STATE — New Jersey’s U.S. Senate election is more than a year away, but Newark Mayor Cory Booker has the early advantage in a potential Democratic Party primary matchup with Sen. Frank Lautenberg, according to a new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.
The poll shows that 66 percent have a favorable view of Booker, compared to 45 percent for Lautenberg. The long-time senator is known by 83 percent of New Jersey voters, but Newark Booker is not far behind in name recognition at 75 percent.
Among self-identified Democrats and Democratic leaners, Booker comes out on top in a matchup for the Democratic nomination against Lautenberg. Forty-two percent would prefer Booker over Lautenberg, compared with 20 percent who prefer Lautenberg over Booker.
“These numbers suggest that some difficult days may lie ahead for the incumbent senator should he seek reelection,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Senator Lautenberg’s unfavorables, coupled with voter preferences for Booker as the Democratic standard bearer in the general election, complicate the landscape for this living legend amongst New Jersey politicians.”
“Booker has clearly leveraged his position as mayor of Newark to an admirable degree,” said Jenkins. “But whether late night rescues of constituents from burning buildings and high profile spats with city officials can translate into a winning campaign remains to be seen. At least for now, however, Mayor Booker begins his candidacy with a healthy amount of public support.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 700 voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from January 2 through January 6, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.