Now from Jersey: Newspapers, Polls, etc.

New Jersey is a state with over eight million people but without a Tv station.  The "need" to use NYC and Philly TV makes campaigning God-awful expensive and also limits the amount of coverage local politics gets.

Although newspapers from the two major media markets get a lot of readership from NJ, they don't give it much coverage.  Looking on the web today, neither the NY Times nor the Philadelphia Inquirer had articles on the Jersey Senate race.  The state's two largest papers, the Newark Star Ledger and the Record (formerly the Bergen record) did have ample coverage but took completely different tacks.  The Star Ledger was playing gotcha about even more fake stuff from Kean ("Democrats for Kean" May Vote for Menendez).  It seems that they were tricked into coming to a Kean event mis-labeled as being a meeting about political corruption).  The Record was still hammering hard about Menendez and real estate transactions.  Perhaps notably, the Record serves more Republican areas of the state and has pushed big time to become the paper of choice in Morris County.

Maybe the most noteworthy headline was from the NY Daily News, "Foley Mackerel>"

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Secret Dividend of PT911

Throughout most of 2006, Bob Menendez and Tom Kean, Jr. have moved within a narrow range showing a small lead for either man or a statistical tie.  A substantial number of Kean voters (20% or more) confuse the boy (Jr.) with the man (the ex-Governor and 9/11 Commission Co-Chairman).

Kean, Sr., had remained, at least on paper, the most formidable politician in New jersey long after he left office in 1989 IIRC.  Local magazines like New Jersey Monthly annually rate Kean, Sr. as the most powerful person in the state.  Kean, Jr., OTOH, had already lost a congressional primary and showed little merit of his own despite almost continual build-up.  Strangely, the strategy for Menendez seems to be to point out that the Republican candidate is somebody else, not the famous and well-liked Kean, Sr.  Secondly, if at all possible, he needs to tear down the memory of the most popular Jersey politician since at least Bob Meyner back in the early 60's.

The Disney Project suddenly gives life to efforts to make Kean, Sr., somebody other than the genial man who did tourism commercials during his terms as NJ Governor ("New Jersey and You, Perfect Together").  Suddenly he's an uber-partisan who wants to tear down Clinton because the Big Dog campaigned for Menendez.  Hardly Senatorial.  His work on the 9/11 Commission is getting torn to shreds.  His vaunted "moderate" stance has become a joke.  And yes, he's not running for Senator.  All in all, this is a good thing for Menendez and it can be turned into a great thing.

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Generic congressional, Presidential, and Congressional Percentages: An Examination

One of the core beliefs of a lot of political analysts seems to be that a party's Presidential vote within a congressional district is the best measure of party strength and is preferrable to the use of figures from the last congressional election.  Generic ballots on a national level or even a district level also seem to be a favorite tool.  How does this square up to actual voting?

Not well, it seems.  I already had data from Tennessee because I was looking at Harold Ford's strength as a candidate.  In Tennessee, a whopping 9 out of the state's nine congress critters ran ahead of their national ticket (four Republicans and five Democrats).  My idea was to build upon this data bt looking at a small sample of House districts spread around the country (say about 10%).  That meant choosing four middle sized states as I was looking for around 44 representatives from 4 states.  I threw in New Jersey, my home state, Washington, and Michigan.  The sample was relatively accurate as it gave me 45 representatives including 24 Democrats and 21 Republicans.

To make the job easy, I used the congressional vote for 2004 from opensecrets.org and the Presidential vote by district as posted on Barry Welsh's 50 state strategy pages.

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Adwatch: NJ-SEN Bob Menendez

New Jersey is famous for the huge number of negative ads that characterize its campaigns.  While we can argue about how much this contributes to the well-known suspicion voters have of BOTH parties, it certainly means that a direct strong ad is expected and necessary.  This isn't a state where the candidates mince words and have to appear polite.

Here's the first Menendez ad:

Menendez at youtube.com

Here's an ad that comes out and criticizes George Bush and links the opponent to him.  There's a strong anti-war stand, but no specifics about withdrawal, splitting the country, or any of the other things the mydd.com Busby poll suggests no one believes anyway.  We don't hear the word accountability, but the message is very clear.  There's no mention of Democrats, but note the emphasis that Menendez is now a Senator and the patriotic flag that dominates the imagery.  The visuals of the ad reject any link of anti-war views with anti-Americanisms.  I think it's effective.

I notice Tom Kean, Jr. is not named.  Again, I'm happy to agree with that.  The father, Tom Kean, Sr., is well-liked so we can expect an effort to separate them.  But this first ad establishes Menendez as the one who will oppose Bush.  

Any comments?

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NJ Sales tax hike hits the poorest...the hardest

Here's what Jon Corzine said in 2000 when he ran for U.S. Senate against former New Jersey Governor, Jim Florio:

According to newspaper accounts, in a May 2000 debate with Florio, Corzine described the sales tax as "the most regressive of taxes, the one that falls on the people least able to pay for it."

"If we were forced into a tax increase, as the governor said we were, we should have looked for other taxes to accomplish what was needed," Corzine said in the New Jersey Jewish News.

[Associated Press, Tom Hester Jr.; June 23, 2006]

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