It is always one thing to say you're gaining on your competition, but to actually get in a position to surpass him or her is another thing entirely. And while Jon Corzine hasn't exactly been gaining on Chris Christie in the polls so much as Christie has been sliding, the incumbent is now within striking distance. Of all the poll releases since (the completely arbitrary date of) September 21, all six have shown a race within four points. [And depending on the sample sizes, all are within the margin of error.] And in the Fairleigh Dickinson poll out today, Jon Corzine has his first poll lead since January. One could say it has been a roller coaster ride. It has; just not for Corzine, who in the two polls released today reached the high water mark or his polling support this entire year. Despite that, Corzine has been stuck for the better part of the year in the 37-38% range in most polls while Chris Christie has been the one to see a dramatic rise into the 50% range and a subsequent fall since.
|2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Race Polling|
|Poll||Date||Margin of Error||Sample||Corzine||Christie||Daggett||Undecided|
|Rasmussen||Oct. 5, 2009||+/- 4%||750 likely voters||44||47||6||3|
|Fairleigh Dickinson [pdf]||Sept. 28-Oct. 5, 2009||+/- 4%||667 likely voters||44||43||4||5|
Before we look at the broader picture, we need to make a side note about the Fairleigh Dickinson poll and Chris Daggett*. The independent candidate received 4% in the poll, but in a split sample question that named either Daggett or another independent candidate, Gary Steele, directly (as opposed to having either candidate volunteered by the respondent in the full sample question), Daggett garnered 17% of the vote. Steele pulled in 12%. In other words, there appears to be some apprehension among likely voters concerning the two major party candidates. The reason that FHQ used the volunteered Daggett results over the split sample results was that the split sample size was so small for a New Jersey-wide poll. In the interest of transparency, though, the results for that question (Corzine 38, Christie 37, Daggett 17) yielded averages of Corzine 38.7%, Christie 45.8% and Daggett 7.9%. The gap, then, between the Corzine and Christie would be the same, albeit with both candidates a sliver under where they are in the graphic above.
So where does that leave this race? Things certainly are tightening, but FHQ's graduated weighted average continues to show a pretty good lead for Christie. It is still above seven points, but only barely so. The remarkable thing is that now it is Christie who is basically in the same position he was in back in June following his primary victory. Meanwhile, Corzine, who was stuck on the line between 37 and 38 all summer is the candidate who is gaining (both recently and relative to his comparable numbers in June). Christie may be ahead, then, but that margin continues to shrink, or will if subsequent polls continue to show these dead heats.
...and there is no indication yet that we won't continue to see that. That makes for an interesting last month to this particular race.
*Also note that Daggett has now been added to both the header graphic and the trendline graphic immediately above.
Here's what things would have looked like in New Jersey had the Rasmussen poll been released tomorrow.
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