Friday, September 25, 2009

State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/25/09)

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We're close to entering the final month of Campaign '09 and the polling in New Jersey and Virginia is starting to pick up as a result. There were a couple of new polls out in New Jersey and depending on your perspective both are problematic. FHQ won't pile on Strategic Vision any more than has already been the case (see here and here*) except to accuse Strategic Vision of stealing our numbers -- jokingly of course.

...I think.

The first thing we thought here at FHQ upon seeing those numbers was, "Hey, those are the same as our averages in the race right now. What a coincidence."

Later it became, "Was that a coincidence?" Of course it is, but my real point here is that the inclusion of that data has absolutely no impact on the averages. They basically just serve to reinforce the preexisting state of the race. We'll leave the Strategic Vision poll in the averages until something is definitively proven one way or the other. Innocent until proven guilty, right?

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Race Polling
Margin of Error
Strategic Vision
Sept. 18-21, 2009
+/- 3%
800 likely voters
Democracy Corp [pdf]
Sept. 22-23, 2009
+/- 4%
601 likely voters

The other poll from the Garden state came from Democracy Corp. Now, there isn't anything wrong with the GQR poll other than the fact that the firm leans Democratic. The firm has consistently shown a closer race than most other polling outfits, and that doesn't change here. What this and Democracy Corp's other polls seem to imply, given that Corzine continually hover at or below the 40% mark across these and most other polls, is that the support for independent candidate Chris Daggett is coming at the expense of Chris Christie and not Jon Corzine (as has seemed the case in other polling). Still, the poll certainly seems to accurately show the position Corzine is in, but is underestimating Christie's support relative to other recent polls.

How does that affect the Republican candidate's fortunes in FHQ's assessment of the race? Well, it certainly hasn't trailed off like what Pollster is showing (Christie = 43.7%)**, but it has dropped. Throughout our averaging of the polls in this race, Christie has yet to drop below the 46% mark, but is on the cusp of doing so now. [In fact, the Republican technically has dropped below that point because the average rounded up from 45.99.] However, Corzine has been unable to counteract that decrease from his opponent with an increase of his own. And that continues to be the story in this race. Now, Christie's decline may ultimately wind up meaning that undecideds and some Daggett supporters break toward Corzine at the last minute, but we're a long way off from seeing that. For now, Corzine is still trying to figure out how to break 40%.

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*I had the same question as in one of FiveThirtyEight's early comments to that post. It is fine to compare Strategic Vision to the average across all polling firms but how to other firms stack up under similar isolated scrutiny.
**The Christie decline at Pollster is largely attributable to both the Democracy Corp polls and their inclusion of the Neighborhood Research polls as well. And FHQ is excluding the polls from the latter.

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