Corzine Catches Up In Latest Poll

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TEANECK—According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™, Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine edges Republican challenger Chris Christie 44% to 43% among likely voters in the race for New Jersey governor.  Another 4% volunteer they will vote for independent Chris Daggett and 5% say they are undecided.

“With the start of an advertising blitz and the raw exposure of the debate, the race has tightened to a dead heat,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll.

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Corzine’s new poll position is reflected by a shift in secondary measures.  Corzine has all but caught up to Christie (34%-36%) on the question of “which candidate better understands the concerns of the average person?” Asked which candidate is better described as “honest, trustworthy,” a measure in which Christie originally led by 33%-24%, Corzine is now slightly ahead 31%-28%.  Corzine continues to lead easily (45%-29) on the question of which candidate “has the background and experience to be a good governor.”

Corzine comes out on the short end of several other ratings: 37% have a favorable opinion of him compared to 54% who have an unfavorable view.  Just 23% say the state is moving in the right direction. Only 29% say Corzine is doing a good or excellent job as governor.

And just 38% approve of his job performance, compared to 50% who disapprove –numbers essentially unchanged from a month ago. But three quarters (76%) of Democrats say they will vote for him, up slightly from 73% a month ago and from two-thirds (66%) in early summer.

“Corzine is still swimming upstream against heavy currents,” said Woolley. “Many Democrats are voting for him despite their misgivings.”

Christie attracts 4-in-5 Republicans (81%) and about half of independents (52%), but his ratings are suffering: 35% have a favorable opinion of him, while 42% have an unfavorable view.

Half of likely voters (50%) now say they have heard of independent Chris Daggett, up from a third (33%) one month ago; but another 27% say that, while they’ve heard of him, they have no opinion of him.

“Daggett’s support is a measure of voter discontent,” said Woolley. “Rather than being a draw, he is the reflection of voters’ unhappiness with the direction of the state and the campaign.”

When Daggett’s name is read in an interview along with Jon Corzine’s and Chris Christie’s name, Corzine leads Christie 38%-37% and Daggett gets 17% of the vote.  Daggett attracts twice as many Democrats as Republicans.  But when another independent candidate’s name is read—in this case we chose Gary Steele—the effect is similar.  Independent Gary Steele gets 12% of the vote while Corzine and Christie tie at 38%.

Compared to 77% who say they’ve never heard of Daggett or have no opinion of him, 85% of likely voters say they have not heard of Steele and another 10% say they’ve heard of him but have no opinion.

While 7-in-10 can’t name a winner in the recent gubernatorial debate, 14% say it was Daggett, 12% point to Corzine and 4% say Christie.  More Democrats identify Corzine as the winner than identify Daggett as the winner, but about twice as many Republicans say Daggett was the winner as say Christie won.

“The debate clearly increased Daggett’s name recognition and doubled his favorable ratings,” (to 23% from 12%) noted Woolley.

Nearly half (49%) now say Corzine will win in November compared to 37% who say Christie will win.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 667 likely voters statewide was conducted by telephone from Sept. 28, 2009, through Oct. 5, 2009, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.


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