Category Archives: Patrick Murry

Mulshine: N.J. Suburbs Still Get No Respect

The Star-Ledger’s Paul Mulshine had a pretty good column today, he points out how Chris Christie is making a big mistake by trying to court urban voters at the expense of the suburban voters. Mulshine points out that it was Monmouth and Ocean Counties that pushed Christie over the top, not Essex or Hudson. Why would he expect to make inroads in counties that are clearly opposed to his ideals?

Also of interest to residents in the 13th District, Mulshine gives another shout-out to Bob Brown. Brown ran as a Democrat in District 13 against Amy Handlin and Sam Thompson and did a better than expected job at the polls.

According to an internal Republican opinion poll that was leaked, Brown actually was leading Thompson with a week and a half left in the race but was done in by the anti-Corzine tsunami that washed over the bayshore area.

It’s a good read, check it out:

After I wrote a column last week critical of Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s transition team, which is packed with Trenton insiders and McGreevey administration retreads, I got an e-mail from Bob Brown.

“Where is the average Joe, the taxpayer from the suburbs?” Bob asked.

Nowhere, that’s where. If Christie was in the mood to put Democrats on his team, then he might have considered a Democrat like his old Seton Hall Law School classmate Brown. Brown is an ex-cop from Old Bridge who ran for the Assembly as a Democrat more conservative than the incumbent Republicans.

Brown didn’t win. But he did succeed in highlighting the issue that should be the No. 1 priority of the incoming Republican administration. And that’s the need for property tax relief for the suburbs.

A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Friday revealed that “New Jerseyans want their taxes cut; no other priority comes close,” in the words of the poll directors. And the tax they most want to see cut is the property tax, the poll showed.

But Christie made it clear immediately following his victory that the cities, not the suburbs, are his first priority. He spent the day after the election visiting Newark to kiss the ring of Democratic party boss Steve Adubato.

After paying his respects to Essex County, which went for Gov. Jon Corzine by a 65,000-vote margin, he blew a kiss to Hudson County, which went Democratic by a 46,000-vote margin. He included on his team a member in good standing of the Hudson Democratic machine, state Sen. Sandra Cunningham.

As for the aforementioned “average Joe from the suburbs,” Christie will be making the transition without him, even though it was the suburbs that gave Christie his victory, specifically the suburbs in the middle of the state.

Patrick Murray of the Monmouth University Polling Institute notes that turnout was down this year in every county except Ocean and Monmouth. And those two counties voted Republican by unprecedented margins, 70,000 and 64,000 respectively. But Republicans can’t count on that happening again, Murray said.

“It’s not clear this was a sea change in the way in which Jerseyans vote,” said Murray. “It was clearly just an anti-Corzine vote.”
In Murray’s view, and mine, Corzine committed political suicide with that ill-fated 2007 tour of the state to win support for his plan to borrow $38 billion against future tolls. That was the main factor in his losses in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties, all of which are heavily dependent on the toll roads.

Another factor was Corzine’s decision not to go on radio station 101.5 FM, which hosted that “pigs will fly” Statehouse rally in early 2008. That decision meant that Corzine got bashed without rebuttal by the station’s always amusing talk-show hosts for two months leading up to the election.

This permitted Christie to win despite his strategy, which was to focus on the cities rather than the suburbs. That strategy was a failure.

“Look at Newark, they were upside down 32,000 for him,” said Steve Acropolis, who is mayor of Brick Township in Ocean County. “East Orange was upside-down 10,000 for him.”

What saved Christie were the big suburbs in the 101.5 listening area such as Brick, where he piled up an 11,000-vote margin, and Toms River, where he got his biggest margin, more than 12,000.

Yet in a post-election meeting with the Ocean County mayors, the governor-elect told them they can’t expect to be getting more state aid as a result of their support. Acropolis said the suburban mayors don’t want special favors, just an equal share of state aid.

“I don’t want him to say we gave him the second highest vote total so we’re going to get extra stuff,” said Acropolis. “I just want what’s fair for our residents.”

Suburban residents realize next year will be a tough one because of the budget problems facing the state, he said. But their patience has a limit.

“He’s got four years and if he doesn’t do anything, he’ll be a one-term governor,” said the mayor.

That’s not a threat so much as a cold reality. The new map of New Jersey politics is not a promising one for Republicans. Bergen County used to ring up Republican margins as reliably as Ocean or Morris. But Christie managed to lose Bergen by a small margin. As for the cities, Christie is now the third Republican gubernatorial nominee in a row to fail miserably in a try at breaking the Democratic stranglehold on the urban vote.

That leaves those midstate suburbs as the battleground for any future elections. And they produced those huge margins not out of any great love for Christie, but out of intense dislike for Corzine, said pollster Murray.

“Nothing motivates a voter like anger,” said Murray. “And Christie had better hope they’re not angry in 2013.”

If he keeps up the way he’s going, they will be. And not at the Democrat.

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Bob Brown, Chris Christie, Monmouth University, opinion poll, Patrick Murry, Paul Mulshine

Patrick Murry: Christie’s Message of Change Lacks Hope

This blog post is from Patrick Murry’s blog “Real Numbers and Other Musings”and orginially appeared as a guest column for In The Lobby.

Chris Christie put out a new web video in response to President Barack Obama’s campaign stop for Governor Jon Corzine Thursday. Christie has been trying to use Obama’s “Change” mantra to unseat the incumbent, but has been having limited success in getting it to resonate with voters.


As I watched that video, the penny finally dropped on why this message wasn’t working for Christie. But first, a quick note about why Obama was here to begin with.

The inevitable question – or at least the question most reporters are asking – is whether Obama can really help Corzine’s reelection chances. The answer for that is found in two numbers: 87 and 64.

The former is President Obama’s job approval rating among New Jersey Democratic voters. The latter is Governor Corzine’s job rating among his fellow Democrats. Obama’s visit is not meant to sway undecided voters. It’s to get reluctant Democrats in Corzine’s column and out to the polls.

As part of our research strategy for this election, we have been tracking a panel of nearly 1,000 voters. Among the many shifts evident in this churning electorate, we’ve seen a small shift from undecided and other candidates to Corzine.

One Democratic voter who was leaning to Daggett in late September, but switched to Corzine in mid-October, said he was worried that the media would paint a Corzine loss as a referendum on Obama. As unhappy as he is with Corzine’s first term, this voter was reluctant to see the president suffer because of it. I assume he is not alone.

And that brings us back to Chris Christie. From the very beginning, the Republican’s camp has claimed that the electorate is in a “change” mood. Americans were unhappy with the way things were going in Washington and so they kicked out the Republicans in 2006 and 2008. Since New Jersey voters are similarly unhappy with the way things are going in Trenton, the Christie thinking goes, they’ll be just as willing to kick out the Democrats this year.

There are two problems with this line of thought. First, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Hades that the Democrats will lose control of the Assembly. In fact, if they lose more than two seats, the GOP can claim some sort of moral, albeit meaningless, victory.

The bigger problem, though, is that Christie’s campaign communications folks apparently read only half of the Obama playbook. His message in 2008 was not “Change.’ It was “Hope” and “Change.” Or more accurately “HopeandChange” – sometimes even shortened derisively to “Chope” by his critics. But it was effective. [A recent Jimmy Margulies cartoon about Corzine played off the hope theme.]

And that’s where Christie’s campaign has fumbled the message. His new web video starts out by using Obama’s voice over images of homeless men in Camden, figuratively depicting New Jersey as being on a one-way street presumably to nowhere.

Frankly, I found it depressing. That’s when it hit me. Chris Christie is offering a message of change without hope. And not just in this web video, but throughout his entire campaign.

The punditry and the media have focused on his lack of specifics, charging that he has not given voters a clear policy proposal that they can hang onto. I have said before that despite their discontent with the incumbent, voters still need to be able to say, “Here is something concrete that Chris Christie is going to do,” before they will vote for change. But the problem with lacking a specific message is larger than just the policy details.

A specific campaign promise is, in itself, a message of hope. And Christie’s campaign strategy has been lacking that element of hope from the very beginning.

Yes, I know that the Republican nominee has used phrases like “hope is on the way” and “New Jerseyans hope real change will come.” But listen closely to Christie’s rhetoric when he talks about state government. The tone lacks a sense of hope.

That doesn’t mean you can’t attack your opponent’s record. In fact, it still amazes me that Christie has not used every opportunity offered him, especially in the debates, to point out specific Corzine weaknesses – i.e. the governor’s failed toll hike plan and the fizzled-out special session to reform property taxes. These are the reasons why Jon Corzine’s job approval rating is so low and are fair game in this race.

Instead, Christie has chosen to speak in generalities about how Corzine has raised taxes. And rather than leave the blame at Corzine’s feet, he follows that up by saying that the mess in Trenton is due to chronic mismanagement by both parties over the years. A common refrain from Chris Christie is that New Jersey is broken.

And therein lies the problem. Attacking the incumbent is one thing, especially if done well (which it hasn’t been in this case). But who wants to vote for a guy whose underlying campaign theme is that we are all headed down the toilet? Maybe his delivery is just a byproduct of the prosecutorial personality. But it doesn’t resonate with independent voters who need a positive reason to go out and vote.

New Jersey voters already believe the state is broken. That doesn’t mean they want to be constantly reminded of it. They want someone who is going to lead them out of the wilderness. Not someone who is going to point out every dried-up stream and dead tree.

It’s all about hope and change, Mr. Christie. Change and Hope.

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Filed under blogs, Chris Christie, Gov. Jon Corzine, Monmouth University, Patrick Murry, President Obama

Patrick Murry: As the Voter Churns

Patrick Murry, founding director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, posted the following piece on his blog Real Numbers and Other Musings:

The conventional wisdom in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race is the better that Chris Daggett does, the worse Chris Christie does. Certainly, Daggett’s rise in the polls over the past four weeks is a nearly point for point match with Christie’s drop in support.

That certainly is true at the aggregate level, as I have noted elsewhere. Specifically, if you compare this week’s Quinnipiac Poll to the one they released September 1, you will find that Christie’s support dropped by 6 points, Corzine’s increased by 3, Daggett’s increased by 5 and Undecided decreased by 1. While Corzine made some gains, it seems the big switch was from Christie to Daggett, with Undecided remaining stable.

I stand by this analysis, but there may be more to this phenomenon than the naked eye can see. Research conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute with a panel of New Jersey voters indicates that this “net” effect may actually be masking a lot more individual-level churning in the electorate.

The first round of our online panel was interviewed September 23-28 (Wave 1). A total of 340 of these respondents then participated in a second round of interviews on October 9-14 (Wave 2). [Note: the intention of this panel study is to track individual level change over time. As such, it is not necessarily designed to be representative of candidate choice for the full electorate. That is why I refrain from reporting “horse race” percentages here. We’ll leave that for our standard telephone polling.]

The survey analysis divided the vote choice question into 14 separate categories. Those who make a candidate choice (Christie, Corzine, Daggett, Other) were asked if they are either “very sure” about their choice or “might change” their mind before election day – leading to a total of 8 categories. Those who initially indicate they are Undecided were then asked if they “lean” toward a candidate – producing 5 categories (Lean to Christie, Corzine, Daggett, Other or do not lean to any candidate). The final category is for those who say they will not cast a vote for governor on the ballot.

Read More >>> Here

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Filed under Chris Christie, Chris Dagget, Gov. Jon Corzine, Monmouth University, opinion poll, Patrick Murry

Poll: Among All Registered Voters Corzine has Over taken Christie

In the latest Monmouth University/Gannett Poll released Sunday, Governor Corzine has for the first time overtaken his opponent Chris Christie, in the race for New Jersey’s governorship.

Among all registered voters polled, Jon Corzine has a lead of 41% to 40% over Christie. This is significant since Christie had a 4 point lead among registered voters in the August poll and a 6 point lead in July.
the results also indicate there is a lot of churning in this electorate. Despite the incumbent’s continued unpopularity, there is still a sense that anything can happen.” said Patrick Murry the poll director .

Amog likely voters however, Christie still holds the leads over Corzine 47% to 39 %, but Christie’s lead is down 6 points from the advantage he held in August when he led Corzine 50 percent to 36 percent.

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Filed under Chris Christie, Chris Dagget, Gov. Jon Corzine, Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey poll, Patrick Murry