Challenger Barbara Buono has been unable to cut further into Chris Christie's sizable re-election margin after making up some ground in August. The Monmouth University Poll also finds that New Jersey voters do not think this year's campaign has done a particularly good job addressing New Jersey's most pressing issues, and few are either "excited" or "scared" by the prospect of either candidate winning.
Garden State voters likely to participate in the November election give incumbent Gov. Chris Christie a 56% to 37% lead over state Sen. Barbara Buono, nearly identical to the 56% to 36% spread in Monmouth's August poll. That late summer poll had marked an improvement for Buono from a 30 point deficit recorded in June, largely due to Democratic voters moving to support their own party's nominee. However, there has been almost no movement since the summer. Buono garners support from 68% of Democrats in the current poll, which is significantly lower than the 89% support Christie holds among his fellow Republicans. These reports are very similar to the August poll. Independents have moved only a little and give the incumbent 2-to-1 support in his re-election bid - 60% for Christie to 30% for Buono from 64% to 23% in August.
More than 8-in-10 likely voters say they won't change their minds about who to support in this election. Christie now claims 50% of likely voters who support him and say they will not change their mind before November 5. Buono musters firm support from just 33% of likely voters.
"Christie's level of firm support means the eventual winner is not in question. The only unknown is the final margin of victory," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Just 34% of likely voters say that this year's campaign for governor has done a good job talking about the most important issues affecting New Jersey. More voters - 42% - say it has done a bad job and another 24% haven't heard enough to offer an opinion. Christie supporters are more likely to say the overall campaign has done a good job (48%) rather than a bad job (31%) addressing the state's important issues. Buono supporters express the opposite view, with 57% saying this election has done a bad job highlighting important issues to just 17% who say it has done a good job.
"Voters are not really impressed with the substance of this campaign. Because of this, we are unlikely to see dancing in the streets of New Jersey on Nov. 5, regardless of the outcome," said Murray.
Half of Garden State voters have a positive outlook on the prospect of Chris Christie's re-election, with 16% saying they would feel excited if he secured a second term and 34% who would feel optimistic. Less than 4-in-10 take a negative view, with 24% saying they would be concerned and 13% who would be scared. Another 11% say that a Christie win wouldn't matter much to them personally.
New Jersey voters take the opposite view of a potential Barbara Buono upset. Less than 4-in-10 would feel either excited (8%) or optimistic (28%) if she won, compared to about half who would feel either concerned (28%) or scared (21%). Another 13% say it wouldn't matter to them personally if Buono won.
Interestingly, the prospect of either outcome does not provoke extreme reactions, even among the two candidates' supporters. Just 28% of Christie voters say they would be excited if their choice prevailed, while only 36% say they would be scared if Buono beat him. Just 20% of Buono supporters would be excited if she was elected governor, while only 32% of would be scared by the prospect of a second Christie term.
Most likely voters (55%) continue to have a favorable opinion of Gov. Christie, while just 35% hold an unfavorable view. This is down slightly from the 59% positive to 33% negative rating he received in August, but the difference is within the poll's margin of error.
Sen. Buono is becoming better known to voters. Those unable to offer an opinion of the Democratic nominee dropped from nearly half in August to one-third in the current poll. The growth in her awareness though has been more negative than positive. Buono's favorable rating stands at 32%, up 5 points since August, but her negative rating is 35%, which is up 10 points since August.
This election marks just the second time that New Jersey gubernatorial candidates will be joined on the ballot by lieutenant governor running mates. Few voters have an opinion of either major party candidate for the LG slot. Just 3-in-10 likely voters have an opinion of Christie's running mate Kim Guadagno, despite the fact that she has held the office through his first term. Just 16% have a favorable opinion of the incumbent compared to 14% who have an unfavorable one. Only 1-in-10 likely voters have an opinion of Buono's running mate, labor leader Milly Silva - 5% have a favorable opinion of her and 6% hold an unfavorable view.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 26 to 29, 2013 with 615 New Jersey voters likely to vote in the November general election. This sample has a margin of error of ± 4.0 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 New Jersey Governor was today, would you vote for Chris Christie, the Republican, Barbara Buono, the Democrat or some other candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [IF UNDECIDED: At this moment, do you lean toward Chris Christie or lean toward Barbara Buono?]
[QUESTIONS 2 AND 3 WERE ROTATED]
2. Is your general opinion of Chris Christie favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
3. Is your general opinion of Barbara Buono favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of her?
[QUESTIONS 4 AND 5 WERE ROTATED]
4. Is your general opinion of Kim Guadagno favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of her?
5. Is your general opinion of Milly Silva favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of her?
6. Has this year’s election campaign for governor done a good job or bad job talking about the most important issues facing New Jersey today?
[QUESTIONS 7 AND 8 WERE ROTATED]
7. If Chris Christie is re-elected governor would you feel excited, optimistic, concerned, or scared, or wouldn’t it matter much to you?
8. If Barbara Buono is elected governor would you feel excited, optimistic, concerned, or scared, or wouldn’t it matter much to you?
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 26 to 29, 2013 with a statewide random sample of 615 likely voters drawn from a list of registered voters who voted in at least two of the last four general elections, including 498 contacted by interactive voice response (IVR) on a landline telephone and 117 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis. 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 4.0 percentage points. Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample. 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.
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