The State Houses – What’s At Stake in 2010

Thirty-nine states will be electing a governor during the 2009-2010 election cycle. Of these, eighteen races will not include an incumbent and four incumbents who will be running were not elected to their current position. The recession and huge budget deficits threaten to undercut the power of incumbency for governors running for reelection.

The Current Line-Up


PollWatch: A Garden State Pollapalooza Buffet

By · Sep, 02 2009

Pollsters are scouring the Garden State hoping for fertile information about the gubernatorial race between Jon Corzine and Chris Christie. Where does the race stand as the campaigns and media get ready for the post-Labor Day dash to the finish line? Are the candidates gaining traction from the television and radio spots? Is Christie sustaining damage from the daily dose of bad news that marked most of August? Which candidate does Chris Daggett’s independent candidacy hurt the most?

At least four polls have been released over the past week and the only thing they agree on is that GOPer Christie leads incumbent Jon Corzine. But there is no consensus as to whether this race will become a Christie cakewalk or a down-to-the-wire nail-biter. Some say Christie has increased his lead over the incumbent while others see the race shifting in Corzine’s direction. The aggregate shows a slight tightening of the race.


Rasmussen, who at one point had Christie over the magical 50% barrier, now shows the race closing slightly, with Corzine trailing by eleven (47-36%). James Carville’s outfit, Democracy Corps, commissioned a surveythat revealed a much closer race (perhaps a case of wishful thinking on the part of partisan Democrats?), with Christie holding a slim 2-point margin (43-41%) with Daggett attracting 7% of the vote. Both polls were out in the field at the same time (Rasmussen 8/25 and Democracy Corps 8/25-26). Rasmussen often has a GOP-lean in its polling and it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner has a rooting interest in seeing Corzine close the gap.  Going into this past weekend, it’s likely the race was probably somewhere between the two.

This week we got two new polls that sow further confusion, as they both show a slightly widening lead for Christie. It should be noted these shifts are well within the fluctuations that could be attributed to the MoE, but these slight shifts drive headlines and create public perceptions.  Quinnipiacshows Christie’s lead growing since it last measure the race three weeks ago. He currently garners 47% to Corzine’s 37% with Daggett getting an impressive 9%.  the Q-Poll also asked about the various attacks that have dominated the campaign through the dog days of August and finds that while voters don’t seem to think the campaign’s nastiness is any worse than previous statewide contests, they do view Corzine’s attacks as more unfair than Christie’s. Another post on those findings will follow shortly.  

The final poll, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind survey (pdf) shows a five point edge (47-42%) for Christie. Inexplicably, FDU neglected to include Daggett in the questioning.

Some interesting morsels from the polling buffet:

  • When Quinnipiac asked respondents whether they had favorable views of the candidates, there are worrisome trends for Christie. While Corzine carries a horrific net negative favorability rating of minus twenty-three (34-57%), they haven’t budged at all through three Q-Poll summer surveys.  Christie, on the other hand, has seen his negative numbers steadily rise. In July he sported a net favorable rating of +19, with 39% viewing him positively and 20% holding a negative view. In July, 40% didn’t yet know enough to express an opinion. That number has shrunk to 27% in the current survey with most of the movement against Christie. His net positive rating has shrunk to +11, with a steady 41% positive, 30% negative. If that trend continues, Christie could be close to a negative net rating come Election Day. It could present a difficult challenge for a Republican in such a deeply Democratic state to overcome numbers in that range.
  • Christie may already be in the favorability “danger zone” as Rasmussen already shows him with a slim (48-51%) negative favorability.
  • Ramussen finds that Obama could be an asset on the NJ campaign trail (by a 39-19 margin), despite the president’s declining job approval numbers in the Garden State.
  • There is consensus among the pollsters regarding how NJ feels about the incumbents job performance. Barely one third (Rasmussen 35%, Quinnipiac 37%, FDU 37%) approve of the job Corzine is doing as governor. He hasn’t moved these numbers in any significant way. With his campaign’s current attack strategy, it isn’t likely they’ll see any upward movement between now and election day. If Corzine’s going to win another term, it will probably be because he’s chipped away at Christie’s image rather than elevate his own.
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