State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-NJ) hasn’t had a great couple of months, Save Jerseyans.
As of yet, there’s no tangible sign that he’s super-competitive with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) other than the fact that Menendez still can’t touch the 50% mark in public polling, a testament solely to the incumbent’s many, many failings as an elected “leader.”
Does this depress you? Sorry, folks: it’s not my job to sugarcoat obviously bitter truths for you. Our blogger-reader relationship is built on trust! If you want to feel better, get in touch with the campaign and make some phone calls.
Here’s a little motivational fuel for your fire: today’s Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll offers some real hope for the Republican; not “progress” per se. Just potential…
Among registered voters in New Jersey, President Barack Obama leads his Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 51% to 38%. That margin shrinks slightly to 50% to 42% among likely voters. In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez leads GOP nominee Joe Kyrillos by 42% to 32% among registered voters and 44% to 35% among likely voters. A significant number of Garden State voters – 21% registered and 17% likely – are still on the fence in the Senate race.
So only about 1/3 of New Jersey voters are willing to support Kyrillos at this point in time… a clear byproduct of his extremely low name recognition outside of Monmouth County. 56% don’t even have an opinion of Kyrillos (as opposed to 40% in reference to Menendez). Otherwise we’d expect Kyrillos to lead Romney’s support levels due to Menendez’s lack of popularity, at least relative to the President.
The good news for Joe Kyrillos?
- Menendez is still well below 50% among registered and likely voters;
- Approximately 1/5 of voters still haven’t decided whom to support; and
- Mitt Romney is “only” 8pts behind Obama among likely voters – a “close” race by modern New Jersey presidential election standards (Obama bested McCain in the Garden State by 15.5-points in 2008).
And a fourth reason for optimism? The growing voter enthusiasm gap:
Just under half (47%) of registered New Jersey voters say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year, compared to 32% who are less enthusiastic and 20% who say they have about the same level of enthusiasm as prior elections. At this point in the 2008 campaign, a similar 50% of voters were more enthused and 29% were less enthused than usual. However, those results showed a partisan gap, with 66% of Democrats being more enthused compared to just 39% of Republicans. This year it is even, with 51% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans saying they are more enthused than usual. Enthusiasm among independent voters is practically the same now (41%) as it was in 2008 (39%).
“Voter enthusiasm is really a byproduct of frustration. Democrats in 2008 were galvanized by the prospect of moving on from the Bush years. In 2012, Republicans are motivated by the possibility of defeating the incumbent president, even though it is unlikely that New Jersey will award its electoral votes to his challenger,” said Murray.
Murray’s enthusiasm findings comport with the trends we’re seeing in national survey results.
Translation: all of this data adds up to a New Jersey electorate that is still (A) still true “blue” for federal races but (B)(1) with more enthusiastic Republicans than recent cycles and (B)(2) full of persuadable, undecided voters who aren’t high on the incumbent Democrat.
The challenge remains… how will Kyrillos introduce himself to New Jersey’s voters (and win over a strong majority of the undecided 20%) between now and November?
I’m not saying it’s going to happen, only that it’s possible. Particularly if Romney can fight Obama to single digits in the Garden State without having run a full-out paid media campaign in the tri-state region. That last fact might prove fatal to Kyrillos’s chances. Ironically, let’s keep our fingers crossed that Pennsylvania stays competive so the NJGOP ticket gets some GOTV assistance in the Philly media market.
A Rubio vice presidential candidacy also wouldn’t hurt.
You can read Murray’s poll results, cross-tabs, etc. right here (pdf).