Better News, or Not, for Jon Corzine

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's reelection campaign has shown faint signs of life in a couple of recent polls. Research 2000 showed him facing an 8...
by | August 11, 2009
 

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's reelection campaign has shown faint signs of life in a couple of recent polls. Research 2000 showed him facing an 8-point deficit last week, while today Quinnipiac has him trailing Republican Chris Christie by nine points (and only six points when independent Christopher Daggett is included).

Those numbers are somewhat better than other recent polls. Still, if you look at the pollster.com average, there's not much reason for optimism for the Democrat.

Superficially, the governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey are in about the same place right now. In both states, the Republican candidate leads by high single digits or double digits, depending on the poll.

In reality, though, there's a big difference between the two. Virginians still don't really know a lot about either Republican Bob McDonnell or Democrat Creigh Deeds. Deeds, for example, is just starting to attack McDonnell on abortion. The candidates haven't engaged in much of a debate yet about transportation funding, the issue that seem most likely to dominate the fall campaign. McDonnell's lead is fairly wide right now, but it doesn't strike me as especially deep.

In contrast, Corzine suffers from the rare disadvantage of incumbency. He's been governor for almost four years and a majority of people in New Jersey don't like the result. Even in the two recent polls that have shown a closer race, Corzine's favorable ratings are in the thirties. There's depth to the disdain, which makes his deficit difficult to overcome.

Corzine does have a couple of advantages. One is that Christie remains ill-defined, with 30 percent of likely voters having not heard enough about him to form an opinion, according to Quinnipiac. The other is that Corzine should have a lot more campaign cash to spend than Christie.

Still, I doubt a negative campaign against Christie will be sufficient to win. How likely is it that the people of New Jersey will say that they don't like the job Corzine has done, but they want him to do it for another four years? Corzine has less than three months to persuade New Jersey that, in actuality, he's been a decent governor.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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