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Monday, December 19, 2005

NJ-Sen: Menendez Leads in Early Poll

Posted by DavidNYC

Last week, Quinnipiac released the first post-Menendez poll on the New Jersey senate race (registered voters, no trendlines):

Menendez: 44
Kean: 38
Undecided: 16
(MoE: ±3.7)

I'm glad to see Menendez with a lead, and I think this seat will ultimately stay in our hands. But I also think New Jersey is going to give us some serious agita, just like it did at times during the governor's race this year and the presidential race last year. (Remember, Gore won NJ by 16 points, but Kerry won by less than 7.)

Fortunately, this isn't a case where one guy has a lead due only to outsized name recognition. For Menendez, he gets 56% on "haven't heard enough to form an opinion," while Kean clocks in at 61%. (Their favorable-unfavorable ratings are pretty much the same.) Once these guys are both at 90+% name reco, Menendez will naturally have the advantage of running in a blue state. For Kean to win, he'll have to put some distance between his favorables and Menendez's unfavorables.

Unfortunately, some grumbly whiners in New Jersey's Democratic congressional delegation might just make Tom Kean's job a lot easier. A nasty Dem primary could be just what the GOP ordered, if it cranks up the eventual winner's unfavorables. (And it will.) I judge the value of primaries on a case-by-case basis - I'm not reflexively pro- or anti-primary (I think that would be silly). But in this case, I come down decidedly against having a primary.

I hope common sense prevails - that these eager passed-over beavers bide their time, that Lautenberg is convinced to re-retire, that we save our Battle Royale primary for 2008. It's a little hard to read the tea-leaves right now, though. Sixty-seven percent of Dems approve of Corzine's choice. But when asked if Menendez should run for a full term, only 38% say yes, while 25% say no and 37% are unsure. Right now, Menendez has a 31-3 approval rating among Dems. If he can keep his approval numbers so positive among members of his own party, then I would hazard that most of those 37% DK will move into the "yes" category as Menendez becomes more well-known.

Posted at 02:46 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, New Jersey | Technorati

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