West Long Branch, NJ – The race to fill New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District seat is close with Democrat Mikie Sherrill holding a slight lead over Republican Jay Webber among likely voters, according to the Monmouth University Poll. Neither candidate is particularly well-known at this point in the race, but Democratic enthusiasm is giving this traditionally red district a purplish hue. The poll also finds that the GOP tax reform plan does not play all that well in one of the richest congressional districts in the country.
Sherrill, a former Navy pilot, is supported by 40% and state legislator Webber is supported by 38% of all potential voters – that is voters who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote (a group that represents about 84% of all registered voters in the district). Another 20% are undecided. The Democrat’s advantage widens when applying two different likely voter models. A historical midterm model gives Sherrill a 44% to 40% lead, while a model that includes a turnout surge in Democratic precincts gives Sherrill a 45% to 39% lead. The Democrat’s lead is within the margin of error for the models and the likely electorate includes a sizable number of undecided voters (15% in both models).
Among all potential voters, Sherrill has stronger support among her fellow Democrats (92% to 1% for Webber) than Webber has among his fellow Republicans (78% to 6% for Sherrill). The two are basically tied among independents at 32% for Sherrill and 31% for Webber. However, neither candidate is particularly well known. Sherrill has a 31% favorable, 7% unfavorable, and 62% no opinion rating. Webber has a 22% favorable, 12% unfavorable, and 66% no opinion rating.
The partisan enthusiasm gap is making this traditionally Republican district competitive for the first time in decades. A majority of all voters (55%) have a lot of interest in this election, but self-identified Democrats (67%) are significantly more likely than Republicans (48%) to feel that way.
“Right now this race is more about underlying partisan enthusiasm than it is about either of the two major party candidates because, to be frank, most voters don’t know much about either one of them. There is still a lot of room for movement in this race with the high number of undecided voters and low level of knowledge about the candidates,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll also finds that NJ-11 voters are split on the tax reform plan passed by Congress in December – 40% approve and 43% disapprove. Twice as many voters, though, expect that their own federal taxes will go up (38%) as say they will go down (19%) because of the new reforms, while another 32% expect to see no change in what they pay. One-third (32%) say the tax plan will have a major impact on their vote for Congress this year – and this group divides its support more toward Sherrill (47%) than toward Webber (39%). According to recent census data, NJ-11 has one of the wealthiest electorates in the country, a group that might be expected to benefit from the new tax code. But due to New Jersey’s high property tax rates, these voters are among those most likely to get hit by the cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions.
“The recently passed tax reform bill may be the Trump presidency’s biggest legislative accomplishment to date, but it doesn’t play well in a district where the SALT cap is likely to hit hard,” said Murray. He added, “You wonder whether Sherrill would be doing even better if Frelinghuysen had chosen to run again, since it would have been harder for a party leader to separate himself from the Republican plan despite his own vote against it.”
Voters in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District are divided on their assessment of Donald Trump – with 47% approving of the president’s job performance and 49% disapproving. They are slightly more likely to oppose (49%) rather than support (43%) what Trump is doing on most issues. Opponents (73%) are much more likely than supporters (56%) to say that it is very important for them to cast a vote for Congress that registers their feelings about the president.
NJ-11 voters are divided on whether they would rather see Republicans (40%) or Democrats (38%) in control of Congress, with another 18% saying that party control does not matter to them. When voters evaluate both parties, the GOP gets ever so slightly better positive ratings – 35% favorable to 46% unfavorable for the Republican Party compared with 30% favorable to 44% unfavorable for the Democratic Party.
“Many voters in this district maintain a lifelong affiliation with the Republican Party. It’s just a different type of Republican Party than the one they see in control in Washington today. This political disconnect with the party is one factor that increases the district’s potential to flip,” said Murray.
Outgoing House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen – whose retirement led to the open contest for this seat – won this district by a minimum of 19 points in every election since his first victory in 1994. In presidential voting, Mitt Romney won the district by 6 points in 2012 and Trump won it by one point in 2016.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 22 to 25, 2018 with 406 New Jersey voters in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District November general election. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 5.3 percentage points for the likely voter models. The error of the gap between the two candidates’ vote share (i.e. the margin of the “lead”) is +/- 6.7 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 7.4 percentage points for the likely voter models. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
QUESTIONS AND RESULTS
(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)
1/2. If the election for U.S. House of Representatives in your district was today, would you vote for Jay Webber the Republican or Mikie Sherrill the Democrat, or some other candidate? [IF UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following at this moment, do you lean more toward Jay Webber or more toward Mikie Sherrill?] [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
Likely Voter Models
[QUESTIONS 3 & 4 WERE ROTATED]
3. Is your general impression of Jay Webber favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
4. Is your general impression of Mikie Sherrill favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of her?
5. How much interest do you have in the upcoming election for House of Representatives – a lot of interest, a little interest, or not much interest at all?
|Not much at all||17%|
|(VOL) Don’t Know||0%|
6. Have you been following the campaign in your Congressional district very closely, somewhat closely, or not too closely?
|Not too closely||48%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||0%|
7. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president? [Do you (approve/disapprove) strongly or somewhat?]
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%|
8. On most issues would you say you support or oppose what President Trump is doing?
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
9. How important is it for you to cast a vote for Congress that shows your [support of/opposition to] President Trump – very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?
|Not too important||5%|
|Not at all important||3%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||9%|
[QUESTIONS 10 & 11 WERE ROTATED]
10. Is your general impression of the Republican Party favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?
11. Is your general impression of the Democratic Party favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?
12. Would you rather see the Republicans or the Democrats in control of Congress, or doesn’t this matter to you?
|Does not matter||18%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%|
13. Do you approve or disapprove of the tax reform plan passed by Congress in December? [Do you (approve/disapprove) strongly or somewhat?]
|(VOL) Don’t know||17%|
14. Under this new tax plan, do you think the federal taxes you pay will go up, go down, or stay about the same?
|Stay about the same||32%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||11%|
15. Will this new tax plan have a major impact, minor impact, or no impact on your vote for Congress this year?
|(VOL) Don’t know||5%|
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from June 22 to June 25, 2018 with a random sample of 406 potential voters in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, drawn from a list of registered voters who voted in at least one of the last four general or primary elections or have registered to vote since January 2016. This includes 230 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 176 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, party registration, age, gender, education and race based on state voter registration list and U.S. Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and L2 (voter sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). 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.
Self-Reported Party ID
|79% White, non-Hispanic|
|44% No college degree|
|56% 4-year college degree|
|25% Essex County|
|58% Morris/Sussex Counties|
|17% Passaic County|
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.