Can Obama Help Corzine in New Jersey?
President Obama is hitting the campaign trail tonight in New Jersey to stump for the state's incumbent Democratic Governor, Jon Corzine, who is locked in a tough re-election battle.
While some have characterized this race as referendum on Mr. Obama, recent polling may indicate that the New Jersey race for governor is about… well, New Jersey.
Mr. Obama, who won the Garden State by 15 points last November, remains popular here: 62 percent approve of the job he is doing as president according to the latest New York Times Poll.
As for Corzine, he receives only a 33 percent approval rating from New Jersey residents.
Independents are a key group in almost any election and most New Jersey independents (63%) approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president, but only 25% of this group likes the way Governor Corzine is handling his job. And while the incumbent Governor receives a 56% approval rating among Democrats, that is 49 points lower than the approval rating Democrats in New Jersey give Mr. Obama (85%).
?OVERALL JOB RATING AMONG N.J. Residents
Will Mr. Obama's popularity translate into votes? Well, at this point, two in three New Jersey voters say the President's endorsement of Mr. Corzine will make no difference in their vote.
According to the New York Times poll, 17 percent of New Jersey registered voters said it would make them more likely to vote for him, 16 percent said less likely and 65 percent said it would make no difference. A Monmouth University Poll has a similar finding with 73 percent of likely voters saying a campaign visit from Mr. Obama would not affect their vote for governor.
Recent polls show the race is a dead heat. Corzine is being challenged by Republican, Chris Christie, and independent candidate Chris Daggett.
Like many states across the country, most people in New Jersey (74 percent) say their state's economy is in bad shape and few think it is getting better. But when asked about the most important issue in their vote for governor, more than twice as many mention taxes (particularly property taxes) than the economy and jobs.
Democrats, Republicans and independents all cite taxes as their top issue.
Taxes have historically been a hot-button issue in New Jersey. The state has some of the highest property taxes in the country and Garden State voters are often vocal about it. In 1993, Democratic Governor Jim Florio lost his bid for re-election to Republican Christie Whitman due in large part to his decision to raise taxes. That was the last time a Republican won a statewide race in New Jersey.
In the New York Times Poll, only 17 percent of New Jerseyans approve of the way Corzine has handled property taxes and 56 percent of voters think property taxes will go up if he is re-elected. Fewer – 35 percent - think property taxes will increase if Mr. Christie becomes governor.
?IF CORZINE/CHRISTIE IS ELECTED, WILL YOUR PROPERTY TAXES…
|Stay the Same||36%||42%|
While Mr. Obama is popular in New Jersey, neither Corzine or Christie are viewed favorably by the New Jersey electorate. Only Daggett, the independent candidate, receives a net positive rating from New Jersey voters but 77 percent of voters are undecided or don't know enough about him to offer an opinion.
?VIEWS OF THE CANDIDATES
|Undecided/haven't heard enough||22%||41%||77%|
In addition, majorities of voters say they cannot personally relate to either Corzine (63 percent) or Christie (58 percent).
More on the New Jersey Campaign for Governor:
By the Numbers: Election Trends and Demographics
Video: The Campaign So Far
Jennifer De Pinto is manager of election and survey information for CBS News. Poll Positions is weekly Hotsheet feature on polling trends from the CBS News Survey and Polling Unit. Click here for more posts from the series.
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