Booker maintains big lead in NJ Senate race

Updated
Newark Mayor Cory Booker announces his plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat during a news conference in Newark, June 8, 2013.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker announces his plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat during a news conference in Newark, June 8, 2013.
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Democrat Cory Booker has a crushing lead in next month’s New Jersey Senate special primary, topping 50% in a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

The Newark mayor takes 52% in next month’s four-way race, while his nearest competitor, Rep. Frank Pallone, registers just 10%. Rep. Rush Holt has 8% while Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is at 3%. Just over a quarter of voters are undecided.

The new poll comes one day after Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s family said they were backing Pallone to fill the late Democratic senator’s seat, alluding to Booker as a “showhorse” and criticizing his close relationship with Republican Gov. Chris Christie. There was no love lost between the longtime Democratic lawmaker, who passed away last month, and Booker, who announced he would run against Lautenberg even before the Democrat decided to retire.

The July poll’s results are nearly identical to a June survey of the abbreviated contest, which found Booker started off the two-month primary sprint as the heavy favorite.

Booker remains the best known among Democratic candidates and also holds the widest lead in general election matchups. Fifty-six percent of voters said they have a favorable opinion of the Newark mayor, while a majority of voters said they didn’t know enough about the remaining Democratic or Republican candidates to have an opinion.

For the Republican nomination, conservative activist and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who ran unsuccessfully against Christie in the 2009 gubernatorial primary, easily tops little-known physician Alieta Eck, 62%-5%.

In the October special general election, which Christie controversially decided to hold just three weeks ahead of the November regular election, Booker leads Lonegan by 23 points, 53%-30%. The contest is much closer against other Democratic candidates, though. Pallone leads Lonegan 38%-34%, Holt edges the likely GOP nominee 37%-36%, and Lonegan narrowly tops Oliver, 37%-35%.

The Quinnipiac survey was conducted July 2-7 and tested 1,068 New Jersey voters with a margin of error of +/-3%. Subsets of 400 Democrats has a margin of error of +/-4.9% and 330 Republicans has a +/-5.4% margin of error.

Booker maintains big lead in NJ Senate race

Updated