New Jersey has broken the heart of every Republican running statewide since, oh, 1997, and in the process, offered the world some of American politics’ most ignoble moments: Sen. Bob Torricelli’s tearful withdrawal from his reelection bid (“When did we become such an unforgiving country?”), Jim McGreevey’s “I am a gay American” declaration, and Jon Corzine suffering terrible injuries because he didn’t wear his seatbelt as his motorcade sped to a press conference with the Rutgers women’s basketball team after the Don Imus brouhaha.
But as a Democratic incumbent, Governor Corzine ought to be essentially untouchable.
Quinnipiac polling says otherwise:
While few New Jersey voters know much about him, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, a Republican challenger, leads Democratic incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine 44–38 percent in this year’s Governor’s race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
This reverses a 42–36 percent Gov. Corzine lead in a November 19 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.
In this latest survey, Democrats support Corzine 72–10 percent while Christie leads 86–7 percent among Republicans and 49–24 percent among independent voters. Men back the Republican 51–32 percent while women go Democratic 42–38 percent. Black voters back Corzine 68–9 percent while white voters back Christie 52–32 percent.
In a Republican primary, Christie tops former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan 44–17 percent, with 5 percent for Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine and 2 percent for Assembly member Rick Merkt.
Voters disapprove 50–41 percent of the job Corzine is doing, continuing a six-month string of negative ratings. Independent voters disapprove 62–30 percent, matching the same 2-1 anti-Corzine margin from the election matchup.
“Republican Christopher Christie has broken out of the gate as a strong challenger to Gov. Jon Corzine. In less than four months, he has come from trailing the Governor by six points to leading him by six points–a 12-point shift,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
New Jersey voters say 54–33 percent that Corzine does not deserve to be reelected. Democrats want him back 61–22 percent, while Republicans say no 87–8 percent and independent voters turn thumbs down 64–23 percent.
Corzine is stronger against other challengers, but not by a ton; he leads Lonegan only 42 percent to 36 percent. Lonegan’s a virtual unknown, with a favorable response from 15 percent and a negative from 6 percent.