BOSTON – Though most polls are showing the New Jersey governor’s race to be dead even between incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine and former U.S. Attorney and Republican challenger Chris Christie, a new poll by Suffolk University signals that Corzine (42 percent) leads comfortably over Christie (33 percent), with independent Chris Daggett trailing with 7 percent.
Three percent of voters selected among the other nine independent candidates listed on the ballot, and 14 percent were undecided.
The Suffolk University poll, which included all 12 candidates whose names are printed on the ballot, shows that while Corzine has been able to bring down the reputation of his opponent he has been unable to attract voters who were not open to his candidacy before the campaign commenced.
Pollsters also say that the confusing New Jersey ballot ultimately will hurt the Daggett campaign, who is likely to draw votes away from Christie.
Daggett is polling 7 percent statewide. His name appears in different locations on the ballot, depending on the county. Some counties list the candidates in rows while others use columns, yet in all 21 counties, the Democrat or Republican is listed first or second in every case.
“Independent Chris Daggett struggles to be found on the ballot, which benefits Jon Corzine, whose campaign is peaking at the right time for him,” said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. “The bottom line is that, if this trend holds, it will be an amazing comeback for Jon Corzine.”
Thirty-five percent of likely voters said that they would be extremely or very comfortable with Corzine, compared to 20 percent for Christie and 9 percent for Daggett.
All candidates struggled with personal popularity, with Corzine viewed favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 46 percent.
After months of attacks funded by Corzine, Christie polled 34 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable.
Remaining largely unkonown among voters, Daggett scored a 20 percent favorable and 25 percent unfavorable. All three candidates had higher negatives than positives.
Overall 72 percent of New Jersey voters said their minds were made up, while 24 percent indicated they might change their minds before the election. Christie voters were 78 percent determined; 75 percent of Corzine voters were resolved, but only 56 percent of Daggett voters had made up their minds, with 44 percent indicating they might change their minds.
The Suffolk University statewide poll was conducted Oct. 22 through Oct. 25, 2009. The margin of error on the study of 400 is +/- 5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the New Jersey statewide survey were likely voters.
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