So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash in New Jersey in 2008?

We've seen it happen a number of times in recent years. Republicans come to the conclusion that they are on the verge of winning a big statewide contest in New Jersey and plow much-needed resources and time into challenging the Democratic nominee. It happened during the 2002 Senate election, when former Senator Frank Lautenberg was tapped to replace then-Democratic Senator Bob Torricelli on the ballot and Republicans thought they could sneak off with a victory, but in the end Lautenberg won by 10 points. It happened in 2004, when the folks in the Bush-Cheney campaign thought they could make a run on New Jersey, only to lose by a 7-point margin on election day. It happened in 2005, when Republicans thought they had a shot at defeating Jon Corzine in the gubernatorial election but ended up losing by a double-digit margin. And it happened again in 2006 when Republicans believed they could defeat recently-appointed Democratic Senator Bob Menendez with the son of a former Republican Governor, Tom Kean Jr., only to see him go down in flames, losing by 8 points. So will Republicans fall prey to this situation again? If they take too close a look at the latest Quinnipiac poll they might.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Frank Lautenberg is handling his job as United States Senator? (2/20-25/2007; MoE +/- 2.7%)
Total (1/25)GOPINDDEM
Approve40 (44)263756
Disapprove32 (32)453814

With Lautenberg's approval rating at 40 percent and trending slightly downward, Republicans have to mount a serious challenge in New Jersey, right? We should certainly hope they do. New Jersey is a notoriously expensive state in which to advertise (perhaps the most expensive, in fact), with candidates needing to spend not only in the New York media market but also the Philadelphia one in order to blanket the state with their message through television or radio.

And the money that Republicans spend in New Jersey is money that they cannot spend in other states. Taking a look at the 2006 cycle, for example, if the National Republican Senatorial Committee had devoted a portion of the more than $4 million it spent attacking Menendez in New Jersey to, say, Virginia, Montana or Missouri, each of which saw Republican Senators going down to defeat by much narrower margins that the one by which Kean lost in New Jersey, it's quite possible (and perhaps even likely) that the GOP would have still been in control of the Senate today.

So let's hope that Republicans take a look at these numbers on Frank Lautenberg and fall for the same mistake they have so often in recent years by deciding that this is the cycle during which they will break their long losing streak in New Jersey by dumping several million dollars into a race that you and I and even they (in the back of their minds) know is futile.

Tags: new jersey, NJ-Sen, Senate 2008 (all tags)



Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash in New Je

I think CA has you beat, but I agree, it would be foolish for them to try.  That has not stopped them before.

by juls 2007-02-28 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash in New Je

You beat me to that point.  SF, LA, SD - talk about pricey.  But here's hoping towards the GOP foray into the NJ-08 Senate race.

by csstraw2 2007-02-28 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash

If there's one thing to be learned about the polls in New Jersey, its that pollsters regularly undercount the Democratic vote.  I don't know why, but it seems that on a pretty regular basis, the GOP gets sucked into New Jersey because the Dems look weak in the polls.  And then the Democrat wins by 10 points.  Every.  Freaking.  Time.

by Jim Treglio 2007-02-28 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash

The public polls are all so horribly inaccurate. Jersey is a state full of cynics who hear "do you have a moment to..." and hang up. I guess the Dems are just the more cynical bunch, which would seem to make sense, all things considered.

by Scott Shields 2007-02-28 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Jersey Bound?

The largest group, by registration, statewide is Independents although Democrats have a comfortable lead over Republicans.  This means that unless something is "wrong", Democrats will win consistently.  I don't know why, but loud-mouthed, vituperative Republicans dominate the local newspaper comments and talk radio.  They think they are "smart" but what passes for sophisticated is far from it.  

The dynamic leads to consistently low approval ratings of public officials and consistent Republican losses when everything shakes out.  Also adding to the general negativity has been the slash and burn tactics of federal prosecutor Chris Christie who indicts officials freely on both sides of the aisle and the general negativity of the state's two largest newspapers (the Newark Star Ledger and the Record).  When Christie,a one-term freeholder from an overwhelmingly Republican county, is finally sent packing a lot of the cynicism and 'scalping campaigns" may end.  Good riddance.  (NJ republicans and democrats have nothing on California Republicans like Duke Cunningham but Christie's crusader rabbit nonsense adds to the brew.  

One other note.  The two Republican wins over the last twenty five years were by Whitman and were razor thin.  At least one was bought by street money buys of black ministers to depress turnout under the guidance of Ed Rollins.  They can't win an honest election but Republicans are convinced the next win is around the corner.  And that first surprise by Whitman has funded these chimeras ever since.  (BTW, the third rail in NJ politics is property taxes.  Republicans tend to be anti-taxers, not social conservatives, and are exurban not suburban).

by David Kowalski 2007-02-28 11:05AM | 0 recs
Please ID Candidates with (D) or (R)

OK -- I figured out that if Lautenberg was replacing a Democrat, then he was a Democrat also.

But it's hard for those of us who aren't following all these state races to get lost.

So it would be wonderful if you lovely bloggers could ID the candidates (and Congresspersons) as (R) or (D) when you first mention them in a story. So we'll know who to cheer for.

by MS 2007-02-28 12:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Please ID Candidates with (D) or (R)

Republicans thought they could sneak off with a victory, but in the end Lautenberg won by 10 points.

Not to be mean, but doesn't that (and other factors, like the D/R breakdown in approvals) kind of give it away?

by Scott Shields 2007-02-28 12:22PM | 0 recs

I disagree that Missouri and Virginia would have stayed GOP if more money was invested in them. Especially in Virginia, George Allen spent $4 million on two seperate two-minute addresses on live TV, in addition to a heavy statewide ad blitz. Reports of the campaign going bankrupt near the end were grossly exaggerated; Allen had the resources he needed, he just didn't have the votes.

In Missouri, by all account, Jim Talent ran the best campaign he could have. McCaskill ran an excellent campaign as well, and benefitted from both the stem cell ballot initiative and the national wave. Maybe another couple of million could have bought more ads, but the pieces weren't there for Talent in '06.

And its hard to say one way or another if Montanans are susceptible to television advertisements. My general feeling was that, by a few weeks before the election, people had pretty much made up their minds on whether to continue to Burns or to vote in someone new.

by Va Blogger 2007-02-28 12:22PM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash in New Je

Actually Corzine has a 50% approval rating in the Quinnipiac Poll done today (February 28th).  50% in New Jersey is  the equivalent of 70% in any other state...

by blueryan 2007-02-28 01:20PM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash

Why criticize their waste?

They keep losing and pumping more money in... why call them on it?

I mean i doubt they are going to change strategies but... why even create the possibility that they listen to your advice and stop funding NJ races?

That would allow them to put it somewhere else...

by MrMacMan 2007-02-28 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash in New Je

Perhaps this is a reason to support Giuliani as well. If I had to guess, I'd say that he might make New York more competitive that even Bush did in 2004 with his 9/11 effect, but that he'd still lost by a pretty decent margin. Of course, if that's the case, he'd probably have to campaign there, and he'd waste a ridiculous amount of money there and in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well. In the end, in this scenario, the Democrats will probably take all three, and win a few more states because of the Republicans diverting their resources.

by bjaklitsch 2007-02-28 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some

40% approval is pretty high for a new jersey politician. the only person more unpopular in new jersey last year than bob menendez was george bush.

by EmperorHadrian 2007-02-28 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some

Call me crazy, but I think Tom Kean Jr proved to be less popular than the senator, as well.

by Scott Shields 2007-02-28 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: So Will the GOP Waste Some More Cash in New Je

Lautenberg is a heck of a fighter for such an old guy.

Do people here realize he's a WWII vet, of all things?  That's amazing.

by Steve M 2007-09-12 01:29PM | 0 recs


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