(Cross-posted from MyDD.com)
Something many of us have long been assuming, that a decent number voters are confusing GOP Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr with his ex-Governor father, has been confirmed by the latest Eagleton Poll from Rutgers University. Menendez leads the poll overall, with 40% to 35% for Kean Jr among registered voters. Naturally, the numbers only get better for Menendez when you filter out the voters who have their Tom Keans mixed up.
The percentages of voters who think Tom Kean Jr served as Governor of New Jersey or was a member of the 9/11 Commission are 12% and 11%, respectively. When their preferences are removed from the results, Menendez’s lead goes up to 42% to 33%. And it’s not just the Kean confusion that skews the numbers. As the Eagleton press release notes, “[t]hose who were more knowledgeable about politics showed a very different pattern of responses than those who were less knowledgeable.”
Menendez’s lead of 36% to 34% among independent voters grows to 42% to 38% among the more knowledgeable independent voters. Voters give Kean a three-point edge, 31% to 28%, over Menendez in terms of being the candidate who would make the best decisions to protect New Jersey against a terrorist attack. However, the more knowledgeable voters give the advantage to Menendez by a margin of 39% to 33%.
“This poll suggests Kean gains from the voters’ lack of information and could be in trouble as voters become more familiar with the candidates,” Edelman said.
The terrorist attack numbers are quite interesting to me. Just under 700 New Jerseyans died on 9/11, so there’s a palpable sense here among some that another attack is just a real possibility, especially at Port Newark or at one of the New York/New Jersey crossings. Sen. Menendez has made port security a real priority, and people have been taking notice. Kean Jr’s done nothing but articulate rubber-stamp support for Bush’s stay the course non-plan of action.
But perhaps the most interesting set of numbers is the preference of male voters in the state. While Democrats traditionally do better among female voters and Republicans among men, the two are virtually tied among women, 37% to 36%. But Menendez has a significant lead, 43% to 34% among male voters. I’m not quite sure why this is. Off the top of my head, the only thing I can come up with is that Sen. Menendez is a guy from humble beginnings, while Kean Jr is a pampered prep school kid. But that’s just my gut impression and I don’t really know.
This is a really great poll chock full of interesting numbers on the Senate race. Finally, someone asked some of the questions I’ve been dying to learn the answers to. To my pleasant surprise, my assumptions have by and large been proven true. Though it’s early, I sense in this poll some indication that the numbers are going to keep trending in Menendez’s direction. Good news for New Jersey.