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Lautenberg Widens Lead

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008

Majority of state voters have no opinion of Republican Zimmer


The latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll finds Democratic incumbent Frank Lautenberg widening his lead over Republican challenger Dick Zimmer.  He currently leads among registered voters by 51% to 32%, and among likely voters by 52% to 36%.   In September, the Democrat held a 46% to 36% edge among likely voters.

Each candidate maintains widespread support among his partisan base – 84% of Democrats back Lautenberg and 77% of Republicans support Zimmer.  Independent voters give Lautenberg a 42% to 33% edge.

Currently, Lautenberg’s job performance rating stands at 48% approve to 28% disapprove, which is up from 45% to 33% in July.  His personal favorability ratings have also improved – 45% of voters now have a favorable opinion of Lautenberg compared to 24% who feel unfavorably toward the incumbent.  Another 30% have no opinion.

Dick Zimmer’s personal rating is 28% favorable to 16% unfavorable, which is basically unchanged since September.  However, this also means that 56% of voters still don’t know enough about the GOP nominee to give him a rating.

Few Garden State voters – just 12% – have been paying close attention to the senate election, compared with a whopping 66% who have been closely following the presidential campaign.  That’s not surprising, since the candidates have yet to make a joint appearance.  Their first of the campaign will be held today at 2:00 pm, when they will field questions from the Gannett New Jersey newspaper group’s editors.  The event will be shown live on the newspapers’ websites.

“With just two weeks to go, the incumbent’s stealth campaign appears to be succeeding. Of course, it certainly helps that his challenger has yet to introduce himself to most of the state’s voters,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  “Given the lack of visible campaign activity, Lautenberg seems to be coasting along on Obama’s coattails.”

The poll also found that Lautenberg continues to have a slight edge over Zimmer on being better able to help the state.  The incumbent leads the challenger 43% to 32% for understanding the problems of average New Jerseyans and 49% to 30% for his ability to ensure that New Jersey gets its fair share of federal funding.  These results are basically unchanged from prior polls.

Lautenberg’s age continues to be a non-issue for voters.  Just 29% of registered voters feel he is too old to be an effective senator, similar to the September poll results.  Only slightly more (36%) believe he is too old to serve out another six year term.   It should be noted that the September poll also found that most New Jersey voters underestimate  the 84 year old incumbent’s age by nine years on average.

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  was conducted by telephone with 900 New Jersey registered voters October 15-18, 2008.  This sample has a margin of error of  +/- 3.3 percent.  This report also includes analysis on a smaller group of 723 “likely voters” with a ±  3.7 percent margin of error.   The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Gannett New Jersey newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

  1. There will be an election for U.S. Senator from New Jersey in November. How much interest do you have in that election – a lot, some, a little, or none at all?

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

A lot 46% 53% 46% 41% 54% 47% 44% 33% 48% 55%
Some 28% 26% 30% 30% 25% 28% 29% 33% 26% 26%
A little 16% 13% 18% 19% 10% 16% 16% 18% 17% 13%
None at all 9% 7% 6% 10% 11% 8% 10% 16% 8% 6%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 0% 0% 1% 1% 0% 1% 0% 1% 0%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

 

  TREND:

October
2008

September
2008
July
2008

April
2008

A lot 46% 45% 47% 31%
Some 28% 31% 30% 31%
A little 16% 16% 13% 26%
None at all 9% 7% 10% 11%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 1% 1%
Unwtd N

900

689 874

720

 

  1. If the election for Senator was held today, would you vote for Dick Zimmer the Republican, Frank Lautenberg the Democrat, or some other candidate? [IF UNDECIDED: At this moment do you lean more towards Zimmer or more towards Lautenberg?]  [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
(with leaners)

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

Zimmer 32% 36% 5% 33% 77% 36% 28% 17% 35% 39%
Lautenberg 51% 52% 84% 42% 15% 51% 52% 62% 47% 50%
Other candidate 2% 2% 1% 5% 1% 1% 4% 1% 3% 3%
(VOL) Will note vote 4% 3% 3% 4% 3% 5% 2% 6% 3% 1%
(VOL) Undecided 11% 8% 8% 15% 4% 7% 14% 13% 11% 8%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

 

 TREND:

October 2008

September 2008

July 2008

 

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
Registered
Voters
Likely
Voters
Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters

Zimmer 32% 36% 33% 36% 34% 37%
Lautenberg 51% 52% 46% 46% 44% 45%
Other candidate 2% 2% 5% 5% 7% 6%
(VOL) Will note vote 4% 3% 1% 1% 1% 1%
(VOL) Undecided 11% 8% 16% 14% 13% 11%
Unwtd N

900

723 689 589 874

698

 

Composite Table: Strength of Vote Choice

  1. If the election for Senator was held today, would you vote for [ROTATE] Dick Zimmer the Republican, Frank Lautenberg the Democrat, or  some other candidate?

      3.  At this moment do you lean more towards Zimmer or more towards Lautenberg?

  1.  Are you very sure about voting for [Name]; or might you change your mind before Election Day?

October 2008

September 2008

July 2008

 

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
Registered
Voters
Likely
Voters
Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters

Sure Zimmer 22% 26% 22% 25% 21% 24%
Weak Zimmer 5% 5% 6% 6% 7% 7%
Lean Zimmer 5% 6% 5% 5% 6% 6%
Undecided-Other 14% 10% 21% 18% 21% 17%
Lean Lautenberg 6% 5% 5% 4% 5% 4%
Weak Lautenberg 10% 8% 10% 9% 11% 11%
Sure Lautenberg 38% 41% 31% 33% 29% 31%
Unwtd N

879

709 683 585 866

692

[QUESTIONS 5 AND 6 WERE ROTATED]

  1. Please tell me if your general impression of Frank Lautenberg is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion.

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

Favorable 45% 48% 68% 39% 21% 44% 46% 39% 48% 47%
Unfavorable 24% 26% 6% 25% 55% 28% 21% 16% 23% 32%
No opinion 30% 26% 26% 36% 24% 28% 33% 45% 30% 21%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

  TREND:

October
2008

September
2008
July
2008

April
2008

Favorable 45% 42% 34% 43%
Unfavorable 24% 28% 27% 30%
No opinion 30% 30% 39% 27%
Unwtd N

900

689 874

720

  1. Please tell me if your general impression of Dick Zimmer is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion.

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

Favorable 28% 31% 12% 27% 58% 32% 24% 21% 29% 31%
Unfavorable 16% 16% 24% 13% 8% 17% 15% 15% 17% 17%
No opinion 56% 53% 63% 60% 35% 52% 61% 65% 54% 52%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

  TREND:

October
2008

September
2008
July
2008

April
2008

Favorable 28% 27% 18% 9%
Unfavorable 16% 18% 11% 10%
No opinion 56% 55% 71% 80%
Unwtd N

900

689 874

720

 

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Frank Lautenberg is doing as United States Senator?

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

Approve 48% 49% 66% 44% 24% 46% 50% 47% 46% 51%
Disapprove 28% 32% 10% 31% 57% 32% 25% 18% 31% 34%
(VOL) Don’t know 24% 19% 23% 24% 19% 22% 25% 35% 23% 16%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

 

TREND:
Registered voters only

October
2008

July
2008
April
2008

January
2008

Approve 48% 45% 48% 43%
Disapprove 28% 33% 31% 28%
(VOL) Don’t know 24% 22% 21% 30%
Unwtd N

900

874 720

698

[QUESTIONS 8 & 9 WERE ROTATED]

  1. Which candidate – Lautenberg, Zimmer, both, or neither one – understands the problems of average New Jerseyans?

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

Lautenberg 27% 29% 50% 18% 4% 25% 28% 24% 25% 31%
Zimmer 16% 17% 2% 16% 40% 19% 13% 13% 16% 19%
Both 16% 16% 15% 18% 14% 13% 18% 18% 15% 15%
Neither 24% 23% 17% 33% 22% 26% 23% 20% 29% 22%
(VOL) Don’t know 17% 15% 16% 15% 20% 16% 17% 25% 16% 12%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

  TREND:

October
2008

September
2008

July
2008

Lautenberg 27% 29% 24%
Zimmer 16% 20% 12%
Both 16% 9% 15%
Neither 24% 21% 29%
(VOL) Don’t know 17% 20% 21%
Unwtd N

900

689

874

 

  1. Which candidate – Lautenberg, Zimmer, both, or neither one – will make sure New Jersey gets its fair share of federal funding?

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

Lautenberg 33% 36% 58% 21% 13% 32% 34% 30% 32% 38%
Zimmer 14% 14% 4% 12% 33% 14% 13% 13% 12% 17%
Both 16% 16% 12% 21% 17% 17% 16% 18% 16% 15%
Neither 18% 16% 12% 26% 12% 21% 15% 13% 21% 17%
(VOL) Don’t know 19% 18% 15% 19% 24% 15% 22% 26% 19% 14%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

 

  TREND:

October
2008

September
2008

July
2008

Lautenberg 33% 35% 29%
Zimmer 14% 15% 12%
Both 16% 11% 11%
Neither 18% 18% 24%
(VOL) Don’t know 19% 20% 24%
Unwtd N

900

689

874

 

[Question 10 was asked of a random half-sample: moe= ± 4.6%]

  1. Do you agree or disagree that Frank Lautenberg is too old to be an effective senator?

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

 Agree 29% 33% 21% 27% 42% 34% 25% 22% 30% 34%
 Disagree 61% 59% 68% 63% 51% 59% 63% 60% 64% 57%
(VOL) Don’t know 10% 8% 11% 10% 7% 7% 12% 18% 6% 8%
Unwtd N

451

359 169 161 111 226 225 79 204

160

  TREND:

October
2008

September
2008
July
2008
April
2008

January
2008

  Agree 29% 31% 31% 41% 34%
  Disagree 61% 57% 54% 46% 51%
  (VOL) Don’t know 10% 12% 15% 13% 15%
  Unwtd N

451

689 435 639

698

[Question 11 was asked of a random half-sample: moe= ± 4.6%]

  1. Do you agree or disagree that Frank Lautenberg is too old to effectively serve another six year term as senator?

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

 Agree 36% 35% 27% 38% 51% 38% 34% 28% 39% 36%
 Disagree 52% 56% 59% 52% 39% 54% 50% 53% 48% 57%
(VOL) Don’t know 13% 9% 14% 10% 10% 8% 16% 19% 13% 7%
Unwtd N

449

364 174 170 93 206 243 79 191

171

  1. How closely have you been following the campaign for U.S. Senate so far – very closely, somewhat closely, or not very closely?

Registered
Voters

Likely
Voters
PARTY ID GENDER

AGE

Dem

Ind Rep Male Female 18-34 35-54

55+

Very closely 12% 14% 13% 9% 14% 11% 13% 6% 13% 15%
Somewhat closely 38% 40% 38% 36% 41% 39% 37% 37% 33% 44%
Not very closely 49% 46% 48% 54% 45% 50% 49% 56% 53% 41%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 0% 2% 0% 0% 2% 1% 2% 0%
Unwtd N

900

723 343 331 204 432 468 158 395

331

  TREND:

October
2008

September
2008
July
2008

April
2008

Very closely 12% 6% 11% 6%
Somewhat closely 38% 35% 38% 25%
Not very closely 49% 59% 50% 68%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 1% 1%
Unwtd N

900

689 874

720

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll was conducted and analyzed by the Monmouth University Polling Institute research staff.  The telephone interviews were collected by Braun Research on October 15-18, 2008 with a statewide random sample of 900 registered voters. For results based on this voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.3 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.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS

Registered Voter Sample (weighted)

40% Dem 47% Male 26% 18-34

68% White

37% Ind 53% Female 43% 35-54

13% Black

23% Rep   31% 55+

11% Hispanic

     

8% Asian/Other

Likely Voter Sample (weighted)

42% Dem 48% Male 22% 18-34

70% White

32% Ind 52% Female 46% 35-54

13% Black

26% Rep   32% 55+

11% Hispanic

     

  6% Asian/Other

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables