After two straight miserable cycles for Republicans, those who support them get a little nervous when they see their candidates leading early. McCain and Palin actually had the lead for a while after the GOP convention. Republicans have lost leads, as in New York’s 20th congressional district. They’ve seen their guy appear to fall just short, as in Minnesota (depending on whether or not they count the dead vote).
There’s been a bright outlook for Republican candidates in both of this year’s gubernatorial races . . . so a certain fear that the leads will be blown and the Democrats will come roaring back is natural. In fact, once the GOP primary in New Jersey settled the nominee, and Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine unleashed every attack he could think of against Chris Christie, I braced myself for a much tighter race.
And then, this morning, Quinnipiac University polling tells me . . .
Christie, the former U.S. Attorney, leads Corzine 50%-40% among likely voters.
Corzine has an upside-down approval rating of 36%-56%. He was at 38%-53% last month. 55% of voters say he does not deserve to be re-elected, while 37% say he does.
Christie leads 56%-32% among independents voters, and is wining 19% of the Democratic vote, according to the survey. He beats Corzine among men (55%-38%) and narrowly among women (46%-43%). After a tough primary, Christie is getting 88% of the Republican vote.
“The numbers on which Corzine must focus are the 19 percent of Democrats who are voting for Chris Christie, Christie’s 24-point edge among independents, and the 44 percent who say the Governor is not honest and trustworthy – a high number for a New Jersey politician who has never faced any serious corruption charge,” Richards explained. “Still the biggest thing Corzine needs is a little improvement of the economy – a factor over which he has almost no control.”
Quinnipiac emphasizes that the race isn’t over, and Corzine shouldn’t be counted out. And I will agree, somewhat. There’s always the possibility for something dramatic and unexpected — a revelation of a truly shocking scandal around Christie, a “Torricelli Maneuver” that replaces Corzine with another candidate for the Democrats, or Corzine successfully landing a passenger airliner in the Hudson River — but these are abysmal numbers for the Democratic incumbent that will not go away with attack ads.
The economy of New Jersey is not going to turn into a roaring job-creation machine between now and November. And Obama appearing and embracing Corzine is only going to do so much good — and that presumes that Obama will want to risk his reputation by going all-out for a throughly unpopular incumbent.
You can’t quite declare a candidate “toast” with five months remaining until Election Day. But Corzine is close to it.