West Long Branch, NJ – The Democratic challenger has an edge against the previously Democratic incumbent in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll finds that Jeff Van Drew’s party switch is more of an issue for district voters than Amy Kennedy’s famous in-laws. The two candidates are on basically equal footing when it comes to understanding the needs of South Jersey. In the presidential election, this district flipped from Democrat in 2012 to Republican in 2016, and it looks like it might flip back again next month.
Among all registered voters, Kennedy is supported by 49% and Van Drew is supported by 44%. Another 1% say they will support a third party candidate and 5% are undecided. Among likely voters in a high turnout scenario, Kennedy holds a 50% to 44% edge. She maintains that lead in a lower turnout model with 51% supporting her to 44% for Van Drew. It should be noted that these leads are all within the survey’s margin of error.
Kennedy holds a 94% to 1% advantage among Democratic voters while Van Drew has an 89% to 8% lead among his now-fellow Republicans. Independents prefer Kennedy by a 50% to 40% margin. The challenger has a sizable lead of 54% to 39% in her home county (Atlantic) but also has a small edge in the incumbent’s own backyard. She holds a 48% to 43% lead in Cape May and Cumberland counties, which Van Drew represented in the state legislature for 16 years before winning his current office in 2018. The Republican holds a lead in the rest of the district of 51% to 45% for Kennedy. Running as a Democrat for the then-open seat two years ago, Van Drew won Atlantic County by nearly 15 points and Cape May and Cumberland counties combined by 13 points. He lost the remainder of the district by 6 points.
“Cape May and Cumberland county voters got used to supporting Van Drew on the Democratic ticket. This time around many of them are sticking with the party rather than the candidate,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Nearly half of NJ02 voters are bothered by Van Drew being elected as a Democrat but now running for reelection as a Republican. This includes 35% who say it bothers them a lot and 12% a little, while 51% say it does not bother them. Nearly 9-in-10 Democrats (87%) and half of independents (46%) are bothered by the incumbent’s change of party affiliation, compared with 15% of Republicans who feel that way. Of note, 12% of Van Drew’s constituents say they were not aware of his party change.
District voters are split on what they think of Van Drew – 40% have a favorable opinion and 41% have an unfavorable view. Kennedy gets a 39% favorable and 31% unfavorable rating. A majority of NJ02 voters say the incumbent understands which issues are most important in South Jersey (34% great deal and 21% some), but a similar number say the same about the lesser-known challenger (24% great deal and 25% some). Another 32% say Van Drew does not understand South Jersey and 13% are unsure, while 28% say Kennedy does not understand South Jersey and 23% are unsure.
Two-thirds of voters (68%) are aware that Kennedy married into the famous political family from Massachusetts. Most voters (60%) say this connection has no impact on them while 20% see it as a positive and 17% see it as a negative.
“Kennedy was born and raised in the district and that connection is apparently what most voters are judging her on rather than her last name,” said Murray.
In the presidential election, Joe Biden holds a small lead over Donald Trump in the district – 48% to 45% among all registered voters, 50% to 45% among likely voters in a high turnout election, and 49% to 45% in a low turnout election. Trump won this district by 5 points in 2016 after Barack Obama prevailed by 8 points four years earlier.
The incumbent president gets an upside down job rating – 45% approve and 51% disapprove – in the district. Just 41% have a favorable view of Trump personally and 52% have an unfavorable opinion of him. Biden gets a split 45% favorable and 48% unfavorable rating.
“Van Drew scored a major coup when he brought the president to Wildwood earlier this year. That event certainly stoked Trump’s base, but it fired up Democratic voters as well. This Obama-Trump district could be going back to blue next month,” said Murray.
Similar numbers of Democrats (69%) and Republicans (68%) in NJ02 say they are more enthusiastic this year compared to past elections. However, Republicans (51%) are much more likely to feel very optimistic about how the presidential race will turn out than Democrats (18%) are.
In New Jersey’s U.S. Senate contest, incumbent Democrat Cory Booker leads Republican challenger Rik Mehta by 47% to 39% among registered voters in the 2nd district. Booker’s lead stands at 48% to 40% among likely voters in a high turnout scenario and 47% to 41% in a low turnout model.
Governor Phil Murphy garners a positive job rating from voters in this South Jersey district – 50% approve and 43% disapprove.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone and online from September 26 to October 1, 2020 with 588 registered voters in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District sampled from a voter list file. The question results in this release have a margin of error +/- 4.1 percentage points. 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.)
[Note: Voters who report already casting their ballots were asked, “In the election for X, did you vote for…” for Q1-3.]
1.If the election for U.S. House of Representatives in your district was held today, would you vote for … Jeff Van Drew the Republican, Amy Kennedy the Democrat, or another candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Jeff Van Drew or Amy Kennedy?]
|REGISTERED VOTERS |
|Jeff Van Drew||44%|
|(VOL) No one||<1%|
2.If the election for President was today, would you vote for … Donald Trump the Republican, Joe Biden the Democrat, Jo Jorgensen the Libertarian, Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, or another candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Donald Trump or Joe Biden?]
|REGISTERED VOTERS |
|(VOL) No one||<1%|
3.If the election for U.S. Senate was today, would you vote for … Rik Mehta the Republican, Cory Booker the Democrat, or another candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Rik Mehta or Cory Booker?]
| REGISTERED VOTERS|
|(VOL) No one||1%|
4.Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the 2020 presidential election? [Is that very or somewhat optimistic/pessimistic]?
|(VOL) Neither, don’t care||2%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
5.How motivated are you to vote in the November election for president – very motivated, somewhat motivated, or not that motivated?
|Not that motivated||4%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||0%|
6.Compared to past elections, are you more enthusiastic than usual, less enthusiastic, or about the same as past elections?
|About the same||25%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||1%|
7.Please tell me if your general impression of each of the following people is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion. [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
Jeff Van Drew
[QUESTIONS 8 & 9 WERE ROTATED]
8.How much does Jeff Van Drew understand which issues are most important in South Jersey – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?
|Not at all||19%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||13%|
9.How much does Amy Kennedy understand which issues are most important in South Jersey – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?
|Not at all||13%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||23%|
10.Were you aware that Congressman Van Drew changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican last year, or hadn’t you heard about this?
11.Does it bother you that Van Drew was elected to office as a Democrat but is running for re-election as a Republican – does it bother you a lot, a little, or not at all?
|Not at all||51%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
12.Were you aware that Amy Kennedy is married to a member of the Kennedy family from Massachusetts, that included President John F. Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy and other well-known politicians, or hadn’t you heard about this?
13.Do you see it as a positive or negative that Amy Kennedy is related to the famous political family, or does it have no impact on you either way?
|(VOL) Don’t know||3%|
[QUESTIONS 14 & 15 WERE ROTATED]
14.Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?
|(VOL) Don’t know||3%|
15.Do you approve or disapprove of the job Phil Murphy is doing as governor?
|(VOL) Don’t know||7%|
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 26 to October 1, 2020 with a random sample of 588 voters in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District drawn from a list of registered voters. This includes 200 contacted by a live interviewer in English (80 on a landline telephone and 120 on a cell phone) and 388 conducted online in English recruited via email invitation from a voter list file. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for party registration, age, gender, race, education, and region based on state voter registration list information and U.S. Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (phone field) and Aristotle (phone and email voter samples). For results based on the full voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.1 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.
|81% White, non-Hispanic|
|66% No degree|
|34% 4 year degree|
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.