A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll released this morning echoed the recent Quinnipiac and Rutgers-Eagleton Polls. Over 70% of New Jersey voters approve of Governor Chris Christie’s performance and over 60% favor his reelection. Christie is trouncing presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Senator Barbara Buono by more than 40 points.
78% of voters haven’t heard enough of Buono to form an opinion about her. Polling Director Patrick Murray said the race is likely to narrow to a 20% gap in favor of Christie and the Democratic challenger becomes better known.
“There is a long history that shows horse race polling has little predictive value this far out from an election. This is especially true when there is a popular incumbent and a largely unknown challenger. The important number here is that 6-in-10 voters support Gov. Christie’s re-election,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “This suggests that the race should close in on a 20 point margin as the campaign progresses and Buono becomes better known. The question remains whether the challenger can peel off Christie supporters to shrink that gap even more.”
Murray says that jobs, property taxes, schools, storm recovery and gun control are very important issues to the New Jersey electorate. Minimum wage is an important issue with most voters supporting an increase. However, Christie’s conditional veto of a minimum wage increase has not hurt his support with most voters.
According to Murray’s analysis, Buono has the potential to motivate 7% of the electorate to switch from voting for Christie to voting for her. If she gets all of them, Christie still wins with over 50% of the vote.
Monmouth polling staff attempted to identify voters who could potentially be motivated to switch support from the incumbent because of this issue. This group includes voters who: feel Gov. Christie deserves re-election, are dissatisfied with his veto, say they will vote to support a minimum wage ballot measure, and report that the issue is very important to their vote for governor. Analysis shows that this group comprises about 7% of the total electorate. Hypothetically, if Sen. Buono were able to convince all of these voters to abandon their support for Christie, his re-election support would remain above the 50% mark.