Wednesday, July 22, 2009

State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (7/22/09)

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This morning, Strategic Vision released the numbers from a survey of New Jersey. For Chris Christie, the results of the gubernatorial trial heat are another feather in the Republican's cap. But for Jon Corzine, they offer yet another ominous sign.

Christie: 53%
Corzine: 38%
Daggett (I): 5%
Undecided: 4%

Margin of Error: +/- 3 points
Sample: 800 likely voters
Conducted: July 17-19, 2009

Sadly, there are no attendant crosstabs, so digging down can only go so far. However, here are a few thoughts. This is the first poll since independent candidate, Chris Daggett was added to the questioning that Christie has cleared the 50% barrier. In fact, the Republican has not topped that mark since the calendars were flipped to July. To break through, then, and hit the highest point he has had throughout all the polling conducted on this particular match up since the beginning of the year is telling for Chris Christie. Of course, the flip side of this result is that, at 4%, the undecideds are at their lowest level of any poll as well.

But those sorts of fluctuations are why FHQ applies its weighted average to the polling results. Christie did jump (over a point) in the average to extend his lead over the incumbent Democrat to nearly ten points. [And incidentally, the undecideds are sitting right around the 11% mark when averaged. Sure, but doesn't that include the data from polls where the undecideds were over 20 points back in the earlier part of the year? Yes, but the graduated weighted scheme takes care of that. For transparency's sake, however, if we look at just the polls conducted since the New Jersey primary on June 2, that number drops to about 8.5%. In other words, still above the 4% we see in this current Strategic Vision poll.] If we look at just the polling done since Christie's primary victory, the Republicans advantage grows to just 10.5 points.

Christie, then, is ahead and comfortably so at that. But what about Corzine? The thing that is most troubling for the incumbent is that he is seemingly stuck in a rut. There has really been no movement in his numbers -- good or bad. The governor has settled into the 37-41% range and hasn't really budged. That tempts me to stop making comparisons between this race and the Brendan Byrne comeback victory in the 1977 gubernatorial election. At a similar point in that race Byrne, trailed his Republican opponent (Raymond Bateman) 53-36 among likely voters. Eerily similar, right? Yes, and even though there was only scant polling in that 1977 race prior to that point in July, the fact that Corzine has basically not moved all year -- other than his March swoon -- is troubling to say the least. It is still relatively early in this race (most voters may not be paying attention yet), but not as early as it once was.

Just to throw another number out there, Obama's approval in New Jersey in this poll was right at 50%.

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