As you know, polling on NJ’s Senate race has been newsy the last few weeks for a few reasons, including a late October “dead heat” Stockton Poll that Monmouth U pollster Patrick Murray (best in the biz IMO) questioned as undersampling young, Latino, and black voters, and not weighting the sample to deal with it. Stockton polled again, correcting, and came up with Menendez up by 12. On the heels of that, the Q Poll with a 15-point Menendez lead. (RCP average is Menendez 10.7). FiveThirtyEight gives the senator a 94.6% chance to win (but, hey, they didn’t see Trump coming). I’m not relaxed. Politico’s Matt Friedman notes Hugin telling people his internal polls show him up by 2 (but not providing those polls, so grain of salt rule applies). And there’s some noise not coming from the senator’s campaign of troubling county & congressional internal data for him. Then there’s the Lisa McCormick phenomenon. Menendez’ unfunded Democratic primary challenger, who with no serious campaign, got 38% of the primary vote, not for anything she did, but off Democrats’ disgust with their incumbent. Hard to imagine Green Party’s Senate candidate Madelyn Hoffman as beneficiary of a big enough vote to lift Hugin into the U. S. Senate, as Hoffman’s apparently not even filed with the FEC. Nobody knows she’s running.But this races is already a little strange.
So, Roll Call. As you know, in NJ both Ds and Rs are minorities compared to the largest group – the unaffiliateds, who in most elections break reliably to to the Ds and Rs. But some of them aren’t quite as reliable. And in a campaign like this, where Menendez should have sailed through a primary (but didn’t, owing to his own party’s discomfort with him) and then comes up on a self-funding businessman who’s darkened the senator’s ethics cloud (by outright lying about the senator and ‘underage girls’) there’s some worry. So this lowered my blood pressure a little. Noting Q Poll finds independents preferring Menendez 53% to Hugin 39%, this is Roll Call:
The poll shows independent voters have broken for Menendez in recent weeks, suggesting that even some New Jersey voters who are squeamish about casting a ballot for a candidate who was tried for conspiracy and bribery charges last year would prefer that a Democrat hold the seat.
Hillary Clinton carried New Jersey by 14 points in 2016. Still, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent about $1 million to secure the seat.
“While they may hold their nose to cast a ballot for Sen. Bob Menendez, voters signal they want to keep New Jersey’s Senate seat in the ‘D’ column in a blue state where President Donald Trump consistently remains unpopular,” said Mary Snow, a Quinnipiac polling analyst.
But I bet Beto O’Rourke is wishing the New Jersey Democrats had it together better so there was more money for insurgent races like his (against the odious Ted Cruz). Millions of national Dem money (not just the $1 million Roll Call cites) has been poured into the Menendez race; it shouldn’t have been necessary.
We have work to do on this party. Things to fix. Oh, yes.