I just thought that this new poll was interesting. What do you guys think?
DONNA DE LA CRUZ
WASHINGTON - Less than a week before Election Day, one of the state’s most prominent political polls continues to show President Bush and John Kerry locked in a standoff among likely New Jersey voters.
Quinnipiac University’s survey released Wednesday showed Bush and Kerry in a 46-46 percent deadlock, and the poll’s director said fears of terrorism are aiding Bush in a state he lost by 16 percentage points four years ago.
“Many New Jersey voters face security checks as they commute to New York,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “They remember 700 Garden State neighbors lost on Sept. 11 and see the wounded skyline where the World Trade Center stood.”
While several other polls released last week indicate Kerry holds varying leads in the race, Carroll’s polling has not shown a great shift among New Jersey voters since late August, between the national conventions.
At the time - after the Democratic National Convention but before the Republican shindig - Kerry enjoyed a lead of 10 percentage points, and pundits put New Jersey’s 15 electoral votes in the Democratic column. Precedent seemed to back up the predictions: New Jersey has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.
Then came the Republican convention in New York, with its heavy use of Sept. 11 images. A month later, a Quinnipiac poll showed the two candidates locked in a 48-48 percent tie among likely voters.
Terrorism is still the main reason why Bush is doing well in New Jersey, according to the latest poll. It shows 53 percent of voters saying Bush would do a better job combatting terrorism to 37 percent who say Kerry would.
“Dealing with terrorism is President Bush’s strongest voter appeal,” Carroll added. “Even 24 percent of Democrats (in the latest poll) say Bush would do a better job dealing with terrorism.”
Kerry has never been the favorite Democratic candidate among New Jersey voters, according to past Quinnipiac polls. One 2003 survey showed that New Jerseyans favored New York Sen. Hillary Clinton over any other Democratic candidate, with Bush trouncing Kerry 53-37 percent. New Jerseyans have also favored Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman over Kerry.
And Kerry has never been able to garner more than 49 percent of support from state voters, according to Quinnipiac. At this time in 2000, a Quinnipiac poll showed that Al Gore had a 50-38 percent margin over Bush among likely New Jersey voters.
Several other polls released last week show Kerry with an edge over Bush among New Jersey’s likely voters.
Kerry had a 46-40 percent lead in a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll that had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
A Star-Ledger/Rutgers-Eagleton Institute poll showed Kerry leading Bush by 13 percentage points. The survey’s sampling error margin was plus or minus 4 percentage points. And a poll done on behalf of The Record of Bergen County showed Kerry with a 50-43 percent edge, with a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The latest Quinnipiac poll asked voters whether it was important for a presidential candidate to visit a state, referring to Bush’s trip to Evesham Township on Oct. 18.
“That little drop in by Bush last week did have some effect, with 27 percent saying it was very important and 26 percent saying it was somewhat important,” Carroll said.
In 2000, New Jersey was ignored by both Gore and Bush when it came to campaigning. Kerry last campaigned in New Jersey in June; that was before he accepted the Democratic nomination.
The latest Quinnipiac poll surveyed 852 likely voters from Oct. 21 to Oct. 25 and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Two percent of likely voters said they would vote for independent candidate Ralph Nader. Six percent of likely voters said they were undecided.
Historically, undecided voters typically vote for the challenger, Carroll said.
In an Oct. 19 poll, Kerry and Bush were nearly tied, with the Democrat holding a 49-45 percent edge among likely voters. That poll had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Among the larger pool of 1,179 registered voters polled, Kerry had the slimmest of edges with a 45-41 percent advantage over Bush. That survey has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.