| Democracy Corps (D) (10/6-7, likely voters, 9/22-23 in parens):
Jon Corzine (D-inc): 41 (39)
Chris Christie (R): 38 (40)
Chris Daggett (I): 14 (11)
Undecided: 7 (9)
That's the second poll this week which has shown Jon Corzine with the slimmest of leads. And, as happened on Tuesday, there's also another poll alongside this one showing Corzine just behind.
SurveyUSA (10/5-7, likely voters, no trendlines):
Jon Corzine (D-inc): 40
Chris Christie (R): 43
Chris Daggett (I): 14
Unfortunately, this is SUSA's first poll of NJ-Gov, so we have no trendlines here. But they're seeing the same thing as everyone else - a very close race:
Back when we last changed our rating on this race, we were at the point on the Pollster chart where the distance between the red and blue lines had been getting wider and wider, and was in fact at the widest it had ever been - "peak Christie," you might call it. At the time, we felt that this race exhibited a number of signs that set it apart from the usual "unloved Jersey Dem comes back in the end" storyline. Yet we did conclude with this remark:
This doesn't mean we think Corzine can't stage a comeback, or that Christie has this one in the bag. It simply means that he has the edge right now, something which seems hard to deny at this point. But if that changes, our rating will, too.
Well, things have changed. True, Corzine's popularity still sucks, and so does the economy. But it turns out Chris Christie wound up being a whole lot suckier. His non-stop parade of ethical lapses and his utter failure to articulate any kind of vision for the Garden State have proven that as a candidate - dare I say it? - he's a lightweight. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal has hammered him for his "empty" campaign. In retrospect, though, I suppose we shouldn't have expected much more than this from a handpicked Karl Rove-brand US Attorney.
The other factor, of course, is the emergence of independent Chris Daggett, who has almost certainly been siphoning off a good helping of anti-incumbent discontent. SUSA, interestingly, shows that similar proportions of folks who voted for Corzine in 2005 and his Republican opponent, Doug Forrester, are defecting to Daggett. But both my intuition and Daggett's overall trendlines make me think that if he weren't in the race, plenty of Democrats would still be defecting but fewer Republicans would be. In other words, Daggett offers an escape valve for some anti-Corzine votes that would otherwise go to Christie.
Add in Corzine's considerable money advantage and it's enough for us to conclude that this race is anybody's game. So we're moving NJ-Gov back to "Tossup." Election night should be a wild ride.