The New Jersey governor's election is less than two weeks away, and it deserves far more attention than I have been giving it. Nevertheless, I will now belatedly share some thoughts that have been stewing in my head.
Here is a snapshot of the race, taken on October 25th:
There are several unmistakable trends here. The challenger Attorney Chris Christie gains a double-digit lead over the incumbent, for fairly obvious reasons. Then, mysteriously, he proceeds to lose it. Incumbent Governor Jon Corzine's share of the vote mostly remains flat but - and this is important - trends slightly upward. While the two main candidates blast each other, third-party candidate Chris Daggett draws support at an accelerating rate.
Mr. Corzine's positive trend should encourage Democrats; it indicates that he is actually building support, not just tearing down Mr. Christie. In addition, expect Mr. Daggett to overperform on election day as he reaches viability. Normally, third-party candidates perform below their polling; this election, however, with both major candidates highly unpopular, constitutes anything but a normal situation.
The strangest and most interesting part of the campaign, however, has been the story of Mr. Christie.
Though most polls are showing the New Jersey governor's race to be dead even between incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine and former U.S. Attorney and Republican challenger Chris Christie, a new poll by Suffolk University signals that Corzine (42 percent) leads comfortably over Christie (33 percent), with independent Chris Daggett trailing with 7 percent. Three percent of voters selected among the other nine independent candidates listed on the ballot, and 14 percent were undecided.
The high proportion of undecided voters at this late stage in the game suggests this could be a low-turnout affair -- one that could only serve to enhance the traditional advantage the Democrats have in New Jersey.
Considering that this is the second poll showing Republican Chris Christie falling to the low 30s -- a New Your Times survey of registered voters in the state found Christie with just 30 percent support last week -- the window of opportunity for the Republican may be closing rapidly. And headlines like "A questionable hiring by Christie raised concern among prosecutors in U.S. Attorney's office" from the state's largest newspaper aren't likely to help, either. One week out from election day in New Jersey, things are most certainly looking down for the GOP.
New Jersey's Democratic Governor Jon Corzine now has his first lead in the Pollster.com trend estimate since November 2008 -- and it doesn't even include the latest Democracy Corps (D) poll, which like today's Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows him leading Republican Chris Christie by 3 percentage points.
Real Clear Politics, which has also yet to add in the Democracy Corps survey, puts Corzine up by a similar 39.3 percent to 39.1 percent margin over Christie, with Independent candidate Chris Daggett pulling in 14.9 percent support. If you add in the latest poll to their average, Corzine's lead inches up to 39.625 percent to 39.125 percent -- a half percentage point lead -- with Daggett at 14.625 percent.
Update [2009-10-22 17:22:17 by Jonathan Singer]: With the new numbers added in, Corzine now leads 40.2 percent to 39.6 percent per Pollster.com -- or a 39.6 percent to 38.7 percent lead with the smoothing turned on more sensitive.
Republican Chris Christie is absorbing yet another opposition research hit today in the New Jersey Governor race.
"Listen, I plead guilty to having raised money for Governor George W. Bush because I thought he was the best person to be President of the United States. And I did it in a completely appropriate fashion and enthusiastically for the President. And there's no mystery to the fact that I was appointed to this job because, in part, I had a relationship with the President of the United States"
"Anybody who receives a political appointment -- I am a political appointee -- there's going to be some measure of politics involved with that appointment."
The more New Jersey voters recognize that Christie is not a nonpartisan good government type but rather a fierce partisan who has, at the least, taken some highly questionable actions with regards to his previous office, the less they like him. And with pre-election polling in the Garden State traditionally and notoriously overstating the strength of Republican candidates, this race continues to look more and more winnable for Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine.
I hear some on the left complaining that Obama has done nothing and is just as bad as Bush. I understand a certain amount of frustration with the slow pace of reform, though I wasn't surprised that it would take time to change 8 years of disastrous policies. But I think it is borderline insane to ignore the many areas that have improved since Obama took office. Here is one example: