MT. HOLLY, N.J. – A poll commissioned by the Congressional Leadership Fund (a GOP Super PAC) places Republican nominee David Richter behind incumbent Democrat Andy Kim by 3-points in NJ-03 (45% to 42%). That’s well within the survey’s 4.9% margin of error.
Notably, the Basswood Research poll found Richter is still a virtual unknown in the district; he’s viewed favorably by a mere 18% of those polled and unfavorably by just 10%.
That’s a blessing and a curse for the Republican challenger.
On the one hand, his name recognition is poor and Kim, who obviously has a head start on the name ID front, has over $3.2 million cash-on-hand with which to define Richter.
The upside: Richter is personally wealthy, and it’s expected he can invest a decent chunk of change (if he decides to make the investment) to try to define himself before Kim can. He loaned himself at least $600,000 during the recent primary phase.
An incumbent polling at or below the 45% mark is also traditionally seen as a sign of potential weakness heading into a reelection fight.
NJ-03 isn’t getting easier for Republicans to win. Republican Tom MacArthur lost his own reelection battle to Kim in 2018 by slighly less than 4,000 votes. Since Election 2018, Democrats have improved their modest voter registration edge in the distrct by almost exactly the same number of voters.