By Chris Megerian/Statehouse Bureau
October 26, 2009
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine has a nine-point lead vs. Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie, according to a Suffolk University poll released today.
With eight days left until the election and most polls showing the New Jersey governor’s race as too close to call, the Suffolk University poll showed Corzine leading 42 percent to 33 percent and places independent candidate Chris Daggett far behind at 7 percent. That is the incumbent’s biggest lead all year, after Corzine spent months trailing Christie, at times by double digits.
Most recent polls have showed the governor’s race at a dead heat, with Daggett’s support as high as 20 percent.
The Suffolk poll — the first by that institution on the 2009 New Jersey governor’s race — is unusual compared with other independent surveys because it included all 12 candidates on the ballot. Most other polls have included just Corzine, Christie and Daggett, who was the only independent candidate to qualify for public matching funds and participate in the debates.
Daggett’s support dropped when his name was mixed with the other independents, as it will appear on ballots in some counties.
“Independent Chris Daggett struggles to be found on the ballot, which benefits Jon Corzine, whose campaign is peaking at the right time for him,” said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. “The poll tells us that voters believe Corzine is the best choice of the twelve candidates and the most comfortable choice of the major three. The bottom line is that, if this trend holds, it will be an amazing comeback for Jon Corzine.”
The poll, conducted among 400 likely voters from Oct. 22 through Oct. 25, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. Among the 10 percent of voters favoring one of the 10 independent candidates, 29 percent chose Christie as their second choice, while 24 percent picked Corzine, 19 percent chose another independent and 29 percent could not name a second choice.
Other positive signs for Corzine in the Suffolk poll include comfort level, undecided voters and perception. More voters said they would be extremely or very comfortable with Corzine than Christie or Daggett, and more undecided voters chose Corzine than the other two when forced to pick. And when voters were asked to name the winner — regardless of who they planned to vote for — most said Corzine would be elected, 58 percent to Christie’s 24 percent and Daggett’s 2 percent, according to Suffolk.
A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released last week showed Corzine at 39 percent, Christie at 36 percent and Daggett at 20 percent, and a Monmouth University poll showed the major-party candidates tied at 39 percent and Daggett at 14 percent. An Oct. 14 Quinnipiac University poll gave Christie 41 percent, Corzine 40 percent and Daggett 14 percent.