Newark’s Democratic Mayor Cory Booker leads conservative Republican Steve Lonegan by double digits in the race to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. The poll shows that 53 percent of likely voters favor Booker compared to 41 percent for Lonegan. The telephone survey, conducted Sept. 19 to 22, questioned 948 voters and had a margin of error of about three percentage points.
Although the race appears to have narrowed since a poll of registered voters conducted last month, pollster Maurice Carroll warned in a statement against comparing the two polls because the new survey involved likely voters, not registered voters. Carroll said while the election may not be “a blow-out,” he described Booker’s lead as “comfortable,” making him the likely winner in Virginia, where voters have not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.
Lonegan was quick to tout his apparent momentum in Tuesday’s survey, issuing a statement saying, “This poll reveals what my supporters already knew. New Jersey is not the hopelessly liberal state everyone thinks it is.”
Other polls, however, show Booker leading Lonegan by an even wider margin. A Stockton College poll released Monday has Booker leading by 26 percent and a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released a couple of weeks ago showed Booker with a hefty 35-point lead. And in the Republicans-will-never-learn category, the Quinnipiac poll shows that Booker owes his substantial lead to women voters who favor him over Lonegan by a whopping 60 to 34 percent.
The Quinnipiac survey indicates that 91 percent of Democrats support Booker, while 86 percent of Republicans favor Lonegan. Independents are essentially split, with 47 percent picking Booker and 44 percent choosing Lonegan.
Pollster Carroll speculated on the reason for the apparent tightening of the race in this latest poll, saying it could be the result of a recent spike in Newark’s violent crime as well as negative attention in the media regarding Booker’s business dealings. including his involvement in the start-up of a social media website. Booker has since severed ties with that venture.
The candidates will face off in a special election on Oct. 16. The winner will complete the term of Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. The seat will come up for grabs again next year.