, the first of the year made sense to some extent: people technically closed the book on 2008 and began looking forward to 2009. It could reasonably be argued, though, that some folks didn't really begin paying attention until the general election field was set following Christie's primary victory on June 2. [Others, perhaps, would make the point that even some of those polls are outdated.]

What, though, would FHQ's averages look like if the cut off was moved to June 2 instead of January 1? [Yeah, I thought it was a good question, too.] Well, as might be expected Christie dropped off some; moving from the 43.3% you see above to 41.6% in the post-primary period. Somewhat surprisingly, though, Jon Corzine dropped as well. Given that Corzine was stuck in essentially the same polling position throughout (at least until this last month), that decrease was less pronounced. The incumbent Democrat shifted downward from 39.9% to 39.4%. Yet, the overall margin between the two major party candidates was cut by just about a quarter; from 3.4% to 2.2%

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Race Polling
Margin of Error
Public Policy Polling [pdf]
Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2009
+/- 3.1%
994 likely voters
Monmouth/Gannett [pdf]
Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2009
+/- 3.7%
722 likely voters
Survey USA
Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2009
+/- 4.1%
582 likely voters
Democracy Corps [pdf]
Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2009
+/- 4%
606 likely voters
Oct. 27-Nov. 1, 2009
+/- 2.5%
1533 likely voters
Fairleigh Dickinson [pdf]
Oct. 22-Nov. 1, 2009
+/- 3%
1119 likely voters


Even if we constrain the examination to just a simple average of the days final round of polling (And I've got to admit I'm kind of surprised there wasn't a last minute Rasmussen poll to accompany the six above. I mean, come on, the firm is located in New Jersey.), the underlying message is the same: Christie is ahead, but only slightly so. What does that mean? It means this race -- one in a traditionally blue state -- is tied*. Christie is ahead with something of a national, anti-incumbent wind at his back. Yet, Corzine is within striking distance, has the financial wherewithal, and can lean on a GOTV effort in a blue state that can equalize matters. Oh, and can have fake pro-Daggett robocalls made on the final night of the campaign -- not that it was Corzine directly. My point isn't to crash on Corzine so much as it is to say that this is a close one and while Christie may be slightly ahead, that is offset by the partisan conditions on the ground and the fact that Corzine has run successfully for statewide office twice this decade.

That's got to count for something. But as they say on the sporting fields, that's why they play the game. Score-keeping in that game starts tomorrow at 6am and ends at 8pm.

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*This is what Pollster shows; a 42-42 dead heat. But I've got to say, I'm kind of disappointed in their explanation for not including the new numbers from Fairleigh Dickinson. FHQ backed out the original numbers and treated today's re-release as a new poll. All the FDU folks did was add four days worth of interviews on top of the last survey release. I don't know what the problem is there other than it would have broken up this convenient tie. I'm not buying this overlapping polls explanation, but that's FHQ.

Final Virginia update coming in the morning.

Recent Posts:
State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (11/1/09)

State of the Race: Virginia Governor (11/1/09)

State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (10/31/09)

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