By Art Gallagher
Last month on the NJ 101.5 “Ask the Governor” hour, Governor Christie said that Patrick Murray needs to go back to school. Murray predicted that Jon Corzine would be narrowly reelected last year. Given the Governor’s remarks, Murray’s spotty history, and given the pork that Frank Pallone has bestowed on Monmouth University lately, I figured I take a critical look at the CD-6 poll released today.
Murray said that Anna Little leads among Independents by 13%,yet is losing by 12%. Given my understanding the of the sixth district, my gut instinct was that that the race should be even closer.
Murray polled 643 “likely voters” between October 2 and 5. 53% registered Democrats, 23% Republicans and 24% Independent, according to his press release.
The actual registration make up of the district is 38% Democrat, 15% Republican and 48% Independent, as of August 25, according to Labelsandlists.com
Murray classifies a likely voter as someone who has voted in 2 of the last four general elections. Of the 333,519 registered voters in CD-6, 60,053 voted in 2 of the four last general elections; 23,750 (40%) Democrats, 27,791 (46%) Independents and 8,512 (14%) Republicans, according to GOP records of voter activity.
Of the 50, 463 registered Republicans in the district, 13, 744 voted in the primary last June. 38,266 voted in last year’s general election when we elected Governor Christie. 32, 086 voted in the 2006 mid-term election.
Of the 160,334 undeclared voters, 47,750 (30%) voted in last year’s gubernatorial election. 29,758 (18%) voted in the 2006 mid-term.
Of the 122,722 registered Democrats, 78,533 (64%) voted in 2009 and 69,449 (57%) voted in the 2006 mid-term.
Given these numbers, Murray’s “random sample” seems flawed.
Using these numbers and Murray’s margins, MMM makes the following analytical but scientifically flawed assessment of the CD -6 race:
MMM predicts that Republican turnout in the district will be slightly stronger than last years gubernatorial election turnout of 76%. Republicans are motivated and the Tea Party ground game will get them out. Look for a 78% turnout with 83% of that vote (Murray’s margin) going to Anna Little. That’s 32,670 votes for Little, 5117 votes for Pallone (Murray says that Pallone will get 13% of the Republican vote).
MMM predicts that the Independent, or undeclared, turnout will slightly weaker than last years turnout, but much stronger than the 2006 mid-term. Call it 28%, or 44,894 votes. Murray says that 51% of Independents are for Little, 38% for Pallone, and 11% undecided. Somebody smart recently said that undecideds usually break against the incumbent. I’m giving Little 8% of the undecided Independents and Pallone 3%. That comes to 26,487 votes for Little, 18,407 for Pallone.
MMM predicts a low turnout among registered Democrats in the district. 64% of Democrats came out to vote in the gubernatorial election last year and Christie still won the district. It is a safe bet that many of those D’s came out to vote against the supremely unpopular Jon Corzine. Frank Pallone does not spur the passion, pro or con, that Jon Corzine did. The 2006 mid-term was a big Democratic anti-war, anti Bush year. It was also a U.S. Senate year with Robert Menendez facing off against Tom Kean, Jr on the top of the ballot. 69,449 D’s voted in CD-6 in 2006. 51,462 voted in 2007 when the state legislature was at the top of the ticket. Those are the hard core voters. With no Senate race on the top of the ticket and without strong negative motivation ( the Iraq war and Bush), MMM predicts that only 58,000 D’s will come out to vote on November 2 in CD-6. Using Murray’s margins, 89% will vote for Frank Pallone, 51,620, 8% will vote for Anna Little, 4,640. Murray’s 3% undecided D’s will stay home.
Given all of the above, MMM has Pallone winning by 11,347 of 138,941 votes cast. An 8% margin, with 27 days to go.
Much has been made of Frank Pallone’s huge financial advantage over Anna Little. Pallone has $4 million. Little has $200K and might raise another $200K in the next few weeks. But there have been no signs that Pallone is spending his war chest. Is the money gap significant if Pallone doesn’t spend on this race and keeps hording his cash for his planned U.S. Senate race? It is to the extent that his money keeps potential Little donors holding on to theirs.
Little can close that gap by winning back the majority of the GOP voters leaning towards Pallone. I find Murray’s margin of 13% of GOP voters going for Pallone hard to believe. If Little whittles that down to 3% and wins most of the GOP undecided voters, she picks up 7065 votes.
She will then need 4,282 more Independents and 1 Democrat to win, recounts and voter irregularities in New Brunswick not withstanding.
In order to do that, Little, the GOP and the Tea Party need to increase the Independent turnout to about 35%. If that happens, Little wins.
If Little had $1 million for media buys, this wouldn’t even be a race. Murray says that 45% of the voters have no opinion of her, yet she is losing in his poll, by only 12%. Those are terrible numbers for Frank Pallone.