By Art Gallagher
The gap that Scott Sipprelle needs to close in order to return Rush Holt’s career to plasma has widened from 5% to 8% in the last two weeks, according to a Monmouth University Poll released this afternoon.
Holt has widened his support in Middlesex County to 10%, 52%-42% vs a 4 point margin, 50%-46% in the earlier poll. Sipprelle still leads among Independents in the district, but only buy 11% vs 15% two weeks ago.
“While he’s not out of the woods yet, Rush Holt appears to be solidify his standing among voters in this district,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
That’s a puzzling conclusion from Murray, given that Holt’s support has remained constant at 51% in the two polls Monmouth conducted. “Undecided and other” have doubled as a percentage of respondents in the current poll, from 3% to 6%. Among Independents, “undecided and other” has increased from 7% to 9%. Rather than Holt solidifying his support, it would appear that Holt’s negative ads have been taking on toll on Sipprelle’s support and/or that Scott has failed to give Independents a reason to come out for him over the last two weeks.
The most surprising number both of Murray’s NJ-12 polls is Sipprelle’s favorability rating. In the October 13th poll, 41% of the respondents did not know enough about Scott to form a favorable or unfavorable opinion, including 44% of Independents and 24% of Republicans. In today’s poll, the “no opinion” number dropped only 2 points to 39%, including 42% of I’s and 24% of R’s. This is particularly surprising given Sipprelle’s radio and TV advertising throughout the summer and fall.
Just as Holt is “not out of the woods,” Scott has not been knocked out and can still win this race, though time is running short. Fast, and expensive adjustments are necessary for him to win.
Scott needs to “let it hang out” and let the Independent voters know the more human side of himself. Elections are not won on debating points. To a large extent they are won on likeability. Scott has been argumentative and a bit strident since the second debate. He’s argued with Holt’s commercials and he’s argued with the Asbury Park Press. He’s been defending himself instead of convincing the voters he’s going to fight for them. The “I don’t know and I don’t care” clip from the second debate that Holt is using on TV hurts. It shows a side of Scott that those who challenged him back in convention season saw a great deal of, but that the electorate does not need to see in the closing days of the campaign. A feel good, emotion provoking TV spot with his family and voters could turn the tide. It would have to be written, produced and booked tomorrow, but Scott has the resources to make that happen.
Focus on increasing the turnout in Monmouth County where Scott has a 60%-35% lead, according to Murray. Let Holt have Trenton and the rest of Mercer. Any resources spent there are a waste at best and possibly counterproductive in the last four days of the campaign. Close the gap with Middlesex Independents with the new ad. Play it during NFL games if there are spots available.
Play this ad as often as possible: