In what looked to be a potential surprise in New Jersey's 5 th House district contest, GOP incumbent Scott Garrett has extended his lead to a more comfortable 11 points over Democrat Roy Cho. A Monmouth University Poll conducted earlier this month showed the race to be a closer 5 point margin. Garrett's renewed engagement in the campaign since then has built his advantage to a level the six-term incumbent is more accustomed to seeing.
Among voters likely to cast their ballot in next week's congressional race, 53% say they will support Scott Garrett and 42% will vote for first-time candidate Roy Cho. Another 2% say they will vote for the third party candidate and just 3% are undecided. Garrett's support has grown over the past few weeks while Cho's has remained stable. Two weeks ago, Garrett led Cho by 48% to 43%.
Independents have shifted more decisively for Garrett, now supporting the incumbent 51% to 42% for Cho. Monmouth's earlier poll had Garrett's edge among this group at a more narrow 45% to 42%.
The poll also finds that Cho has lost the advantage he held in the Bergen County portion of the district. He trails Garrett there by 48% to 46%. Two weeks ago, Cho actually led in Bergen by 51% to 39% for Garrett. Garrett continues to maintain a large lead in the more conservative western portion of the district - 65% to 31%.
"This race was flying under the radar just one month ago. Garrett was running a phone-it-in campaign that was compounded by a misstep around Sandy recovery. The incumbent is now much more engaged in the race," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. "While Cho has run a strong campaign, the national environment, as well as the underlying fundamentals of this district, are too favorable to Republicans for him to overcome a full Garrett offensive without outside help from national Democrats. That help never materialized, but it may not have been enough this year once Garrett swung into campaign mode."
The race seemed to turn on a Garrett campaign flyer touting his actions after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. Two weeks ago, 5 th district voters were divided on Garrett's assistance to New Jersey residents, but they were more positive about his actions for his own constituents. That distinction has evaporated. Nearly half of voters (44%) now say he did a good job helping people in New Jersey recover from Sandy while 28% say he did a bad job. Two weeks ago, 38% said he did a good job and 35% said he did a bad job statewide. Turning to his own district, 46% say Garrett did a good job helping his own constituents and 27% say he did a bad job. These findings are nearly identical to the Monmouth poll conducted two weeks ago.
The Monmouth University Poll found that positive views of the incumbent have increased over the past two weeks while there has been a similar increase in negative views of the challenger. Currently, 46% of voters have a favorable view of Scott Garrett - which is up from 40% - while 30% have an unfavorable view - similar to 29% from two weeks ago. A smaller number of voters (29%) have a favorable view of Roy Cho - which is basically unchanged from 30% - while 16% have an unfavorable opinion - up from 7% two weeks ago. Fully half (54%) of likely voters in New Jersey's 5 th district have no opinion of Cho and 24% have no opinion of Garrett.
Garrett has a very slight edge on the issue of voter trust. When asked which candidate is honest and trustworthy, 26% of 5 th district voters say only Garrett is, 19% say only Cho is, and 15% say both are. Another 24% of likely voters say that neither candidate is honest and trustworthy and 16% have no opinion.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from October 27 to 29, 2014 with 427 New Jersey voters likely to vote in New Jersey's 5 th Congressional District November general election. This sample has a margin of error of ± 4.8 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The questions referred to in this release are as follows:
1. If the election for U.S. Congress in your district was today, would you vote for Scott Garrett, the Republican, Roy Cho, the Democrat or some other candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [IF UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following at this moment, do you lean more toward Scott Garrett or more toward Roy Cho?]
[QUESTIONS 2 AND 3 WERE ROTATED]
2. Is your general opinion of Scott Garrett favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
3. Is your general opinion of Roy Cho favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
4. Which candidate is honest and trustworthy – Scott Garrett, Roy Cho, both of them, or neither of them?
[Question 5 was asked of a random half-sample: n=215, moe=+/-6.7%]
5. Do you think Congressman Garrett did a good job or bad job helping people in New Jersey recover from Superstorm Sandy?
[Question 6 was asked of a random half-sample: n=212, moe=+/-6.7%]
6. Do you think Congressman Garrett did a good job or bad job helping people in your Congressional District recover from Superstorm Sandy?
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from October 27 to 29, 2014 with a statewide random sample of 427 likely voters in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District drawn from a list of registered voters who voted in at least two of the last four general elections and indicate they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. This includes 360 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 67 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, gender, and party registration based on state registration list information on the pool of voters who have participated in two of the last four elections. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and L2 (voter list). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.
Download this Poll Report with all tables