The lead has switched in the race for New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. Republican challenger Jon Runyan now leads Democratic incumbent John Adler by 48% to 43% among likely voters in this district. In a poll released on September 30, Adler held a nominal 42% to 39% edge.
Runyan has a sizable 50% to 37% advantage among independents. Last month, Adler had a 43% to 32% edge with this voting bloc. Runyan has also widened his lead in the Ocean County portion of the district to 54% to 37%, and nearly evened the playing field in Burlington County and Cherry Hill – trailing Adler there by just 3 points, 44% to 47%.
“There was some concern by Republicans that a so-called Tea Party candidate would hurt their nominee’s chances. If anything, it may be hurting Adler,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll asked half of the respondents the vote question with Pete DeStefano identified as the New Jersey Tea Party candidate and half were offered a generic “other candidate” as a third choice. Either way it was asked, all third party candidates combined receive no more than 5% of the vote.
Furthermore, 51% of likely voters have heard about the controversy surrounding the Tea Party candidate, who according to published reports has been aided by Democrats close to the Adler campaign. Among those aware of the controversy, about half (49%) think that Adler’s campaign was involved in the DeStefano candidacy. And among those who think Adler’s people were involved, 72% say that it has made them think worse of the Congressman.