Newark Mayor Cory Booker is maintaining a double-digit lead, buoyed by women voters, over Republican Steve Lonegan ahead of next Wednesday’s New Jersey special Senate election.
Despite a 12-point lead in the Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday, Booker trails among both independents and men in what’s shaping up to be a closer than expected election to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Booker tops Lonegan among likely voters 53%-41%, the same margin as the poll’s survey last month. But that’s down from leads earlier this summer that had the famous mayor up more than 20 points in the heavily Democratic Garden State.
“It’s still not the predicted blowout, but with a week to go, Newark Mayor Cory Booker hangs on to a nice, if not exactly comfortable, double-digit lead,” wrote Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Booker leads women by 31 points, and wasn’t damaged by the “stripper-Twitter affair,” the poll shows. The Democrat was dinged late last month after it was revealed he had exchanged direct messages with an Oregon stripper. Booker said it was just part of his active social media life, and he hadn’t scrutinized her profile. Seventy-six percent of respondents said it wasn’t a legitimate issue in the campaign. But it’s Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor and conservative activist, who leads among independent voters, 50%-44%. Men back Lonegan 51%-44%.
The underdog Lonegan has tried to hit Booker over his national profile and travel outside the state, saying in last Friday’s debate that the state needed “a leader, not a tweeter.” But the poll shows that message hasn’t resonated as much as the Republican needs it to: Booker still has a 57%-32% favorability rating, and Lonegan’s biggest problem is he’s still unknown (28% stay they still don’t know enough about him to form an opinion), and among those that do, he has a split 36%-33% favorability rating.
Voters also agree that Booker “would be good at getting things done for New Jersey” in the Senate by a 57%-31% margin, compared to a 39%-42% deficit on the same question for Lonegan.
“Money talks, at least on TV. Booker’s on a lot and Lonegan only a little and almost a third of New Jerseyans haven’t seen enough of Lonegan to make an up-or-down judgment,” said Carroll.
The two men will meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. for their final debate ahead of next week’s special election.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 899 likely New Jersey voters from Oct. 5-7 with a margin of error of +/- 3.3%.