Thursday, September 16, 2004

Does Bush actually lead Kerry in New Jersey? 

According to this SurveyUSA poll conducted for big New York and Philadelphia TV stations (New Jersey not really having TV stations), Bush is up by four points among likely voters. I was not able to find any news story on this poll, so it may not really see the light of day. If accurate, or even close to accurate, the Kerry campaign will have to divert resources here at the expense of other states that also need attention. Adding some credence to the SurveyUSA poll, the Bush campaign suddenly seems to believe that New Jersey is worth some effort -- Laura Bush will be in Hamilton today for the first Bush campaign appearance here other than for the raising of money.

The poll itself involved more than 700 likely voters, and the margin of error is 3.7%, so the results are statistically significant. The pollsters noted two factors that may have bolstered Bush's results. First, the survey occurred over Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week, immediately following the anniversary of September 11. Second, the pollsters noted that it is "unclear what effect [McGreevey's resignation], if any, [is having] on vote for president in NJ." Well, there's no way it helps Kerry, even if it doesn't hurt him much.

Bush is ahead by 13 points among men, and behind by four points among women, so New Jersey continues to expose a huge gender gap. Bush is ahead in northern, central and southern New Jersey, although his lead in the north is very slim and probably not significant. Bush is also ahead by five points among "certain" voters, but behind by nine among "probable" voters. That also can't be good for Kerry, because it puts pressure on the turn-out effort in New Jersey when the whole party will be maneuvering over the transition in the statehouse. Bush hatred may overcome all of that for a few days, but the distraction can't help.

This is interesting, but less surprising to locals than to national pundits. The McGreevey administration -- a disaster in its denouement -- has been a mess since its inception, and the circle of corruption around him is well-understood in this state. Finally, those of us in the arc from Princeton to Camden, including Trenton, tend to watch Philadelphia television (especially if we have DirecTV, which delivers Philadelphia stations in its basic package), which means we've been seeing the Swifty ads that leak over the Delaware from Pennsylvania. Finally, the polls began to move for Bush before September 11, which strongly suggests that the intense local coverage of the RNC in New York actually helped him. If so, then the oft-derided decision to put the convention in Manhattan was smarter than it seemed at first blush if it helped put New Jersey into play.

There's a long way to go, and I will still be surprised if Bush wins New Jersey. But the problems here for the Democrats have the potential to spread Kerry's efforts, which will improve Bush's chances elsewhere.

CWCID: Glenn.


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