Little-Known Lonegan Faces Difficult Election Day Challenge

U.S. Senate Candidate Steve Lonegan at an Americans For Prosperity Event in 2011 (Photo credit: Nick Step)

U.S. Senate Candidate Steve Lonegan at an Americans For Prosperity Event in 2011 (Photo credit: Nick Step)

NEW BRUNSWICK – With just over five weeks until the Oct. 16 special U.S. Senate election, more than half of the likely New Jersey voters either don’t know Republican candidate Steve Lonegan or have no opinion of him, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Not surprisingly, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has opened a large lead over the former Bogota mayor, with  almost two-thirds (64 percent) of likely voters supporting Booker, 29 percent backing Lonegan and 6 percent undecided.

“Booker appears to be building an insurmountable lead,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “While special elections are notoriously hard to predict, given uncertainties about turnout, Booker’s name recognition, celebrity-type status and stances on issues that align more with New Jersey’s ‘blue’ political climate seem to be driving momentum toward him and away from Lonegan.”

Most likely voters think Booker will win – including Republicans and Lonegan voters. The special election is drawing modest attention among registered voters: just over half claim they are following the election at least fairly closely with nearly a quarter giving it close attention. Just under 60 percent of registered voters say they are very likely to vote in the October election.

Results come from a sample of 433 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percentage points. All totaled, 925 New Jersey adults were polled statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Sept. 3-9. Within this adult sample are 814 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points, from which the likely voter sample is taken.

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